Columbiana Run Club bringing people together

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

The Columbiana Run Club, started by Joel Dixon earlier this year, is one of the best things to happen to its community in this crazy year we call 2020. Every Saturday morning at 6:30, a group of runners and walkers alike meet at the Shelby County Arts Council flag pole, to step out onto the sidewalks and side roads of Columbiana to get a little exercise and community with each other.

Last year, Dixon joined one of his former students in Birmingham to do the very same thing, and while he enjoyed the accountability and community that he was getting from that run club, the drive into Birmingham made it very inconvenient to launch into his day after he was done. “The more I thought about it, Columbiana was the perfect place for a run club,” Dixon told us. “It’s a beautiful town and it’s a town that already values community.” He went on to say that he hoped it would spark new friendships through physical activity and that perhaps the regulars would invite friends from neighboring towns to join in occasionally so they could see how wonderful our little town is and visit more often to do business here.

Dixon, looking back at the beginning of the formation of his group, realized that due to COVID and its impact, folks were in danger of losing connection with each other. “Between that and the social unrest, we see throughout the nation, and elections, engaging in something that is healthy is a great remedy. The community is an incredibly positive environment.”

He also recognized the long term effects a community run club could offer. “Columbiana is on the brink of some tremendous opportunities. A run club helps to add to the fabric of a vibrant small town, along with youth sports and parks, local businesses that offer unique resources, and the arts council that offers so many good things to our community.”

Don’t run? That’s OK. Dixon’s group attracts runners and walkers of all levels. Once the initial meet-up at the flag pole is underway, the participants naturally divide up into safe, socially distanced groups by different paces and abilities. The runners in particular follow the Forging Families 5k course (Forgingfamilies.run), and walkers sometimes walk different paths throughout the center of town. Everyone meets back up at the flag pole within half an hour for a quick visit and then are off to start their own individual days.

Kids and leashed pets are also welcome. Dixon’s own son also brings his bike most weeks so he can keep up with the runners. “I love that my kids get to see examples of folks of all ages choosing to be active and healthy,” says Dixon.

To learn more and keep up with the happenings at the Columbiana Run Club, be sure to like and follow their brand new Facebook page by the same name, but Dixon hopes that after doing that, you’ll show up this Saturday to join both new and old friends for fun run or walk in Columbiana.