CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As several hundred individual runners prepare for Saturday's Charleston Distance Run, single goals take center stage for each racer, though team and camaraderie play pivotal roles, too.
Local runners Susan Hall and Megan Hevener, both of the Copperhead Ridge Runners, along with Hevener's sister Annie Scott, of Magnolia, Del., will run individually, but race and hopefully celebrate in a team effort.
"We thought it would be fun to put together a Copperhead Ridge Runner chicks team to compete against the guys," Hall said. "I look forward to running with them and I think we'll probably put together a pretty good race and if we're lucky, we'll beat the guys."
Both Hall, 51, and Hevener, 31, train with the Ridge Runners, where the pair forged a bond that resulted in creation of the team. The group, who meets at the Nitro Marketplace, features plenty of talented runners and fosters many great relationships, Hall said.
"We've all become really good friends and there's about 20 of us," she said. "There's always somebody who shows up to run every day on the trails. People are just funny. You go out there and you're running, laughing and joking around. It's just a lot of fun.
"There's a big gang of us that do it and we make the Distance Run kind of a thing that we train for and then we race it and we go out to eat afterward and re-hash our races, whether good or bad."
Hevener, a former runner at Charleston Catholic High School, said training with a group provides extra lift.
"It makes it a lot more fun when you have friends to run with," she said. "It helps to motivate you when you have those tough days. It's nice to know you have somebody next to you who's feeling the same exact way as you. It makes it more fun and it helps to keep you going."
From different stages and walks of life, the Ridge Runners run together, Hevener said.
"Everybody comes from a different professional background, a different home background," she said. "Everybody has something different to bring to the table as far as even athletic ability."
As one of the group's youngest members when she joined in 2007, Hevener said she drew inspiration from watching veteran racers train and compete.
"It was inspiring just to see people who are older than me setting these really high goals and attaining them and just realizing I could do it too," she said.