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Running, fun for all

RAF Mildenhall -- "Helping to develop the social aspect of running is my aim," said Cindy Neldner.

With a real passion for running, Neldner, a military spouse, devotes a great deal of time helping others perfect their running capabilities, while at the same time, helping runners make friends. This is how Neldner hopes to make running a form of social networking, especially for those new to the area.

"We have meet-ups throughout the week," Neldner said.

Neldner uses her Facebook page to inform members of her running club meetings and to help spread the word about off-base events in Thetford, Newmarket and London. Her running group meets every Tuesday evening at RAF Lakenheath and Thursday evenings at RAF Mildenhall. The exact meet-up location varies so she uses her Facebook page to inform members. The group also meets Saturday and Sunday mornings for a long run at different locations.

"My mom was always my coach," Neldner said. It was this early inspiration, mixed with having older siblings who were heavily involved in scholastic sports, that encouraged her positive attitude toward fitness and remaining active from childhood and beyond.

As she grew, Neldner developed a passion for running, leading her to take part in track and field in college as well as play basketball throughout her academic career.

Her dedication to running has never waned, allowing her to inspire others to find their niche in running, too.

As a spouse of a service member, she realized newly-arrived spouses often don't have anyone with whom they can socialize. So, Neldner found a way for people to meet and develop their fitness by setting up the running club. The group accepts all base ID card holders who have an interest in fitness and meeting like-minded people.

The club is a small group that has been running for more than a year. Its small size allows runners to get to know each other well, which means it's less intimidating for new members or those new to running. They usually have between five and 10 members meeting during the week, which increases to between 10 to 20 on the weekends.

"The club is a great place to ask questions about running injuries," Neldner said.

People can also ask questions about life over-seas and being in the military. The group members also can rely on each other for friendship and support.

"We're getting a big coach together," Neldner said of transportation when describing their organized trips to marathons.

Neldner stays in touch with her current runners, past members and potential newcomers to the group through her Facebook page, RAF Running Club. Here Neldner regularly posts facts about running or information on upcoming runs or events, such as the wing runs held here.

Another perk of being a member of her running club is the exposure to the wide range of knowledge the runners have - from beginner to novice to experienced marathon runner, there are many levels for a new runner to synch with. The club is a social event for new people, with pot-luck meetings and a parent-friendly environment so all members can take part. The main thing the club encourages, besides increasing or maintaining fitness, is enjoying being in this new environment.

"We take turns watching each other's kids," Neldner said. "Our main focus is that everyone has fun."