Cross country practice leads to community run club open to all

Published 12:36 am Saturday, June 17, 2023

PORT NECHES — For Coach Josh Tanner, ensuring Port Neches-Groves High School Cross Country student-athletes stay in shape during the summer is a high priority.

But this year, the 10-year veteran turned an off-season program into a community event that’s attracting participants from all over Port Neches and Groves.

In June, Tanner began Three Mile Thursdays. The walk/run is open to anyone in the community, no matter the age.

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At 7 a.m., they meet outside the competition gym at the high school for approximately 15 minutes of warm-up, and then set off to complete at least one mile.

“One lap around the school is one mile, pretty much,” Tanner said. “Everyone does at least one. It’s just something for us to do together over the summer and stay in shape.”

At the beginning of the month, Tanner had 20 members join. This past week, it more than doubled with 50.

“It’s just fun,” the coach said. “It’s something for us to do as a community, and it also encourages our high school kids.”

Morgan Campbell, who will be a sophomore in the upcoming school year, said Three Mile Thursdays definitely motivate her.

“It’s hard to run by yourself,” she said. “It’s hard to have the motivation to get up and run. On Three Mile Thursday, a whole bunch of people come out, support and all run to get exercise. It’s good to run with people.”

Campbell’s family have joined on occasion.

“You don’t have to run it,” Morgan’s mom, Angel Campbell, said. “You can walk it or ride your bicycle.”

Campbell, who also participates in track and soccer, has been running since middle school.

“Morgan runs a five-minute mile,” Tanner said. “It’s pretty great to watch her go. I can’t run one mile with her at her 4-5 mile pace.”

But in addition to the track and cross country members, the group has been joined by school board trustees, faculty members, community leaders and others wanting to fellowship while exercising.

“Running doesn’t get the notoriety team sports get,” Tanner said. “You don’t realize it, but there are a lot of people who enjoy it. This is just a way to start together. We finish at different times.”

And, as a bonus, it’s a way for him to check on his athletes before a new season begins.

“Three Mile Thursday is for everyone,” Campbell said. “You can come out and just get exercise. It’s just a safe place to run.”