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Early morning runs help athletes get ready for fall sports season

August 11, 2018
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Participants complete one of their final runs during the Runnapalooza running camp in Stewart Park in Roseburg on Friday.

Runnapalooza 2018 came to a splashing end Friday morning when approximately 50 students participated in a water balloon battle to finish camp.

The running camp put on by Roseburg High School cross country coach Nathan Eckman and his wife, Mary, has been going for more than a decade and the groups have gotten much larger since that first camp.

“We have a blast with it,” Mary Eckman said. “It’s fun to hang out with the kids.”

They’ve also made it more of a family affair as their two daughters — Sylvia and Eliza — now help out at the camp. Sylvia Eckman will be a sixth grader at Joseph Lane Middle School and Eliza Eckman a freshman at Roseburg High School.

“We get to help decide the games for the younger kids and we picked out the colors of the shirts,” Sylvia Eckman said. The shirts are azure blue with bright pink letters and the names of all the campers are printed on the back.

Traditionally, the camp has taken place in the afternoon and early evening, but this year the Eckmans changed it to the morning.

“It feels good,” camper Wyatt Olinghouse said about the early start. “It gets me ready for the day.”

A senior running camp, for those ages 11-19, took place from 7 to 8:30 a.m. while a junior running camp, for ages 6-10, took place from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

“I’ve been running with the older kids but (Thursday) I decided to make pancakes,” Sylvia Eckman said. “I can get more miles in with the older kids. The little kids are fun to play games with.”

Children attended the camp for a variety of reasons, but an overarching theme for the senior campers was getting in shape for fall sports.

“I wanted to get better for track and also get in good shape for football,” Olinghouse said. Olinghouse will be an eighth-grader at Fremont Middle School this year and attended the RHS football camp for middle schoolers last week.

Elana Familio, who will start seventh grade at Fremont, said, “Cross country starts in a week and a half, so I wanted to get back in shape.”

She’s also used the camp to meet new people and make new friends.

“I like to run around town and seeing new things,” Olinghouse said. “It’s never boring. We do some games after a run.”

The younger kids play games to keep busy while they also work on stamina; many of them are now able to run for 20 consecutive minutes.

“The young kids are getting along really well and that’s fun to see,” Mary Eckman said.

Seniors campers also played games, with capture the flag as a camp favorite.

In past years, the Eckmans have hosted a barbecue, but with their morning workouts this year they changed it to a pancake (and waffle) breakfast.

The location of the camp has changed over the years, the activities have differed year to year, but in the end the result has been the same — a group of kids who had a lot of fun running around.

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