SHEBOYGAN — Adding to the many accolades and reasons to live in Sheboygan County comes a new designation for runners and walkers.
The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) recently designated Sheboygan County a Runner Friendly Community.
The application process to earn the distinction began several years ago with extensive paperwork completed by Donna Wendlandt, CEO of the Sheboygan County YMCA, and Shoreline Striders founding member and longtime president, Roy Pirrung. Their efforts were complemented by input from Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen, Sheboygan Chief of Police Christopher Domagalski, Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne, Sheboygan Director of Planning and Conservation Aaron Brault, letter of support from the Sports Core, and video from Asher Heimermann.
The video showed runners in the community participating with law enforcement agencies in the 2017 Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The Runner Friendly Community naming means the area has an infrastructure that can foster physical activity for runners and walkers in a safe environment, supported by events and businesses willing to partner with them to maintain active lifestyles and provide availability of water, restrooms, or safe places as needed. The most important criteria for being named Runner Friendly is positive relationships between the running community and local government. Every five years a Runner Friendly Community must work with the RRCA to ensure it continues to meet the expectations for the designation.
Pirrung’s long-standing involvement with the local running club, originally named Shoreline Striders, has been well known. The club underwent a name change in 2015 to their current Sheboygan County Shoreline Strider Running Club. Their mission is to promote a healthier lifestyle through running and walking by supporting their members and the community.
Sheboygan County offers 25 miles of lakefront running routes interspersed with parks and rest stops. The city has a variety of running surfaces that include state park trails, sand dunes, natural areas, black top and crushed limestone trails. The county underwent significant redevelopment over the past twenty years including a key project in 2013 when the Shoreland 400 Rail Trail opened on a former Union Pacific Railroad corridor through the heart of the city.
With over 30% of county resident living within a mile of that trail, it offers a convenient and safe transportation and recreation option for thousands of residents. Through a $25 million grant, Sheboygan County has completed marking designated lanes for running and cycling throughout the area.
Only seven other communities received the special 2017 Runner Friendly distinction including Frederick, MD; Golden CO; Holland, MI; Huntington Woods, MI; Ithaca, NY; Memphis, TN; and Minneapolis, MN.