Jay Kleinrichert and his family moved to Apopka in the early days of the pandemic not knowing anyone, but as he ran for exercise in his neighborhood, he began to explore on social media to find if there were others who might enjoy getting together to run.
He checked and couldn’t find any run clubs already in Apopka, so he asked the question on social media.
“Half-heartedly, I posted, ‘Is there a run club in Apopka? If not, maybe I’ll start one.’ It was a really good response and a lot of people said, ‘If you do (start a club), I’ll join,’” Kleinrichert said.
Three Odd Guys Brewery in downtown Apopka agreed to allow Kleinrichert and his small band of runners to meet there and, from there, the Apopka Run Club blossomed.
“It blew up,” Kleinrichert said. “We got more than 100 members in the first two months and now, we have almost 525 members in just slightly over a year.”
Kleinrichert and about two dozen of the Apopka Run Club members showed up on New Year’s Day at Wekiwa Springs State Park to run and then cool off by jumping into the springs at the state park as a polar plunge.
The club members used the run and the polar plunge as an opportunity to raise funds for the group’s charities as each participant donated money.
After looking at various organizations, the club decided to donate the money to Matthew’s Hope, an organization based in Winter Garden that helps homeless people get back on their feet, and to Bear Warriors United, a group that seeks to help not only bears but other wildlife as well, and their habitat.
Katrina Shaddix, who operates Bear Warriors United, said that she donated her group’s portion from the run club to Matthew’s Hope.
On New Year’s Day 2021, the group raised $630 for Wekiva Trust, just a couple of months after organization in October 2020.
Members of Apopka Run Club have also held shoe drives and collected socks to help charities.
Kleinrichert said the polar plunge is the Central Florida version of the true polar plunges that occur in the northern U.S. where the water isn’t quite as warm as the 72 degrees of the springs at the state park.
“It’s tongue-in-cheek because it’s not really polar. It had such a great reception last year. I feel like it’s the responsibility of the club to keep it going,” said Kleinrichert, who owns Propagate Social House in downtown Apopka.
Kleinrichert said he hasn’t always been a runner. In fact, he couldn’t understand why they did it.
“I used to hate running. I actually used to make fun of runners and now here I am,” he said.
He tried other types of exercise while living in downtown Orlando.
“I used to do a lot of biking and rollerblading in downtown Orlando and it’s not really a good place to rollerblade or bike because of the traffic and cobblestones and all that, but I wanted to do some sort of cardio so I lightly got into running. I joined a couple of run clubs,” Kleinrichert said.
Then, when he and his family moved to Apopka, the run club was formed.
The full story begins on page 1A of the Friday, January 7, 2022 issue of The Apopka Chief. Subscribe today!
The Apopka Chief and The Planter are weekly community newspapers, independently owned and family operated, that have served the greater Apopka area in Central Florida since 1923 and 1965 respectively.
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