Visit any of Denver's parks, and you’re bound to see a steady stream of runners criss-crossing the pavement. Joggers are a regular fixture in the Mile High City, and one Denver nonprofit is aiming to increase their presence even further. Achilles International connects able-bodied runners with athletes with disabilities for fun, no-pressure group running outings. The goal? To help all athletes boost their confidence through the natural endorphin rush, and sense of accomplishment that comes with athletic achievement.
Achilles International—which touts more than 100 chapters in 41 countries, ranging from Mongolia to Trinidad—made its way to Colorado in March, when dedicated distance runner Michael Oliva founded the Denver branch. Oliva was no stranger to Achilles—he had volunteered for the New York City branch for seven years before moving to Denver in 2012. Oliva says the group runs are an excellent avenue to introduce the outdoors to individuals who often can’t experience it. “It can be challenging to be active outdoors,” he says. “It always helps to have a partner.”
Get Involved: Join Achilles International for a run—or leisurely walk—every Monday at 6 p.m. in Wash Park (rain, shine, or snow). The group meets at the northeast corner of the park, at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Franklin Street. Attendees are divided into groups of about five, based on running pace. Simply show up at the park, or RSVP through Oliva’s other group, Colorado Runs, here. Not much of a runner? Achilles International is always looking for volunteers to provide transportation for participants.
Shout Out: At June’s 5280 Challenge, a USA Track & Field competition for athletes of all physical abilities, Achilles member Amelia Dickerson ran the outdoor 5,000-meter track event in 22 minutes, 6 seconds—a new record for a female B1 athlete (a designation for total blindness). Dickerson isn't done yet, though: She'll attempt to break her own record at a race in Boulder on July 18.
—Image courtesy of Michael Oliva