The Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com talked 110 area residents who had never participated in an organized race before into training together for the Akron Marathon Race Series last year.

We made our invitation on April 1 precisely so those opting in could tell their families they weren’t joking.

Intending to become an April Fool’s Day tradition, the Blue Line Beginners are back.

The community walk/run group will kick off a new training season with a March 31 affair, inviting walkers and runners of all ages and skill levels to join them. (March 31 because, well, April 1 this year also happens to be Easter.)

While the Beacon Journal’s 2017 effort officially concluded with the marathon’s marquee event last September, the group spun off as an independent entity. Members remained active throughout the winter, meeting on Saturdays and participating in various local races each month.

With the first race in the Akron Marathon Race Series — the National Interstate 8k — on the horizon in June, BLB members are eager to share all they’ve learned with a new crop of would-be runners and walkers.

Anyone interested is invited to attend an event at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High St. in downtown Akron, at 11 a.m. Saturday to learn more.

Parking in the library deck is free. Snacks, beverages and beginner training plans will be available.

In addition to hearing from BLBers about their experiences, Akron Marathon Race Director Brian Polen will speak, and Summit County Metro Parks will have a representative on hand to share information about local trails suitable for training.

You don’t have to be an athlete to run or walk a 5K, 8K or even a half marathon. Many of last year’s participants were self-proclaimed couch potatoes, while others were active but without motivation to tackle an organized race.

They ended the season having made new friends while improving their health and earning fun swag and colorful medals for their efforts.

“It’s the most amazing feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line, one that I want all members to experience themselves,” said Jen Kline, chair of the BLB’s new member committee. “Believe in yourself because you can do it. If you’re walking, running or a combination of both, we are here to help and encourage you.”

Visit http://bluelinebeginners.com for more information. Weekly informational blogs will guide new members through every step of the coming racing season.

Registration for the March 31 kickoff is not required, but you can sign up on Facebook by searching “blue line beginners event” to find the event page. Potential new members can also write contact@bluelinebeginners.com.

Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or pschleis@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.