About Our Youth Team

Based in Durango, CO, we meet year-round and pursue everything that competitive running has to offer. Since we have the advantage of being with our athletes for most of the year, we can offer training programs that school sports simply cannot (ex.: a 12 week long cross country season can’t possibly offer them 10 weeks of training before racing begins, but it’s this “base” that produces real, lasting results and combats the most common problem of youth athletics: the competitions become more important the the training).
Founding principles: 
-An aerobic base and the ability to metabolize fat will benefit every athlete.
-There are certain movement patterns that should be required for every child to learn, regardless of what sport they enjoy most when they are 10, that will serve them for the rest of their lives (ex.: hip hinging, running form). Any sport can benefit from a rock solid aerobic base, but the goal isn’t to create 8 year old runners. We’re developing young athletes. Through instruction on general movement patterns, we strive to set the stage for confidence and competence in whatever sport they might pursue for the rest of their lives, whether it be distance running or Olympic weightlifting.*
-Learning is fun and should be a goal of every practice. Just as a good coach will have a specific reason for each workout, there are certain physiological concepts that can be learned from each workout. “Do you feel that? That’s hydrogen ions stopping your nerves/wires from talking to your muscles.” “It’s awkward to do this movement today, but by the end of the season it will be as natural as writing. Do you remember learning how to write? You were slow and focused and still not very good. Now that your neural patterns have been worked out so many times, you can write full sentences without even thinking.”
Anthony Kunkel has been certified by NASM as a Performance Enhancement Specialist, been through coaching certifications through the Road Running Club of America, is a personal trainer (NPTI), and a Level II running coach through the Lydiard Foundation. He has extensive experience producing healthy, happy, and fast, youth runners in Golden, CO, before moving to Durango. His holistic approach, refined from his own experience training for the national ultra running circuit, includes everything from keeping a log of workouts and mental states to getting enough sun exposure to optimize hormone health. He is currently finishing his degree in Exercise Science at Ft. Lewis.
Our long term goals/plans:
-supporting Durango’s youth with a team of 25-35 runners year-round
-directing a local race or two with the intent to spark even more interest in youth fitness in the Southwest
-becoming the off-season home for Southwestern CO’s athletic youth -not just runners (5-18 years old), where they can develop more than just a fast mile time.
-supporting an elite team of 5-7 runners here in Durango (see our elite team page), who can also act as mentors to our youth athletes
-leveraging sponsor support of our elite team to offer our youth team a program worth more than they paid for it (ex.: $101 worth of nutrition, shoes, clothing, or racing per month while paying $100/month, making your coaching and support group effectively free)
-hosting 1-2 coaching certifications per year for the benefit of our elite team and coaches, as well as the local area
-over time, create a ripple effect in the area, where the level of fitness in our youth skyrockets and is felt in every sport at the Middle and High School level and hopefully even beyond that*Of course as they mature and master the basics, if they choose to become runners, we will cultivate that and help with long-term goal setting.

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