The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Bill Johnson for Alaska House

By STEVEN WEBER
Valdez Star 

Running out of time: new club's leader is looking to pass the baton

All experience levels are encouraged to join others on Wednesday evenings

 

Steven Weber photo

Joseph Sosa Wednesday, competing in the Uncle Salmon 5K Fun Run.

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

The famous words of Steve Prefontaine, who once held the World Record in every long-distance event, have inspired a physical therapist from Racine, Wisconsin, who has been working at Providence Hospital since February - and is following in those footsteps.

Joseph Sosa and his wife Sara recently started a running club in Valdez after noticing the absence of one. The club meets at Dock point at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

By Sosa combining his full time medical position with another form of medicine he was better able to help some individuals meet their health needs beyond his full-time position.

According to a 21-year Archives of Internal Medicine study, which followed 1,000 adults over the age of fifty, 85 percent of the runners were still alive while only 66 percent of the non-runners were. According to Business Insider, the longer life expectancy may be impacted by the positive mental health benefits of running and not just the physical benefits. BI found running can reduce stress, improve heart health, and even help alleviate the symptoms of depression.

When I caught up with Sosa it was not until after the July 4th Uncle Salmon 5k ended. Sosa finished third with an impressive time of seventeen minutes and nine seconds or five minutes and thirty-one seconds per mile.

"It was an awesome turnout for a town of this size," he said.

Sosa said the 5K race attracted runners with a wide range of experience – which is similar to the makeup of the running club.

"One of the best things about running is that you can do it for a lifetime and you really only compete against yourself," he said. "It also helps that you can run anytime, anywhere."

(The Gym at the College which charges $50 per month for a family for an annual membership and $25 for an individual makes it possible to partake in cardio on inclement weather days.)

Sosa said he hopes that the Fourth of July 5k, which had 117 finishers, can get more people involved that are interested in running.

Steven Weber photo

"I think it was a good start to hopefully encouraging more community type running activities and that he thinks it will be a fun thing going forward," he said.

Sosa, who works as a travelling physical therapist, will be ending his time in Valdez in August. He hopes that the running club can expand its membership and continue after he is gone.

"We are off to a great start with a mixture of runners and new members are free to come join us on Wednesday," he said.

Howard Banich, a team-mate of Steve Prefontaine, described Steve as, "the definition of what a distance runner can be." Sosa is living up to this high standard in both leadership by starting a running club and striving for impressive times each race.

 

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