Dirty Ospreys trek through nature trails to prep for local marathons

Spinnaker

If you happen to be walking the nature trails around the UNF campus, you might see some animals, you might see other people walking the trails and then you might see some people running through the trails.

If you come across these runners, chances are you just encountered the Dirty Ospreys.

The Dirty Ospreys are a group of runners who trained together for the nine weeks leading up to the 33rd annual Gate River Run, held in Jacksonville March 13. The group was started to raise interest for the Gate River Run and was more for fun and exercise.

“It was more to get people excited and to encourage people to run,” said Jessica Torres, a UNF biology and spanish senior, who is one of the members of the Dirty Ospreys.

The group got its name because they do not run on the clean sidewalks or the UNF track. For the most part, they run throughout the nature trails spread throughout the UNF campus.

In the weeks leading up to the Gate River Run, the Dirty Ospreys had a group of 18 regular runners. They would meet four or five days a week, and each day they would run anywhere between four and six miles.

By the time the nine weeks had passed and the group was ready for the Gate River Run, the Dirty Ospreys had run around 130 combined miles in preparation for the 15k.

“Some of these kids had never run a race before,” Torres said. “It was really cool to see their production.”

One of the students who got a lot out of running with the Dirty Ospreys was Matthew Ellison, a UNF accounting junior. Ellison had been jogging off and on for sometime when he met with the Dirty Ospreys, and he really liked what he saw.

“I liked what they were saying, and I liked their training schedule so I started training with them,” Ellison said.

Ellison had been working out and running for about a year in a successful attempt to lose some weight. He used the Dirty Ospreys to stay focused on his fitness and help him keep running and keep in shape.

“It definitely helped me to keep working out and exercising,” he said.

Members felt all of the training the Dirty Ospreys did leading up to the Gate River Run really paid off for them on race day.

Everyone did really well,” Torres said. “Some people did a lot better than expected, and some people were probably surprised and happy to finish it.”

Ellison, who had set a couple of different personal goals for himself, was one of those runners who was happy with his performance in the race, he said. He had set a goal to finish the race in one hour and 30 minutes. Ellison almost matched his goal exactly when he finished the 15k race in one hour, 30 minutes and 20 seconds.

“I think I did pretty well,” Ellison said, who plans on running in the Gate River Run again next year. “I finished in the time frame I wanted. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the Dirty Ospreys. I think it was really good experience overall.

As for life after the Gate River Run, a group of the Dirty Ospreys still meets twice a week to get some running into their schedules. It’s a smaller group than before, but anyone can join and run with them. They meet at 1:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 To find out more information on how to meet with the group, go to the Dottie Dorion Fitness Center on campus.