Each spring, The Jefferson Trust awards two $2,500 Intramural-Recreational Awards to club athletic teams that excel in the areas of commitment, leadership and service to the community. This year, the Running Club at UVA and Virginia Riding Team were recipients at an early April ceremony.
With over two hundred active members a season, the Running Club at UVA is one of the largest clubs on Grounds. Team members practice six days a week to train for the season’s upcoming meets, following workouts and training runs prepared by the team’s elected workout coordinators. Some members are not competitive in meets, but participate in the club to stay physically active with a fun, social group.
Challenging and dedicated training has made the Running Club competitive, both in their track and cross country meets; since 2016, they have had many athletes earn All-American status. This past season the men’s cross country team earned 3rd place at the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association Cross Country Regionals, and the women’s cross country team had one All-American finisher, with a team finish of 8th (out of 27). The Running Club also hosts an annual track meet in the spring and cross country meet in the fall, and both meets have drawn many teams from the mid-Atlantic region, garnering attention as one of the largest meets in the country.
When not running on the track or cross country course, the Running Club is busy in the Charlottesville running community. Each year they organize a charity 5k for the local chapter of Girls on the Run, as well as this year hosting a “Run-a-thon” for St. Jude’s. Also this year, the club worked with the Charlottesville Track Club to help execute the Charlottesville 10-miler with pre-race and race day volunteer efforts.
The Virginia Riding Team is comprised of 70 team members with varied riding experience, from true beginners to advanced riders. Members can choose to take lessons once or twice a week, ride without instruction as often as they like, and participate in a free clinic with a professional trainer each spring.
The Riding Team competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Circuit and Collegiate Cup, with each format offering unique riding opportunities. At IHSA riders draw a horse’s name out of a hat, then ride the horse with no warm-up, and at Collegiate Cup members compete on horses they have practiced with before. Both formats have been successful for UVA Riding; at IHSA the team placed second in the region this year, sent four individuals to regionals, and are sending three individuals to Zones. At the Collegiate Cup, the team has won Champion the last two years, and individual riders have placed highly as well. While some team members choose not to participate in competitions, the team works to cover the cost of showing so that competitors are never chosen based on an ability to financially afford the extra cost.
Additionally, the Riding Team works closely with the Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy (CART), sending volunteers throughout the semester to work with the horses and give lessons to children and adults with disabilities.
Both the Running Club and Riding Team pride themselves on their sense of community, inclusivity, and togetherness. Supporting each other in competition, training, and giving back to the Charlottesville community are keys that make these club sports successful and impactful for team members.