It takes one to run, but Team RunFree has plans on making the experience meant for two.
The non-profit based in Adel allows those with physical disabilities to ride along with runners, providing the sensation of running to those unable to experience themselves.
The runners, “Navigators,” and riders, “Captains,” both work and run together to experience different distances ranging from runs around a park to 5K’s.
Team RunFree, a non-profit organization based in Adel was originally an idea in the making for Hircock.
“I actually saw it about 7 years ago when I started running and I thought I’d like to do that,” Hircock explained.
But he did not want to create the organization as part of a runner’s checklist.
He has competed in marathons, ran alongside family members, and has tossed in ideas of how he wants to switch up running for some time.
Three years later, the idea came back up and Hircock decided it was time to set up the organization.
Before it became Team RunFree, the program was operated out of Courage League Sports in Urbandale.
In July of 2016, Team RunFree became an official three-seed organization with a diverse board consisting of active runners and others.
“The board is diverse,” Hircock said. “They help govern and keep things in line.”
Team RunFree was started in July of 2016 and continues to grow through word of mouth.
“The ones [runners] I have right now tend to be the ones I know,” Hircock said. “Through our website and our Facebook, I’ve added two navigators this past week.”
To become a navigator, one must feel passionate towards the organization as Hircock describes the Navigators position as “the heart behind the cart.”
“I see if they just want one more running check list to do or if they really have a heart for people who can‘t run,” Hircock said. “Oftentimes when we get to talking, I’ll have some stories and I’ll see a point where they kind of choke up or slow down a bit and that’s where I see the heart.”
During a race or a run, Captains are seated in carts which are pushed by Navigators.
Team RunFree currently works with Captains with ages ranging from seven-years-old to twenty-seven-years-old. The responsibility to run with Captains involves a great deal of trust from the family members as well as the desire to continuously involve Captains during the race.
“We communicate with them a lot, even if it’s one way conversation,” Hircock said.
The organization works closely with family members to see what the Captains will benefit more from: lengthier, slow races, or fast, quick races.
In order to adapt to all body types, Team RunFree recently applied to the Dallas County Foundation for funds supporting a larger cart. This cart would cater to those who are taller or have a larger frame than others.
The Foundation awarded them with a check for $2,000, all of which will go into the construction of the custom-made cart.
“There’s not a lot of activity for those who are physically disabled,” Hircock said.
When Captains run with Team RunFree, the organization does not charge and will also pay for the entry fee for the race.
“The reason we care about growing is because that means there’s that many more young people and adults that we can run with,” Hircock said. “We want to make sure we are a friend of the people we run with.”
Team RunFree currently has around six individuals working as Navigators and are looking for those wishing to fill either a Captain or a Navigator position. To learn more about the organization, check out their Facebook page, “Team RunFree.”