Essays

Running to Connect

Words By sheila lam

If you meet an avid runner, you know it’s a vital part of their lives. A source of encouragement, it often goes beyond the physical performance. A way to connect with friends and other runners, it can also lead to a better sense of awareness through self-development and as an inner practice. But like so much in life, things are often better shared.

Whether through Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto on a brisk night, up Red Rock Canyon Park in Los Angeles on a sunny afternoon, or along the seafront in Margate on a windy English evening, joining a running crew wherever you are is an enriching way to discover a new place on your travels and connect with a local community. We’ve tapped into a few clubs across the globe that’ll have you eager to lace up.

flight crew run club, vancouver

Flight Crew Run Club, a free social-based health group led by the Vancouver Running Company, takes locals out on the roads and trails. Celebrating the city’s beauty of urban and natural environments, Flight Crew Run Club is rooted in community, inclusivity, and supporting a journey through movement, sweat, and having fun. They place as much importance on post-run gatherings as training to reach personal bests. If youre new to running, they’ve got you covered with a 10-episode video series covering the basics of getting started in road and trail running.

hike clerb, los angeles

Though not strictly a running club, Los Angeles-based Hike Clerb deserves more than an honourable mention – an intersectional women’s outdoors association centring on Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. Created by Evelynn Escobar in 2017, Hike Clerb organizes monthly meet-ups with sponsors like Outdoor Voices, Hoka, Teva, and Moon Juice to empower women of all shapes, sizes, identities, and orientations. Their activities go beyond the trail to include surfing, kayaking, birdwatching, and more. A beautiful collection of zest and spirit, Hike Clerb equips its members with educational resources and experience to collectively rejoice in nature.

night terrors run crew, toronto & los angeles

Founded by Aimee Laurel in 2013 as a means to discover Toronto shortly after moving to the city, Night Terrors Run Crew is an excellent reminder that restrictions are simply a matter of perspective. When Laurel began running, she could only do so in the evening after clocking out at her full-time job in music marketing. What started with rallying one friend has since seen over 1,000 members joining weekly runs. And while Laurel relocated to the UK, Night Terrors crew members Bill Chaupiz, Hugo Ramirez, Jerson Saravia, and Lauren Estella stepped up to take the mantle in Toronto and Los Angeles, making sure neither cities miss a step. Beyond communal runs through the cities, Night Terrors Run Crew also race train together for more official events, owning the night and having fun along the way.

outlier run club, glasgow

Up early in Glasgow, Outlier Run Club meets at the eponymous Outlier eatery every Saturday morning. A winsome café, bakery, and soon-to-be gallery and wine bar, there are many reasons to convene here. But the young run club launched by Outlier owner Steven Turner has captured the favour of the local community by bringing together a group of over 40 runners regularly from all backgrounds, and building connections to the residents and neighbourhood beyond the pavement.

your friendly runners, london

Further south in the United Kingdom, East Londons Your Friendly Runners is home to the “10Km before 10am” meeting on Saturdays at Lodestar Coffee in Clapton. Billed as the friendliest running community in London, Your Friendly Runners is all about good people and pastries over miles and minutes. With design enthusiasts Oliver Hooson and Matt Horrocks setting the pace and often behind the camera capturing endorphin highs on their community runs, it’s no wonder Your Friendly Runners is equally endorsed by brands such as Hoka, On, and ASICS, among others. Soon youll be able to rep Your Friendly Runners with their new line of running attire.

that running club, margate

Not yet into its adolescence, That Running Club in Margate launched just this past fall. A daring endeavour for anyone familiar with the sometimes temperamental and often gusty weather of this English seaside town. Founded by the creative trio James Goodhead, Joe Khalifa, and Will Pitts – each at the helm of vintage retail company Unified Goods, CAT Footwear, and local favourite Forts Cafe, respectively. Their mission: a weekly run that meets on Thursday evenings at the top of the hill along Cliff Terrace. Of all the locations in this roundup, its difficult to better the views of this sandy beachfront with white chalk cliffs overlooking the water at sunset and Margates signature painterly skies.

In a club, youre often running side-by-side with someone; theres a connectedness in sharing that stride. So whether you run to shape your discipline, for its physical advantages, to see a city in a new way, or to clear your mind, running is itself a benefit. But running with others underscores all of that and more.

Photos by Oliver Hooson for Your Friendly Runners.

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