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Making a run at teamwork: Beardsley group aims to aid those with chemical addictions

They may be seen running in a sweaty group. They may run down your neighborhood streets.

Who are they?

They are the newly formed and New Balance-sponsored, Dick Beardsley Running Company club team. The running team is meant to give community runners an opportunity to compete together and improve.

"We thought, 'Why not?'" said Dick Beardsley, a co-founder and co-owner of the Dick Beardsley Running Company and team.

Currently, there are 32 runners, 23 men and nine women, who run in New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. and DBRC apparel.

The team ran their debut race last Wednesday in the Dick Beardsley Foundation's "Run for Your Life" five-mile race.

The race was a fundraiser for the foundation, which aims to provide support to those who have chemical addictions, not unlike Beardsley who was addicted to pain medication in the 1990s.

The team

"The idea is to get a group of individuals that want to go out, race as a team, have fun as a group, represent the store and really compete in the area," said Greg Hammes, a co-owner of the DBRC.

Hammes noted there are a variety of abilities on the team, but that takes second to the fact that they can have fun in a group.

Being a part of a team is a big motivator, said Greg Liebl, a team member and co-owner and manager of the store.

"It should be fun," he said. "Now they'll feel more accountable, being on the team, you know -- 'Got to get my run in.'"

Liebl ran for North Dakota State University's cross-country and track teams from 2003 to 2007.

Most on the team knew each other from participating in the store's Monday night group runs, Liebl said.

To join the team may not be as easy as in high school or even college. It's more like applying for a job.

"We basically look at their running resume, look at their dedication -- a lot of them are people that maybe their times aren't that good, but they love to race, they do well in their age category and they're willing to wear the Beardsley gear and the New Balance gear and promote both in a positive way and hey, that's the kind of people we're looking for," Beardsley said.

While in uniform, it's important for the team to be seen in a positive way.

"We don't require a lot from them other than the fact that: No. 1, they conduct themselves in a positive manner all the time," he said.

In return teammates are asked to participate in local races wearing their DBRC and New Balance apparel.

They get discounts from the store for being on the team.

Being a new team, they don't have immediate plans besides continuing to train, compete and improve, he said.

"They're out there putting in the time and we just want to support them," Liebl said.

In the future they plan to compete in more national meets and possibly qualify for the national cross-country club team competition.

The sponsorship

Last year the organizers contacted the Boston-based company, who Beardsley's been sponsored by since 1979, and received the sponsorship through the company's grassroots program.

"When we approached them about sponsoring our racing team, they didn't even hesitate," Beardsley said.

The sponsorship gives New Balance company exposure since the team will wear New Balance running shoes in races.

"This one is especially unique, we definitely wanted to make sure we had a presence on the Dick Beardsley running team," said Daniel Green, 30, an integrated marketing associate specifically with running for New Balance.

They received the sponsor request fairly late in their application cycle, Green said, but due to the company's history with Beardsley they saw it as a special favor.

"I think this team in particular is an expansion of our continuing relationship with Dick and his endeavors," Green said.

The sponsorship was unique in one sense -- Beardsley -- but otherwise New Balance could have sponsored any store.

"Programs like this are something we take pride in," Green said.

With the new sponsorship Beardsley is confident that several runners on the team could move up in the ranks and be individually sponsored by New Balance, like himself.

Not everyone may want to move up, Beardsley said, but he knows some of the younger runners want to see how far they can go with running.

"Unless you pursue your dream, you're never going to know," Beardsley said.