What You Should Know about ALARC Running Club

Before starting the running club known as ALARC (pronounced “A”-Lark), hockey consumed Bill Wenmark’s life. It was not until he started to run with his roommate (with the goal of losing weight) that Bill found his passion for running, and he set a high goal for himself soon after.

As a former semi-pro hockey player, he believed he was tough enough to run 26.2 miles even though he had only run a cumulative total of 23 miles before race day. In 1978, he completed the City of Lakes Marathon in 5 hours, 59 minutes, 57 seconds.

Bill recalls passing the finish line and a volunteer approaching and congratulating him for finishing the 5k that took place after the marathoners were long gone. Bill proudly told the woman he completed his first marathon.

Learning a Better Way to Train

After recovering, Bill thought that there had to be a better way to train. As a result, Bill created a running club in 1981, because no club with its mission existed in the Twin Cities area. The American Lung Association offered to be the club’s sponsor; as a result, A.L.A.R.C. (American Lung Association Running Club) was born.

Bill said,

“The first training class started with 18 students and became so large that A.L.A.R.C. had to turn people away.”

That is when Bill decided to make A.L.A.R.C. its own non-profit organization.

To this day the club is known as ALARC (with no acronyms) and is known for being active in promoting and sponsoring fitness events. It also focuses greatly on fitness and friends. The program has trained over 3,000+ hopeful marathoners who learned how to successfully run a marathon.

Bill proudly says,

“The group includes only three runners who never made it through the full distance.”

Bill himself has completed 154 marathons, run 100-mile and 50-mile trail races, and finished the Leadville Trail 100-mile mountain bike race 13 times.

In addition to creating ALARC, Bill created a 14-week marathon training program, founded and directed the Edmund Fitzgerald 100K Road Race along the North Shore, produced the Community Fitness program at the Hopkins Lindbergh Center, created a core and speed program, started the On It and In It New Year’s Day dive into Lake Minnetonka, and created the Legend’s 10K run in Deephaven.

Also, Bill is the man behind the huge balloon wall on the 20-mile mark of the Twin Cities Marathon.

How can You get Involved?

Members can join a training club. The club has two training programs each year, one for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, and the other for the Twin Cities Marathon. In addition, ALARC sponsors travel groups to marathons in the United States and throughout the world such as Boston, New York City, Grandma’s Marathon, London, and Paris.

Also, members can participate in ALARC’s organized weekly runs around the river in St. Paul and hitting the trails at Hyland Park in Bloomington. Read information on ALARC’s weekly run coordinators in the highlights section.

The club has become the largest marathon running club in the United States with members throughout the world. To learn more about the organization and find information on its many weekly runs around the Twin Cities and its programs, visit ALARC’s website at www.alarc.com.

Highlight on ALARCs Weekly Run Coordinators:

Roger Hauge ran his first mile at age 60, and has completed 192 marathons including all 50 states plus DC three times. He has completed 14 on his fourth U.S. tour. At 82, he completes at least one marathon a month. You can run with Roger as well as with many local runners on Monday and Wednesday night. Please check the ALARC website for more information.

Claudia Wondra started running at age 24 in Southern California by joining a jogging class at Mt. San Antonio College, Pomona. From barely being able to run a mile to being able to run the hills behind Cal Poly University, her running boom was well on its way. She has completed 11 marathons, and now she enjoys running half-marathons that include many challenging hills.

She really enjoys training for the hills. Claudia says,

“Running is like play time for me and I have a lot of fun running with the friends I’ve met in ALARC.”

Claudia organizes the Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday runs. Please check the ALARC website for more information.

Are you part of ALARC? What has your experience been like? Leave your comments below.

Lisa Fenske

Lisa Fenske started running in college and now it is a big part of her life. When she isn’t training for her

next half-marathon, she enjoys discovering healthy recipes on Pinterest, volunteering for Guild

Incorporated, networking, traveling, kickboxing, and zumba.