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But first, please read this to determine if the Distance Demons club is a good fit. Contact coach Harris (see below) if you have questions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
"Is this only for young hotshots, not 'every kid' runners?"
We are NOT exclusive, not only about competition, winning, and hotshots. We respect all kid runners. We have had members at various levels over the years, each of them supported and valued equally. Getting better and running personal records (PR's) is the greatest reward. All that said, our members tend to have some "fire in the belly," a competitive spark and a desire to work hard. Parents like the club because such kids need the outlet and niche. It is a great place to be for a certain type of young runner, a motivated kid who defines “fun” as running distances, working hard to get better, and competing occasionally. Such kids feed off of one another in a positive way, and friendships happen.
"What skill and talent levels have been involved?"
Distance Demons often win road race youth division awards. We have even had "overall" firsts--kid runners beating all adults to the finish line! Over the years, Demons have collected dozens of "top ten" finishes at state, regional, and national Junior Olympics track and cross country meets, including lots of state firsts! There have been some national Junior Olympics All-Americans along the way, among the best few in the nation. Yes we attract some hotshots but, as noted above, we are NOT exclusive.
"So in other words...?"
Your young runner does not need to be a hotshot, but the club is not a good fit for a kid mainly looking for a social group, wanting to jog slowly for short distances and lacking a competitive spirit.
"Where and how often do you practice?" THIS SOMETIMES GETS MISSED, PLEASE READ!
We use parks, walking trails, the UNCA track, and more, depending on the season. We try to meet in places and at times best for the majority, from Asheville to Weaverville. Richmond Hill Park is great for cross country training.
Kids and families these days are busy. Parents made it clear long ago that they prefer infrequent practices. Sunday afternoons tend to work best for most, especially during months when daylight fades early. We meet for a workout approx. once a month, and we enjoy a pizza party or two during the year.
The exception to the infrequent rule is cross country season, late August through November. That usually brings us together for 2-3 practices per week, often trail running, in preparation for the state Junior Olympics cross country meet. That has traditionally been the season and the meet that kids enjoy most. Other than Sunday afternoons, we meet on a weekday or two that work best for the majority. Weekday practice times are usually around 5:30 until daylight savings and darkness force us earlier.
"Are practices or race/meet participation mandatory?"
Absolutely not, nothing about the club is mandatory. Families are busy, kids are often doing two sports at a time plus music lessons, etc. Parents made it clear long ago that a loose-knit, infrequent approach is what they prefer in order to involve their kids and remain sane. If a runner misses any given workout, no worries. Coach Harris sometimes provides workouts in email in such cases.
"Can you tell me more about the coach?"
My background is international education and international programs. I have worked with kids of all ages through outreach programming, at schools and through other means. My wife and I raised two boys who were Distance Demons and also ran for school teams. The club is a community service effort for me, and I get selfish joy in working with young runners. Kids seem to enjoy my coaching and they learn lots. I like to make it fun, do some running games, and share really bad puns. Team-building includes making fun of the coach!
"What does membership cost?"
The annual membership fee is $20, and $5 less for every additional family member. Fees help cover the expenses of a club run on a shoestring budget by a volunteer coach.
"How does this work at road races?"
We target certain road races that are especially fun and offer fair and multiple youth divisions. We absolutely avoid races with unfair youth divisions like "18 and under." The decision to run in any road race is up to parents and runners, especially races we do not target. We meet at the starting line about 30 minutes in advance for some running warm-up and dynamic stretches. We often enjoy time together after finishing, especially when Demons win awards.
"What happens during school running seasons (track and cross country)?"
The club is perfect for elementary and middle school runners, and private and homeschool kids, in situations where official running teams do not exist. Runners involved with middle school teams can enjoy that experience and become active with us before or after school track and cross country seasons. We can ramp runners up for the state Junior Olympics cross country meet in November.
"What about kids on school teams, what if your coaching is different before or after school seasons?"
I hope middle school coaches share my belief that learning can benefit from a "hybrid" approach involving the experience and perspectives of other coaches. Some of my best runners have said that their younger years of running helped them get motivated for high school running and be even more successful at that level. Award-winning (and confident) high school coaches have said that they appreciate the extra training and info that runners get through Distance Demons participation.
"Why such a wide range of grades/ages for membership in the club?"
Most of the events we run have various youth age divisions. Workouts can be customized for different age and skill levels.
If you still have questions after reviewing the website and reading this, feel free to call me, (828) seven zero seven-7623. I sometimes avoid calls from unknown numbers, so you may need to send a text, or use the contact form here on the website.