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Posted on Dec 04, 2006

Thinking outside the (shoe) box

After running thousands of miles, Katie Spotz understands the importance of a good pair of training shoes. It's so important that she's started a club on campus that is helping to provide running shoes to athletes around the world.

At CSUMB as part of the National Student Exchange program, Spotz started the One World Running Club early this semester. The club numbers five members - who describe themselves as "casual rather than competitive" runners. Its goal is to collect new and used running shoes for the Colorado-based international non-profit organization One World Running, which promotes an awareness of health, fitness and nutrition.

The organization started in 1986, when a resident of Boulder, Colo., came back from a trip to Cameroon with stories about how the Africans ran barefoot. That inspired a group of runners to collect, wash and send new and "near-new" athletic shoes, T-shirts and

Shoes that are sent to the Boulder, Colo., headquarters of One World Running get sorted before shipment to locations around the world.

shorts to West Africa. The program has now expanded globally.

Spotz, 19, whose home campus is Kent State University in Ohio, was inspired to start a local version of the effort after reading about the organization in Runner's World magazine.

"This project allows anyone to be involved. It's simple enough but has the potential to help out those in need," she said.

"Early on, I learned how important it is to give back and it is something I want to do throughout my life, no matter where I am. This summer, I rode my bike across America to raise funds for the American Lung Association, and as I was readjusting from that life-changing experience, I felt like I had to continue to do more to make a difference."

The club has placed shoe collection boxes around campus (Dining Commons, sports center, University Center and the Student Center) and in the community (Fleet Feet, Big 5, Monterey Peninsula College gym and the YMCA).

"The people in the community we approached were very enthusiastic about the project and glad to take part. Our goal is to collect 100 pairs of shoes by the end of the semester; so far, we've got 70 pairs," she said.

Spotz puts on the miles, in more ways than one.

She ran the Columbus Marathon - her first race at that distance -- last year. Her last competitive event was August, when she won her age group in the Great Buckeye Challenge half Ironman triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run).

After her semester at CSUMB, she's headed to a university in Dresden, Germany, then hopes to find her way to Australia before graduating from Kent State in the spring of 2008 with a degree in nutrition.

"I leave after this semester. It's such a good cause; I hope the club will live on and be a continuous project."