Bluebirds running groups for women and kids take flight on Mercer Island

April 2, 2019 | by Erin Sirianni

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Calling all women runners and kid runners on Mercer Island! Here are two new running groups on Mercer Island that will take your running to another level, even if that just means to have fun and get some outdoor exercise. Learn more about these groups below and about Desiree Ficker Berry (pictured in the pink jacket – second from left – above), an accomplished athlete and a great fitness leader in our community.

Bluebirds women’s running group

Twice a week, the Bluebirds women’s running group gathers at local parks on Mercer Island, led by Desiree Berry, a former professional triathlete and runner (who also just qualified for the US Olympic Trials with a 2:39:17 time at the Cal International Marathon!). The group meets on Mondays and Wednesdays, and workouts consist of either hills, circuit training, interval running, or a fartlek, followed by a cool-down of stretching and a bit of core work. All abilities are welcome, and each runner takes her own pace on nearby park trails and loops. I stopped by a workout this week, and one participant shared that she beat her personal half marathon PR by five minutes at the Mercer Island Half Marathon since working out with the Bluebirds. Learn more on the Bluebirds website.  

Bluebirds Kids

Bluebirds Kids at Luther Burbank Park

In additional to the morning group, Berry will soon start her second session of Bluebirds Kids, a 6-week running program for boys and girls in Kindergarten through 5th grades, which begins on April 17th.  The group will be held every Wednesday from 3 to 4 pm at the Luther Burbank Park Firetruck playground.  The cost is $90 for the spring session, and siblings are $75 each. More details on the Bluebirds Kids website.  

Q&A Interview with Desiree Berry

We reached out to Desiree to learn a little bit more about her running programs and what inspired her to start them on Mercer Island, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a baby on the way! Enjoy our interview below:

Why did you decide to start the Bluebirds running program on Mercer Island?

I moved with my family to Seattle from Austin in November of 2017. That winter I was driving to Seattle to run with a group on Wednesday evenings and it wasn’t working out with my kid’s schedule. I wanted to meet other women runners on the island, create a supportive running environment and help them get motivated to run more. In my opinion running is always more fun with a group, especially when running harder workouts. I started Bluebirds ladies group a year ago in April of 2018 and so far it has been a blast. 

I have always coached kids and love it so much. I love seeing the joy and exhilaration running brings to a child. It was an easy decision to start Bluebirds Kids last fall when my daughter started kindergarten at Northwood and was asking me to form a kids running group.

Do you have to be an experienced runner to participate?  

No, there is something for everyone at our group, even beginner runners. The only requirement is a love for running or a goal to develop one in the future. My hope is that Bluebirds makes running more enjoyable for others. 

Do you have a favorite running route (or running workout) on Mercer Island?  

It is difficult to pick just one because there are so many great ones. Our group does my top three favorite island workouts. 1) Hill repeats running up to the Lid park, next to the beautiful green grass fields of the Lid, 2) Circuits at Island Crest Park interspersed with loops through the park trails, and lastly 3) Intervals on the soft trails of Luther Burbank Park. Also, nothing beats a nice long hilly loop around the perimeter of Mercer Island.

Congratulations on your 1st place women’s masters finish at the Cal International Marathon and your qualification for the 2020 US Olympic Trials! How are you feeling about participating in the upcoming Olympic Trials event in February of 2020?  

Thank you! My husband and I are expecting our third child due in early September. While this will cut back on my training build up for the Trials, I am still looking forward to getting back to running as soon as I am able. I plan to run through my pregnancy as I have with my two other kids and will be training hard through the winter so I can be ready to go in February. I am hoping some Bluebird ladies can make it out to watch, if not I know they will be yelling at their computers!

Good luck, Desiree!  Learn more about the Mercer Island Bluebirds at www.mercerislandbluebirds.com.

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