Colleen FalardeauText of Caryn Pepin's remarks at the GDTC Annual Dinner:

First and foremost I want to thank you all again for voting me Member of the Year last year, in my short time with the club it was an unexpected and truly humbling moment.

Now on to 2017... This year's Member of the Year is going to a well deserving long time member of the Greater Derry Track Club. In their 10 years of service to the club their hard work and dedication have definitely not gone unnoticed. You can always find them volunteering at club sanctioned events and this year even took one under their wing...

This member is a kind and caring individual who, when they aren't running, works as a Registered Nurse taking care of our nation's veterans battling cancer, but also enjoys going hunting with her spouse. Every winter this member opens up her home to us to host a fabulous breakfast, and a Fun Run too! 

This member became a Granite Runner for the second consecutive year this season, and with the help of another club member, took over the reins and became co-director for our 42nd year of Kids Summer Fun Runs, and what a successful year it was!!

To me a leader is not necessarily the person who finishes first, but the person whose heart and determination lift up everyone around them. Thank you for being such a great leader, and thank you for telling me that it is definitely OK to cry after finishing a marathon!!

The Greater Derry Track Club Member of the Year award for 2017 goes to Colleen Falardeau!

Caryn and Colleen
Caryn Pepin introduces the 2017 Member of the Year


NH Grand Prix WinnersWith the conclusion of the Granite 10 Miler, the Greater Derry Track Club has officially captured the 2017 Grand Prix Team Title! The Gate City Striders were the top club the 10 Miler, but GDTC was able to hold onto their lead and win the series. It was a great battle between the top two teams all year long!

Donation to Liberty House
Race Director Rebecca Noe presents a check for $7,000 to Ashley Kitchell, Liberty House Operations Manager.

The Greater Derry Track Club is ecstatic to announce that the Run for Freedom 5k/10k, was able to raise $7,000 dollars for Liberty House in Manchester, NH! Liberty House is a safe, supportive, substance-free housing community for American veterans transitioning out of homelessness. 

Couch to 5K participantsA couch can be a warm, comfy, part of someone's everyday life, offering a secure zone where people can relax with family and friends after a long day at work. But many people will challenge themselves to climb off that comfortable couch this spring to participate in an annual ritual that draws out those who want to try something new, or find their way back to a former favorite activity.

For those signing up for the Greater Derry Track Couch to 5K Program this year, it's an opportunity to take to the area's roadways and neighborhoods to practice running skills while embarking on a journey to good health. It's a way to be introduced to running for the first time. It can be a return to an old friend that once was a hobby or regular physical fitness routine. 

The Couch to 5K program begins Tuesday, May 9, and runs for eight weeks, teaching participants all about running, how to get started, proper stretching, what to wear and how to pace themselves, all in preparation for the annual Run for Freedom in Derry on July 4th. Runners meet twice a week at the Windham Rail Trail, Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and again Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. The program is the only known free Couch to 5K training program in the state. 

Springing into shape
Program organizer and track club member John McGarry of Windham said the program began as a way to reach out more to the community while promoting good health and running skills. 

An early relationship about five years ago with Parkland Medical Center in Derry helped kick-start the program, joining dozens of people in the inaugural year to learn all about warming up, stretching and the basics of running.

The track club eventually made the program its own, continuing to welcome runners of all levels every spring to take on the eight-week challenge, leading up to a grand finale outing in the Run for Freedom race, another club effort that raises money every year to support homeless veterans through Manchester's Liberty House.

McGarry said the track club has many running opportunities for athletes of all levels, including races to prepare runners for marathons and a very popular summer running program for children. But a major piece of community outreach was missing, McGarry said. That led to the inception of Couch to 5K.

"It is designed for beginning runners or those who ran in the past," McGarry said. "They got to the point where they wanted to make the commitment. The hardest part can be making the commitment." 

McGarry knows for a fact how running can be a lifelong journey. While growing up in Connecticut, he was the typical teen who competed in track in high school. "I was a pretty decent runner," he said. "I ran all the time."

There were college opportunities to continue on the track, but McGarry said he chose a path that led him to a college without a running program. "I always had that yearning to get back," he said. He eventually landed in Windham to raise a family and found his way to the Greater Derry Track Club. 

