Chad Randolph considers his 30th birthday as the day he started running.
"I ran five miles on my 30th birthday and thought I was a golden god," he said.
Now, 14 years later, Randolph is still running and has competed in 21 marathons, five 50Ks (about 31 miles) races and plans to run his first 100K race in Florida next month.
Last spring, Randolph and two friends he runs with, Todd Hartung and Jim Crotts, decided to share their love for running by creating the Davidson Area Running Team.
The group plans team runs, tells local runners about good places to run and alerts runners of races coming up around the area through a blog and Twitter account that Randolph runs.
Randolph said the goal of the group is to connect runners from around the Davidson area.
"If you drive through Davidson, you're going to see half-a-dozen people running," said Randolph.
"We wanted a way to share upcoming races, race results and group runs," said Hartung, 40, who works at Queens University in Charlotte. The group, which has about 40 members according to Randolph, has group runs Monday, Wednesday and Sunday mornings.
The group is based around the blog and e-mail updates Randolph sends out to members. He posts messages about upcoming races as well as any local running news, like the recent opening of a Fleet Feet store in Huntersville. He also posts race reports, either written by himself or another team member who ran the race, to let other runners know how the race went and how local people finished.
Using a blog is new to Randolph. He was chosen to run the blog since he is now retired after 17 years working for Lowe's.
"I have never done a blog before in my life," he said. "I can vent out loud, write down what I'm thinking about."
Joining the teams is easy: just send Randolph an e-mail. Runners of any age, gender and skill level are welcome on the team. The people who run competitively are probably already on larger teams like the Charlotte Running Club. Randolph wants to connect with people who run every day on their own and for their own reasons.
"I'm interested in those people," he said. "What inspires them?"
This year, Randolph hopes to create team T-shirts that runners will have to earn by running a certain race or a certain distance, an idea he got from the Mangum Track Club, which holds a 15-mile shirt run from Mangum, N.C. to Ellerbe, N.C.
Gabrielle Craig, 41, has been working with Randolph to train for a marathon. She had run triathlons before, but now that her three children are in school, she had the time she needed to train.
"He has got such a positive outlook on running," said Craig, who was planning on running a marathon in Richmond last year, but was unable to compete after coming down with plantar fasciitis (irritation and swelling on the bottom of the foot) and strep throat. She's working on finding another marathon to run in the spring.
"He's good at getting out there and keeping you company," she said.
Craig was looking for someone to run her pace, and Randolph offered to run with her.
Randolph tries to group together people that run similar paces and distances so that they can run together.
Randolph said he has seen a definite increase in the number of runners in the area since he came to Davidson seven years ago.
"The Charlotte marathon used to be relatively small and now it has gotten quite a bit larger," he said. "There's truly a running boom going on."
The bad economy and relative inexpensiveness of the sport is what has drawn people to it, said Randolph.
Randolph's wife, Laurie, started running a little over a year ago. His five-year-old son, James, also joins them in the comfort of his running stroller.
Randolph and Hartung hope that the team will continue to increase participation in the sport.
"I hope our club will inspire others to find benefits of running and joy of running," said Hartung. "(I) also hope it will help members reach goals and serve as a helpful running resource."