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Local running club still trying to gain footing

Don Sobanko1.jpg
New Market resident Don Sobanko recently formed Pegasus Running Club with the aim of providing individualized instruction to both youth and adult runners. Jeff Nations/Daily

Don Sobanko2.jpg
New Market resident Don Sobanko is recruiting prospective runners for Pegasus Running Club, a group he recently formed to tailor training for individual runners and provide a team atmosphere for area running events. Jeff Nations/Daily

By Brad Fauber

Don Sobanko is a self-described impatient man, so it's no surprise that he is a little bit anxious after his initial attempt at starting a running club in New Market has stumbled out of the gate.

Sobanko, a New Market resident, recently decided that he would form the Pegasus Running Club with the help of his wife, Valerie, and had targeted April 1 as the date to get the club off and running.

Unfortunately for Sobanko, the club has received little interest after two weeks, and the club has yet to hold its first official practice. The delay has been an unsettling one for Sobanko.

"After about a week or so of trying to see if anybody would come out other than people saying, 'During the summer,' I'm sitting here saying, 'There isn't anybody right now,'" Sobanko said. "I just have to be more patient in getting started. Working with the kids and working with people is not a problem for me. It's just, I want to start it now and I'm anxious to get it going."

The Pegasus Running Club hasn't fallen victim to a complete lack of interest -- Sobanko said there are several children in the middle school and high school age group that have expressed a desire to join the club once the school year ends.

Sobanko said that the challenge right now is finding kids who want to run that aren't already participating in spring sports for local schools, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Sobanko said he strongly encourages children to actively participate in scholastic sports, and he hopes that his running club will eventually provide student-athletes with an opportunity to put in some extra work during the offseason.

"We're not trying to replace any program," Sobanko said. "We're not trying to take the place of the schools or any of the programs here, we're trying to add to it and to improve it."

Pegasus Running Club is open to children in fifth grade and above, as well as adults. The club will compete in various races held in the local area, but Sobanko said the main focus is to cater to each participant's individual goals.

"It's very flexible and it really depends on what the person's goals are," Sobanko said. "It depends on what their goals are and then we'll work from there."

Sobanko has had plenty of experience with running clubs in the past, as he has played a prominent role in the formation of several such programs over the course his 40-year coaching career, beginning with the creation of the Central Florida Cinderbelles in Orlando, Fla., in the early 1970s.

Sobanko then created the Sun State Striders, an independent running club, several years later, and in 1983 the club was named the top age-group running club in the country by the National Running Data Center, which came as a shock to Sobanko.

"We've never tried to make it, 'Let's go out and compete and be the best team in the United States,'" Sobanko said. "It was always about personal goals -- what are you trying to accomplish and what can we do to make it better for you and help you with it?"

Sobanko wants to apply that same philosophy to the Pegasus Running Club, should the program begin to catch on. Sobanko is confident that the club will start to gain some steam soon, although it may take a few more months before that happens.

"We're just anxious to get it going," Sobanko said. "We're hopeful that we'll get it started and have a nice little nucleus when the summer hits."

Those wishing to join the Pegasus Running Club can contact Don Sobanko by phone at 271-2637, or by email at sobanko@shentel.net.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com


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