HorizonTrack offers holistic support for SFU Track team and new runners

We spoke to co-founder Jose Castro about the group’s goals for local athletes

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Four members of HorizonTrack posing on grey bleachers.
HorizonTrack hosts monthly community runs for runners of all stripes. Krystal Chan / The Peak

By: Luke Faulks, Staff Writer 

How do we get Canadians more invested in track and field? In April of 2021, lifelong runner and SFU track member Jose Castro founded running club, HorizonTrack, with alumni Carlos Vargas. The duo wanted to help SFU track runners get exposure by running on behalf of HorizonTrack during the offseason. This helps them gain practice at a high level outside of SFU.

The club’s first task was to tackle what Castro sees as a recurring issue for Canadian runners: a lack of support, both in terms of finances and year-round camaraderie.

“A lot of runners don’t get advertised even when they are doing well,” said Castro. “After your school season is over, you still run races, but you have to run as unattached [without any affiliation] so you don’t have any team.” 

Castro points to the recent successes of SFU students and alumni at the 2021 Olympic trials. While former SFU student Cameron Proceviat placed second in the 1500m, and current SFU runners Aaron Ahl and Charlie Dannatt placing third and fourth, Castro believes they didn’t get the kind of marketing or media attention they deserved, which could hamper their chances to attend meets in the future. 

HorizonTrack aims to fix the void in athlete marketing for SFU runners by posting photos and workout videos, sharing athletes’ stories, and selling HorizonTrack gear to raise money for the travel costs of student athletes. 

After initially selling Horizon merchandise to friends and families and over social media, HorizonTrack partnered with FitFirst Footwear. Thanks to the store’s proximity to one of SFU’s primary training spots, Burnaby Lake, the store has had a long relationship with the school and has been extremely supportive, revealed Castro. HorizonTrack have their own dedicated booth stocked exclusively with HorizonTrack flags, stickers, and mannequins. Members are even given discounts on some items in store. 

All this isn’t to say that professional athletes are the sole beneficiaries of HorizonTrack. The club hosts a monthly 5km community run, partnered with Fit First footwear and North Burnaby Runners, on the last Wednesday of each month. As is the case for SFU track team, the go-to spot for these runs is Burnaby Lake.

To new runners potentially feeling daunted by running alongside SFU track team members, Castro noted it’s not about competition; everyone is welcome. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re coming from or how you look or who you are. If you want to run, you can run.”

Community runners can even expect some guidance on healthy running habits. “We usually have one or two of our runners leading the warm-up, showing people how to do proper warm-ups.” 

Looking ahead, Castro intends to expand HorizonTrack’s scope. The group will continue elevating runners’ stories through a podcast from SFU track students. “We have all these runners, Canadian runners, who come up and just like talk about their experience, their season, who they are.” 

Highlighting runners’ stories will be a throughline for HorizonTrack. The group is also expecting to launch a website later this year. At horizontrackclub.com, interested parties can sign up for a newsletter, highlighting athletes’ stories and personal bests. The newsletter will also advertise the group’s monthly community runs. 

The next steps for HorizonTrack won’t be easy. The team behind it is still small, but Castro says he enjoys building from the ground up. “That’s the fun part. We honestly love just doing something on the side and creating a community with it.

“When you just step on the track and you really hit your limits, there’s something that’s special in that. Where you know you’ve given it everything. No one can take that away from you. With Horizon, we want to have another outlet where we put in all that we can and showcase who are, as runners and as people.”

HorizonTrack posts about its athletes and merchandise on Instagram, and publishes its podcasts on YouTube and Spotify, and, shortly, Apple Podcasts. Go to horizontrackclub.com to sign up for the HorizonTrack newsletter, and stay tuned for a website update!