SHERIDAN — Seth Ulvestad is no stranger to running.
The Sheridan native laced up his sneakers for Art Baures and the Sheridan High School cross-country team before taking his talents to Spearfish, South Dakota, to run for the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets.
Ulvestad said it best himself.
“I have a real passion for running.”
So when the distance runner made his way back to Sheridan, this time through a job at the Sheridan Recreation District, he had his mind set on bringing together folks with a similar passion.
He created the Penrose Pacers.
Ulvestad didn’t have an in-depth description for the Pacers. It’s simply a running club. That’s pretty much the gist of it.
“I just want to express to people that you don’t have be some sort of elite athlete to get out the door and run,” he said. “For this club, especially. You don’t need to have any special times that you have to get out. You can be walking. We just want to get you out the door.”
Ulvestad pointed out that running isn’t a foreign beast in Sheridan.
The numbers continue to increase for local cross-country and track teams. Big Horn and Tongue River High Schools are in the early stages of developing new cross-country programs.
Registrations fill up in minutes for the ever-popular Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run. There are 5K races scattered throughout the year, and The Sport Stop continues to create new and creative races to add to the list of events in Sheridan.
But those are timed events. Those are races.
The Penrose Pacers puts an emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle more than competition.
So, despite the name of the group, Ulvestad isn’t trying to set a pace when he jumps ahead of the group on one of their Wednesday evening runs. His pace is going to be much different than the other runners in the group.
That’s OK. That’s the point.
Working toward achieving short- and long-term training goals and creating a running environment where all abilities feel welcome are two of the main goals of the group.
But that doesn’t mean the Penrose Pacers isn’t open to competitive runners.
In fact, Ulvestad would like to see the competitive runners of Sheridan come together and help each other train or even help beginning runners who may aspire to compete at some point.
“I think a lot of community members would like to compete in some of those events,” Ulvestad said about races such as the Bighorn Trail Run. “Sometimes they just don’t really have the training methods to do so or don’t have the motivation. Meeting people for a run is a bigger motivating factor to get out the door.”
Getting out the door is an important part of the process, both literally and figuratively.
While it’s the hope of the running club to create a first step in getting people active, the Pacers are also taking advantage of Sheridan’s natural running environment.
Last week, the Pacers hit the Soldier Ridge Trail for their weekly run. The week before, they met at Centennial Park in Story. They’ve attacked the new Red Grade Trails and, of course, taken advantage of the pathways throughout Sheridan.
“I want to get out of town and take advantage of the soft surfaces and the great scenery,” Ulvestad said. “I want to see these great things that the city of Sheridan is doing, these trails and pathways, I want to see them get utilized for things other than races. You’re not competing. You’re just getting together and using what your town has to offer.”
Ulvestad hopes that his passion for running can help other group members expand their abilities, as well. Having spent the last several years training and racing competitively, he is more than willing to help others achieve their personal running goals.
That’s basically why the Penrose Pacers was created.
He also plans on attending a certification course that will help him further establish a running group and help expand his training knowledge.
At the end of the day, though, he wants to create a running community. Between the close-knit community of Sheridan and the idea that it is crucial to surround oneself with equally as motivated people in running, Ulvestad feels the Penrose Pacers is something the Sheridan community needs.
Whether you’re training for a marathon, trying to shed a few extra pounds or breath in some of the crisp Wyoming air, the Penrose Pacers have a spot for you.
“I don’t care what kind of fitness you’re in or what kind of shoes you show up in,” Ulvestad said. “Just show up and run with us. There are groups that will fit your pace. We’re not all out here to kill each other.”
Ulvestad gave credit to his former cross-country coach, Art Baures from Sheridan High School, when describing the fun environment he’s trying to emulate.
“We’re going to split up and just have fun,” Ulvestad said. “Baures calls it ‘conversation pace,’ and I really like using that. That’s something our club can really take advantage of. Just make it fun and talk on our runs.”
The Penrose Pacers run every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and typically a second time on the weekends.
Interested runners can show up at the runs — locations are posted each week on the Sheridan Recreation District Facebook page — or contact Ulvestad at the SRD to join an email list.
The easiest way to get involved, though, is to follow Ulvestad’s advice.
“Just show up.”