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The running club put on socially distanced events during the pandemic, but now they are gearing up for the real thing.

PMG FILE PHOTO - In a file photo from December 2019, the MADras Runners take part in the Canyon Rumble Frozen Half Marathon, which meanders up and around M Hill in Madras. The club hopes to restart the event in 2022.After going on hiatus during the pandemic, one local group is ready to lace back up their running shoes.

MADras Runners, a group started by Jamie Hurd about ten years ago, is getting back together to renew its goal of building an active, healthy community in Madras.

And before you ask: yes, the "MAD" in MADras Runners is meant to be written in all capital letters.

"Like, 'just a little crazy,'" explained Hurd with a laugh. "We're crazy for running."

Hurd and fellow devoted runner Mario Mendoza Jr. are spearheading the effort to bring that passion back to the running paths of Jefferson County. And they're just crazy enough to get started in the winter.

Even as the icy grip of December weather tightens its fist around the county, Hurd and Mendoza are determined to get things started. In that spirit, the club's first run of the season will be this Saturday at Eagle Bakery, 218 Southwest Third Street, beginning at 8 a.m. (More details provided on Page B2.)

While the cold weather may have some reaching for the remote this holiday season, running in wintry conditions is nothing new for the MADras Runners.

Prior to the pandemic, the group had put on the Canyon Rumble Frozen Half Marathon in Madras, and Hurd says she hopes that tradition can continue in future years. The event was last put on in 2019, but hopefully it will return in December 2022.

The COVID freeze wasn't all bad, though. The MADras Runners developed a weekly challenge in which people could walk or run — socially distanced — on a course that was set up in Madras.

"You could go walk it, run it, any time you wanted," explained Hurd. "It was an honor system. If you said you did it, we put your name in. There was nothing about times, it was just about getting out because people were so bogged down and locked up in COVID. It was tremendously successful."

As the pandemic freeze finally begins to thaw out, Hurd and Mendoza are excited to create even more opportunities for people to get out and get active in a lighthearted group setting.

The pair emphasized that they hoped that nobody would feel discouraged by any sort of barrier — be it physical, mental, financial, or a lack of experience.

"Because this is low-key," said Mendoza, "there's no pressure. You have community. You have other people to feed off of. I think we're pretty encouraging. We're also wanting to provide education — show them what shoes to use, maybe even help out with getting those."

It is worth noting that despite the laid back nature of the MADras Runners, the group is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As such, the group has applied for and received grants to help organize running events and provide equipment to those in need.

The runs will not just be confined to Madras, either. Hurd and Mendoza listed Bend, Redmond, Smith Rock, Prineville and Culver as other potential locations for meet-ups with other Central Oregon running groups.

Wherever they run, Hurd and Mendoza are just happy to be back out in the world.

"It really is the best medication, the best cure-all," said Hurd. "We just want to share that with people."


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