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Running champs start camp

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Running may be one of the most natural, intuitive sports there is, but doing it well isn’t as easy as it seems. Two recent Yellow Springs High School graduates, Sam Borchers and Evan Firestone, learned a lot about distance running before going on to win state and national championships in their track and cross country events. They are returning to the village next week to pass on their skills to young hopefuls aiming to improve on their natural abilities.

The Miami Valley Trail Life Distance Running Camp is a one-week intensive training experience for runners in grades seven through 12. The residential camp is based on the Antioch College campus, where participants will reside, eat their meals, attend lectures and leave for their daily regimen of runs throughout the village and in Glen Helen and John Bryan State Park.

Borchers and Firestone conceived of the camp based on Borchers’ experience coaching at a youth running camp the past two summers at Penn State, where he is heading into his senior year as a member of the track and cross country teams. Borchers and Firestone, who is a senior at Wright State University, set the Division III state record in the two-mile relay in 2007 with teammates Andy Peters and Alexis Onfroy. Borchers later earned recognition as the top high school miler in the country and last year became one of the top 15 collegiate runners in the country in the 800 and posted a Big Ten championship victory in the 1500-meters.

The organizers’ reputations precede them, and with a history of working well together to attain their goals, Borchers, Firestone and Peters, along with a handful of their collegiate friends, will run the camp, cook the meals, give the lectures and pass on their knowledge and experience to help shape future athletes.

“I’m excited because a lot of kids ask me questions about things like what to eat and how to practice, and I have to tell them, ‘No, you can’t eat that way’ and ‘No, you can’t double your mileage in a week,’” Borchers said. Now he gets a chance to tell a group of aspiring runners all together what they can do to improve their performance and reach for their goals.

Camp leaders plan a daily schedule that includes an early morning “shake-out” run and stretches before breakfast in the cafeteria, followed by a lecture on everything from nutrition to motivation and goal setting. The morning and evening track sessions could include runs along the Glen’s 25 miles of nature trails or John Bryan State Park’s variable terrain, and some will be in conjunction with a practice of the Miami Valley Track Club, led by Vince Peters, who is a long-time YSHS cross country and track coach, a collegiate NAIA coach and the USATF chairman and USA Olympic Trials committee member.

The camp runs from Monday, July 19, through Thursday, July 22, and costs $190–$250 per person. With 20 male and female athletes signed up so far from the Dayton area and some from Pennsylvania, Borchers needs at least 30 to start breaking even on the costs for food and facility rental, he said this week. And he especially hopes to get local runners to sign up for the experience as well.

Borchers is eager to get this first year trial off the ground so that he can continue to improve the model in the future. And he is particularly enthusiastic about passing on the powerful experience of working with a team to achieve. A team doesn’t win with just one great runner, but rather relies on the individual strengths of all of its runners who motivate each other and can earn not just first place but also crucial second, third, and fourth place positions to win together, Borchers said. The leaders of that team need skills to recruit, motivate and strategize in order to achieve success, he said.

“Leaders know how to build up a team, and I’m hoping to use this camp to build leaders,” he said.

For registration and other camp information, go to or call Sam Borchers at 689-2459.

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