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New Energy Runners off to fast start

The closing kick, trying to find enough energy and willpower for a final sprint to the finish line, is a huge challenge for any long-distance runner.

Thanks to Matt Trangenstein and his new running team, the New Energy Runners, Kade Gagnon already knows the same challenge, and he knows he can handle it.

“The toughest part is running to the finish line really fast,” Gagnon, a student at Hillpoint Elementary School, said just after a practice with Trangenstein Tuesday afternoon at the Kidszone Park next to the Howard Mast Tennis Courts.

Trangenstein, an avid runner and member of the Tidewater Striders running club, started the New Energy Runners in early March. It wasn’t the case Tuesday as a downpour had just rolled through downtown Suffolk, but normally, he now has six kids out practicing regularly.

Gagnon and Isabelle Donovan were the first two to start with Trangenstein. Gagnon placed fourth in his age group in the one-mile run, in a time of 9:16, at his first race this past weekend.

“Certainly the best part is to see them at races, especially when they see the timer at the finish and see they’ve set a new personal best,” Trangenstein said.

Gagnon’s time was about three minutes faster than what he’d been running during practice, Trangenstein said.

Donovan, 11, has a personal best of 6:16 in the mile. “She’s pretty remarkable. She’s consistently in the top three or four in her age group,” Trangenstein said.

Donovan, a sixth-grader at King’s Fork Middle School, finished third in the open division in a mile race at in Virginia Beach on April 18.

The idea for a youth running club in Suffolk started at a Tidewater Striders meeting and Trangenstein “not knowing what I was getting into, I just sort of raised my hand.”

The first few weeks of the club have gone very well and bringing in new recruits can be attributed to Trangenstein’s coaching ability and originality.

Sure, there’s running as part of a running club’s practices, but “we also play games a lot of the time,” said Trangenstein.

Tag, but tag where everyone in the game has to be in motion at all times, is a favorite. Ultimate Frisbee and touch football are also games that get kids to run without them realizing they’re exercising.

“We’re had kids on the playground here see us, see we’re doing fun stuff and come over and join in,” Trangenstein said.

There are more good reasons to try the sport of running. For one, the cost is low. Unlike a lot of team sports with bats, gloves, sticks and pads to buy and replace, running shoes are the only required gear needed to join New Energy. There’s a $10 fee to join Tidewater Striders and small entry fees for some races, but that’s it for expenses.

The New Energy Runners are setting their sights on Suffolk on the Move, an event with a one-mile race and a 5K race, in Suffolk on June 26.

If his runners want to be competitive, that’s great. If they simply come out to get active and get off the couch, that’s great, too. For now at least, the main goal is to have the group grow and bring more kids out.

“If you give it a shot, you’ll end up having fun,” Trangenstein said.

Once runners get into a race, though, Trangenstein’s sure they’ll want to be more competitive. Winning medals and trophies makes for easy motivation.

Anyone interested in joining the New Energy Runners can just join them one afternoon at the park, or they can e-mail Trangenstein at trangemo@gmail.com.