Voices of the Bay

Inspiring Runners To Go the Distance

The Mt. Hope track coach and Endurance Project founder Dennis Welch shares his love of running


Dennis Welch loves running. The Portsmouth resident wants to share his passion with the East Bay community and is forming an all ages running club. A year ago Dennis became Head Coach of Bristol Warren Regional School District’s Mt. Hope High School track and cross country teams. He is building a strong foundation to grow the program and is already seeing positive results. The Huskies Cross country team had its best season of 8-2 this past fall and for the first time beat longtime rival Portsmouth High School.

Dennis grew up on a farm in rural Oklahoma and attended Missouri Southern State University on a track scholarship before spending four years in the Navy on the USS Saipan. A Technical Sales Engineer at KVH in Middletown, Dennis and his wife Crystle are parents to seven-month-old Lillie. He regularly competes in endurance events from 5Ks to marathons to obstacle course racing. As coach and founder of the Endurance Project, he does online coaching and consulting with athletes from around the country. To learn more about the East Bay all ages running club, contact Dennis at 401-603-9741 or dwenduranceproject@gmail.com.

I have always enjoyed coaching. In high school our track coach was our football coach and really didn’t know anything about distance running. I’d always been into it so I pretty much coached the distance team. I would read articles and cut out the work outs.

When I was living in Virginia I started coaching a lot of adults getting into running or wanting to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’ve always dreamed of coaching high school and got pretty lucky when I heard about the opening at Mt. Hope High School. Whether you coach high school students or adults, you have to have a passion for it. I’m not too much older than the kids, so I can still relate to them. Work has to be done, but still has to be fun. You can’t run them to death. If you can establish their trust, get them to believe in themselves, the team will build itself and everything else falls into place.  I tell the kids “there is nothing special about other schools. You essentially all drink the same water. The only difference is you have to believe in yourself. “

People think they can just put on a pair of sneakers and go run. Running is much more than that. When you run in a group, you pass along and share knowledge. You can be in the best shape of your life but your race can essentially be ruined by forgetting to hydrate, from not wearing the correct socks or shoes, or not pacing properly. In endurance training and racing, it’s about 20% physical and 80% mental. Sure you have to be well trained but there is just so much more to it. Running is one of the few physical sports you can do for years and enjoy as a lifetime endeavor. That is something I hope to instill within the youth of our community.  

I train for a couple of big races throughout the year and space them out so as to give my body time to recover and rejuvenate. This summer I’m training for November’s World’s Toughest Mudder, an extreme 24-hour obstacle course challenge held in the desert outside of Las Vegas. My team of four members will attempt to run as many five-mile loops as we can over 24 hours. In 2014, as a member of Team Spartan Wolfpack, we won the championship. We each ran 75 miles individually. When not specifically training for my races, I love to take Lillie out. Just the other night I threw her in the running stroller and we ran a 10-mile loop in the neighborhood. She loves it.


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