The group is made up of runners and walkers at levels ranging from beginners to competitive racers. The runners meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as Saturday mornings in the parking lot behind the Whistle Post Tavern. From there they take off to various routes through Olde Town Conyers.
Founder Johnny Howard inadvertently began the club while on a personal quest to lower his cholesterol without medication. He did just that and he continues to motivate others towards their own objectives. Howard makes sure no man is left behind. He takes pride in making others "feel like part of the group and giving them a reason to come back."
Until a year ago Craig McCullough, a longtime friend of Howard's, balked at the thought of running. In late February, McCullough decided that rather than giving something up for Lent, he would add something, but something positive. His first time out with the OTRs wasn't pretty -4+ he made it a half mile before stopping to walk. But fast forward to November, and McCullough completed his first half marathon race on Thanksgiving Day. His buddy, Aaron Brooks, was also in on McCullough's plan for Lent and has continued to rack up mileage dropping 50 pounds in the process.
Often running is a solitary sport driven by high-energy tunes on one's iPod. But belonging to a group such as the OTR not only adds accountability, but also encouragement. While participating in area races, the first finishers in the OTR pack are always on hand at the finish line to cheer on their compatriots. A member's first race or personal record is celebrated by the rest of the group.
Though dedicated to their training, the OTRs are also a social bunch who often go for a bite and a brew after their run. They also often meet up for football games and chili cook-offs. As of now, the club is well stacked with Georgia Tech fans, but the Bulldog minority will not let them forget the outcome of this year's game.
The group meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in the Whistle Post parking lot at 935 Railroad St. NW in Conyers. Check out their Web site www.oldetownrunners.com or visit their Facebook page for more information.