Running to Moninda Marube and Dan Campbell is more than a sport. It’s more than a race, and it’s not just a lifestyle or a way to stay fit.

To the Auburn roommates, it’s a way to change a person’s life.

“My legs have brought me to where I am right now,” Marube, 34, a native of Kenya and elite runner, said the day after winning yet another road race in Bridgton.

The two friends met through running. Marube had been living in Texas and was “basically homeless,” Campbell said. Campbell was, and still is, the chief of course and technical delegate for the Santa Barbara Marathon in California. Marube ran the race and won, setting the course record. After Campbell learned of Marube’s living situation, he offered Marube a home in Maine.

“He’s not only my coach, he’s my dad and my mentor.” Marube said about Campbell. “Since I have met him, my life has changed.”

Both men have had a lifelong commitment to helping children; Campbell was a long time guidance counselor and coach at Edward Little High School and Marube is an ambassador for Vitamin Angels, an organization that helps malnourished children and pregnant women gain access to vitamins around the world.

Also, kids gravitate towards Marube.

“When they see you run a marathon and win, they always have lot of questions for you,” Marube said.

The two came up with the idea to start a summer running club out of the new Auburn Police Athletic League Center on Chestnut Street in Auburn.

“I grew up in that area. I was always in trouble because I had nothing else to do,” Campbell said. “It was the PAL baseball league that saved me. I had a lot of positive coaches. I had a lot of good people and role models.”

The clubhouse was a natural place to locate the club. Marube has been an after-school volunteer there and Campbell wanted to give back to the same community where he grew up and to the program that helped him as a child.

“We wanted to give the kids an outlet. We’re trying to also give the kids a place to come to,” Campbell said.

“I’m trying to teach children that they have to keep busy so that they are not easily ensnared by crime or drugs,” Marube said.

This is the first inner-city running club of its kind in the past 35 years.

The two, along with the EL cross country team, will be teaching Auburn kids of all ages the fundamentals of running, stretching and doing skill building in the form of playing capture the flag and obstacle courses. They will also be teach them nutrition and how to mentally prepare for a race.

They will be keeping them active all summer long and will end with the club — to be named by the kids after their first meeting tonight — running en mass the Lake Auburn 5k in September.

“We will all run together in our shirts as a club,” Campbell said.

The men say the response has been overwhelming. Lamey Wellehan donated more than 100 pairs of running shoes to the children and employee Ben Fletcher donated his time to ensure a proper fit. The schools have given positive feedback and the Auburn Police Department will have an officer at most of the biweekly club meetings, running with the kids.

“I am so humbled from the support I have been getting, especially from some of the parents,” Marube said.

They hope to give the kids the same love of running that they both have.

“My goal is to leave a legacy to the other generation,” Marube said. “Running, its a sport I have always loved, but I can say it has made me who I am now. It’s through running that I have been able to visit other countries. It’s through running that I got involved in this community.”

When Marube was 15 years old, his grandfather told him that out of his grandchildren, and he had more than 100, Marube could be the one who will probably make his name known to the world. He has never forgotten the blessing his grandfather gave him.

For Campbell, the club will be a way for him to give back to the running community.

“I can never repay the running community for what it has given to me,” Campbell said. “What I can give back is the love of the sport. Running as a kid was a metaphor for me. I was always running away from something or running to something. It was a hard time. My escape was running. And I realized what running meant to me and I want to give that back. That’s how I look at this program. I want them to know that somebody cares for them.”

The “club of a name yet to be determined” will have their first meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 24 Chestnut St. in Auburn. The club will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday through Sept. 8. It is free and open to children in grades four through 12 in Auburn only. For more information, contact Dan Campbell at [email protected]

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