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Enjoy warmer weather with a new activity
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Get active

Looking to get in shape now that spring is here? Try these local groups:

Lanier Running Club

Who: Open to runners, walkers, joggers, high and middle school track and cross country
When: Meetings, 7 p.m. first Mondays; runs, 8 a.m. third Saturday mornings
Where: Meetings, Johnny’s Pizza, 104 Carrington Park Drive, Gainesville; runs, Riverside Military Academy, Gainesville
How much: Meetings free, membership $10 for kids, $20 individual and $30 per family
Contact: 770-983-1328

Chicken City Cyclists

When: 6 p.m. Wednesdays; 6 p.m. second Thursdays
Where: Wednesdays from the downtown Gainesville square; second Thursdays from Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant, 1011 Riverside Drive, Gainesville
Contact: 770-534-7075 or unnoldl@charter.net

There are a lot more warm days now in Northeast Georgia, thanks to spring’s arrival.

This means people can take advantage of longer, warmer days by walking, running and biking all over town.

But if you are sitting at home wondering how to get involved in some of these outdoor activities, there are clubs that are excited to share their sport with you.

"I guess running is something that I have done for a long time and enjoy it, and I try to try to share that enjoyment and make it a positive," said Natalie Kean, the secretary for the 50-member Lanier Running Club. "I try to encourage people to come run with me ... take their mind off how far they are running and make it a social experience."

Kean moved to the Gainesville area in August from St. Louis and joined the club in November. She said the group was very welcoming.

"I think everybody that is a part of this group is passionate about the sport and getting other people involved ... they actually want to share it," said Kean, who ran cross country in high school and in college at the University of Wyoming. "It’s very easy to get to know people."

But you don’t have to be an accomplished runner to be a part of the group.

"Our mission is to promote the benefits and enjoyment of running. This is not an elite running group," said Michael Lunsford, a club member who also serves as the webmaster. "Our mission is to promote the benefits of running (as) more social than anything."

But if running isn’t your sport, meet up with the Chicken City Cyclists, who have a laid-back view of cycling.

"Just show up and pay. If you enjoy riding, come and ride with us," said Lloyd Unnold, the secretary for the Chicken City Cyclists. "We just ride the bikes. We really don’t get into racing ... we try to express being safe as often as possible. It (cycling) should be like it used to be when you were a kid ... freeing and fun."

The club rides in the Gainesville, Oakwood, Alto, Flowery Branch, Dahlonega, Dawsonville and Robertstown areas.

"We have rides scheduled from the square on Wednesday at 6 p.m.," said Unnold, who has been a member of the club since 1988. "We also ride every Saturday if it doesn’t rain. Our Wednesday ride is usually out to the East Hall area ... roughly 22 miles and it takes about an hour and a half.

"We average about 15 miles per hour, a good steady pace."

The Lanier Running Club meets each month at Johnny’s Pizza on Dawsonville Highway and welcomes a guest speaker at each club meeting.

"This coming month we are having Don McClellan, he’s been with WSB-Channel 2 for many years and he’s also a runner," said Shari Lunsford, a club member and the wife of Michael Lunsford. "We’ve had coaches, different people in the running community, sometimes we have a chiropractor or different speakers from gyms."

Shari didn’t start running with the club until about seven years ago. She had never been a runner but said she loves the sport now.

"I was 50 when I started running; that shows you that we do have all ages because we are working with the high school kids now and then you have people in their 50s, 60s and 70s," she said. "I am a breast cancer survivor of 12 years. It helped me with the weight, with the eating ... overall health and wellness."

The running club also welcomes 8- to 18-year-olds to be a part of running. The club is a member of USA Track and Field and a part of the Junior Olympics. This year they took 23 high schoolers to compete on the state level and about 15 to regional and national competition.

"It went great the first year," Michael Lunsford said. "So now we are trying to recruit even more."

Next up for the Lanier Running Club is the ChickEkiden, which is a 26.2-mile relay race "held in conjunction with the chicken festival," Lunsford said. "The most interesting thing about the race is that we use a rubber chicken instead of a baton."

The relay is at 8:30 a.m. April 25 and starts on the downtown Gainesville square.

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