Love2Reach is the Columbus Running Company’s charity training program. Founded in 2013 by a group of runners and walkers who wanted to do something more for their community, L2R is now in its fifth season of giving back to the Columbus area through fundraising and racing.
Two of L2R’s new assistant coaches are Tracey King and Kristi Aiken. Tracey is in her first coaching role after running with the team as an athlete for the previous two seasons.
“I joined CRC’s running group in the winter of 2014/2015 with the plan of running my first full the next fall,” Tracey says. “On one of my first runs with CRC, I met Meg and Lisa [two of L2R’s founding members] and they told me about L2R. I loved the idea of charity running, and those two were just so much fun. I knew that this was what I was meant to do.”
Kristi, who is in her first season with Love2Reach, learned about the group through her staff job at CRC.
“As an employee at CRC, I have had the privilege of getting to know many of the coaches and participants through interaction in the stores and at our many CRC sponsored events,” Kristi explains. “I've enjoyed cheering many of them on as they've trained and participated in their respective races.”
L2R is all about sharing the miles together, not only for training but for racing as well. As an athlete competing for L2R, Tracey was grateful for the encouragement that the team provides, telling us that, “L2R comes out in force to support one another. We cheer louder than any other team. They can lift me when I am ready to crawl.”
That kind of unwavering support is also what draws Kristi to the charity training group environment.
“I will never forget the people who helped get me to the finish line of my first marathon. It wasn't anyone on the course per se, but the coaches, family of participants and individual stories and well-wishes of those who contributed to my fundraising along the journey. When I began to hurt, I knew there was a bigger reason for what I was doing...it made such an impact,” Kristi says.
This year’s partner charity is Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that pairs trained assistance dogs with veterans and/or people with disabilities. In the past, Love2Reach has fundraised for a variety of charity partners, including the Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
One of Tracey’s favorite aspects of L2R is their role in changing lives through charity work, and Kristi seconds that, explaining, “[Participating in a charity training group] is a win-win for the individual and the charity. Not only does the participant get to complete their specific endurance event, but they get to help others in need while doing it.” She also notes that while the idea of fundraising can sometimes be intimidating, “L2R assists their participants in making this piece as easy as possible.”
Regardless of whether or not you’ve completed a formal training plan, Love2Reach has plans for different levels of ability. Ultimately, L2R is here to provide a sense of community and the opportunity to make a difference, all while helping its athletes reach their goals.
“No matter where you are starting from—fast, slow, or never ran double-digit mileage—we have someone that will support you and get you to your goals,” Tracey says. “And together we will cross that finish line, all while making a true difference in the world!”
Love2Reach will hold an information meeting on Tuesday, April 4th at the Columbus Running Company's Dublin location (6465 Perimeter Drive, Dublin). Join us for a chance to have your questions answered as you meet the coaches and learn about Canine Companions for Independence.