Finding the right path 
McGarry said the program starts with a gradual introduction to the basics, followed in the weeks ahead by more training on other aspects of running. Participants can start with simple jogging in place, then walking and eventually working up to a longer distance and time on the trail course. The ultimate goal is running in the Run for Freedom. It's also an education.

Stretching exercises

McGarry said "It's not just about running, it's about all the other things needed for success." the proper clothing to wear, how to stretch and just the friendship involved by being part of a group with similar interests. 

Running is a top exercise choice for many people, McGarry added, due to its simplicity.  "You can wake up, put some shoes on and go outside," he said. "It's also very much an independent activity."

The Couch to 5K program boasts hundreds of graduates, many staying as members of the Greater Derry Track Club and forging friendships that continue. Members of the club and program graduates gather regularly on Saturday mornings to chat, enjoy a neighborhood run, then share a meal after. Runners take turns hosting the events.

On one chilly morning recently, McGarry hosted several dozen runners at his Windham home. First on the menu, a gathering of people in McGarry's living room to connect and plan the neighborhood run. The run was followed by bagels, juice and other breakfast items. 

Why they run
Paul Schofield, who joined the Couch to 5K program last year, said he never quite imagined himself a runner. "Running was the last thing I ever thought of doing," he said. "But it's good for you and these people treat you like gold." That's because there is a wonderful sort of bonding, a group hug so to speak, among the runners who make up this group and the track club in general. 

Running puts participants out on the streets in all kinds of weather, with many on the sidelines and behind the scenes always cheering them on toward a goal, whether it's completing a 5K or a 1-miler, or just a gentle traipse around a neighborhood with friends on a brisk Saturday morning. 

Charles Morganson of Derry had a different approach. He joined the Couch to 5K program to acclimate himself once again to the joys of being a runner. "I wanted to get serious about running," he said. "And it is teamwork. You recognize people, you know people. There are races for all ages and we help each other."

For many, it's a chance to rediscover running after many years of not being involved. For others, it's a new thing. Still others hope for an improvement in their health. 

Sharad Vidyarthy of Windham was a runner two decades ago. "For me, it was getting back into it for health," he said. For whatever reason one joins the program, it is a true testament to the commitment of those who plan and implement it that participants succeed at their own level, run at their own pace, and finish the race on their own terms. That includes paying respect and tribute to McGarry for his leadership and hard work. "It changed my life," Morganson noted. "I feel better."

Couch to 5K Training

People find out about the program through various channels, such as a friend's suggestion or a notice in a local coffee shop. "I'm grateful my dear friend saw the flier at BeanTowne Coffee and shared the info with me," Kalila Foster said. Foster said she felt "brand new" after completing the Couch to 5K and said there was a long list of things that contributed to her success. That included the support, encouragement and lack of judgment, which she called "comforting."

"There were runners from all walks of life and we all meshed and became one with a common goal to run and complete a 5K," Foster said in her testimonial. "Everyone was so encouraging and supportive and many friendships were forged. The phrase 'strength in numbers' holds true."

McGarry sees success in many of the people who have completed the program and are still his running comrades to this day. The program's numbers continue to grow. It's a springtime ritual that can bring not only healthy living, but also a chance to meet new friends and share the joys of the open road. 

"The satisfying part for me is that they are still at it," McGarry said.

More info: Couch to 5K Program (Free!)


Join the GDTC!

Join!The GDTC is a non-profit charitable organization formed in 1978 to promote running and support our community. We are proud to be known as "the best fun running club in New England." Join the GDTC Today!

Monthly Meetings

MGCCGDTC club meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month, 7:30pm at the Marion Gerrish Community Center, Derry, NH. The meetings are open to all members. Marion Gerrish Community Center Map

Sunday Long Runs

Coffe ShopClub long runs are held every Sunday at 8:00AM (7:00AM Memorial Day – Labor Day) at The Coffee Factory 55 Crystal Ave, Hood Commons, Derry, NH. Sunday Long Run Maps. Map to Hood Plaza Coffee Factory.