For about as long as she can remember, Amy Campbell Columbus has had a passion for running.
Running was something Campbell Columbus came to enjoy early in her life. It began as simply a fun, healthy hobby, but grew into much more than that over time, becoming an avenue to connect with others and develop new, lasting relationships.
However, when Campbell Columbus returned to her native Culpeper County in 2011 after some time away, she discovered that there weren’t many avenues in her hometown to connect her with her fellow runners.
“There was a running club in [Culpeper], but it only met once a week,” Campbell Columbus said. “Then, after awhile, it faded away.”
Refusing to fade away along with it, Campbell Columbus took matters into her own hands. She started the Culpeper Running Club, a free-to-join community for those who share her passion for running.
“My vision from conceptualization was basically to start something that would allow people in the Culpeper community to come together and build lasting relationships through doing something we all love to do,” she said. “We have a lot of people in our area who love to run, myself included, so I wanted to spread that love to others.”
The starting line for Campbell Columbus and the CRC was in May 2018. Over a year later, she says the club continues to grow as more and more people discover its existence.
“There are already several of us who meet and run six or seven days a week,” she said. “We’ll be out there at 5 a.m. doing our thing, rain or shine, hot or cold. We were outside during 11-degree weather in the winter, knocking off icecicles so we could get our run in.”
In addition to a Facebook page and regular partnerships with running clubs in Fredericksburg and Warrenton, the Culpeper Running Club also holds monthly socials at local restaurants to spread awareness of its mission in the community.
“The community as a whole has been great,” Campbell Columbus said. “With these [socials], we’ve received great support from the local restaurants we’ve gone to.”
Campbell Columbus said a typical social involves a short meeting to get acquainted at whatever local venue it’s held at, followed by a three-to-six mile run and then a group meal at the venue afterwards.
“It’s fun,” she said. “You get the opportunity to meet so many different people that you probably wouldn’t otherwise. And it doesn’t matter if you’re into triathlons, marathons or just trying to be healthy—we’re here for everyone to provide support and any instruction they may need.”
In addition to running the club, Campbell Columbus is a licensed clinical social worker who provides outpatient therapy to adults, children and families. She’s also a mother of two to daughter Isabella and son Campbell.
“I stay busy, but the running club isn’t a job at all for me,” she said. “Running is a fun outlet for me, which is why I’ve been doing it pretty much all my life. When my kids were small, I’d push them along in the stroller while I was running. It’s just always been a big part of my life.”
The running club’s next big event is the Devil’s Den 10-Miler, which will take place on August 18 along Route 666. More information on the race is available at racetimingunlimited.org.