When you think of a track club, you might be transported back to middle or high school, to Gatorade and granola bars and after-school meets. However, the Rhode Island Track Club is anything but elementary: based in Providence, it’s made up of 17 dedicated, elite middle-distance and distance runners chasing their dreams after successful collegiate running careers. “Many athletes graduating college have only just begun to scratch the surface of their running potential,” explains assistant coach Michael Fadil, “but continuing to train and compete outside the collegiate system can be a challenge.” This, he says, is where RITC steps in. “[We] provide an opportunity for athletes to continue progressing within the sport, thereby allowing them to reach their full potential.”
While RITC only officially formed in the early stages of the pandemic, its roots are traced back to New England Distance, which provided coaching opportunities for elite runners to assist middle school running programs. When COVID-19 hit and those track and field and cross-country programs paused, NED was forced to fold. RITC is the reinvention that emerged: a running club with a focus on the development of post-collegiate athletes as they pursue their goals, whether its personal progression or training to compete in the Olympic Trials.
“There are dedicated support systems for runners in middle school, high school, and college, primarily through each school’s athletic department,” says Fadil. “Post collegiately, however, it can be difficult for runners to replicate the same structure of coaching support, training partners, and elite racing venues.”
To that end, the role of RITC’s four coaches – led by Kurt Benninger and assisted by Bob Rothenberg, Jon Barnes, and Fadil – is key, combining more than ten decades of coaching experience and an even longer running history. Regularly, RITC members will be seen training on the streets of Providence – and you might be surprised to catch them out even now. While winter used to mean turning to the indoor track at Brown University, facilities are currently unavailable, so workouts are strictly outdoors: “On nicer days without snow, the athletes have used and will continue to use outdoor 400m tracks in the area,” says Fadil, adding that the timing of harder runs will need to adjust with the weather, and rather than focusing on a competitive indoor track season, attention will turn to runners building a base for spring.
Aside from a focus on competition, RITC is equally about community, including giving back to the state to which it belongs through accessible running events and coaching seminars throughout the year. Most importantly, they’re always looking for new members who are equally competitive and committed. “[We’re] targeting to have about 20-30 runners in the short- to immediate-term future,” says Fadil, who emphasizes the team element of training. To learn more about Rhode Island Track Club, email Fadil at email@example.com.