'Oregon' running camp hopes to inspire young athletes
Thirty years ago, New Milford played host to an elite running camp geared toward area cross country athletes, on the campus of Canterbury School.
Hosted by shoe and apparel giant Adidas, mega-stars like Norway's iconic Grete Waitz, Alberto Salazar, University of Oregon coach Bill Dellinger, along with New Milford distance running legends Gerry Vanasse and Peter Squires, came to town to run with and instruct emerging harriers.
Three decades later, Canterbury will again play host the first week in August to a top-notch summer program called the Oregon Style Running Camp.
The camp is steeped in the philosophy of runners being mentally and physically ready before the cross country season starts.
The camp will once again have a strong connection to the University of Oregon, the epicenter of American long-distance running, as it did 30 years ago when Salazar attended Canterbury as a guest speaker.
This summer, Nicole Blood, a multiple times All-American while at Oregon, will be one of the guest stars.
And Squires, a New Milford High School graduate and star athlete at Manhattan College in the 1960s and '70s, will make a return visit.
Squires, the finest in a long chain of outstanding NMHS distance runners, worked for Adidas at the time and was instrumental in organizing the first Canterbury camp.
"I'm so excited to hear that a camp is coming back to New Milford," said Squires, who now lives in New Jersey and works for BMW. "The Adidas camp was so big with so many stars with all types of media coverage."
"This can be a good forum to show kids that success comes from hard work," he remarked. "If they do things right it can all come together."
The camp is the brainchild of track and cross country coaches Ed Butt of Brookfield High School and Brian Hayes of Immaculate High School.
Between the two, they have won numerous state championships and have coached dozens of all-state and all-New England performers, some who also found great success in college.
Butt said he is glad Squires will come back to his hometown to talk about running and his vast experiences, that included a strong friendship with late Oregon legend Steve Prefontaine.
Squires found great success both in the United States and internationally at a time when the American running boom was in full flight.
Running up to 200 miles per week wasn't uncommon to Squires back then nor was his ability to win more than one road race in the same day.
"We are glad to have Pete come back and speak," said Butt. "The kids could learn so much from him and so could the coaches."
Former Brookfield High graduate and University of Colorado cross country all American Mike Nahom and high school coaches such as Chris Bacich of the highly successful New Milford High boys' cross country team will give talks.
The days will include twice daily runs, but there will be plenty of time for rest, swims, socializing and talks about different training methods, nutrition, goal setting, injury prevention and developing the right mental attitude.
The camp session will be Aug. 3-8 for runners aged 12 to 18.
Overnight and day camperships are offered.
For more information, go to www.oregonstylerunningcamp.com, e-mail coach Butt at firstname.lastname@example.org, coach Hayes at email@example.com, or check their Facebook page.
Contributing writer Dave Dunleavy is a former longtime writer for The Spectrum's sister paper, The News-Times, and owns a long resume of successes in distance running, the latest as the current director of both the Kent Pumpkin Run and the Polar Bear Run at Lake Waramaug.