Let’s Run Together

Run clubs are the new book club—they can make a meaningful experience even richer. At REI, we celebrate running and community, from LA to Seattle to NYC.

It’s easy to view running as a solo endeavor. After all, there’s the romantic image of you against you out there—mind trying to tune in to the body, and vice versa. Sometimes you’ll put your headphones on to drown out the sound of your breathing or the whirr of the treadmill; other times you’ll simply turn inward, counting down the seconds until your training is over. On a great day, you’ll get lost in your surroundings: a picaresque rural landscape, lively city streets or cresting waves just beyond a stretch of coastline.

But what about all the other people doing exactly what you’re doing—jogging, surging, struggling and rejoicing on the roads, pavement, trails and track?

This year, we celebrate the run club: that electric assemblage of individuals who decide that no matter the pace, background or inner voice, they’ll run together.

Members of the nonprofit running group BlacklistLA: Erik Valiente (center), Carlos Desroses, Delia Guarneros, Elise Porter, Mario Granadeno, Mathew Godoy, and Vanessa Munoz.

In Los Angeles, we spent time with several dynamic and inclusive clubs including the nonprofit BlacklistLA, whose photos you’ll find throughout this package; in our own stomping grounds, writer and REI member Heather Hansman profiled Club Seattle Runners’ Division co-founder Ashley Davies; and coming off the Berlin Marathon, runner Giovanna Fischer penned a personal essay that highlights her New York City running group of high performing marathoners, Black Roses. More on those stories below.

Ashley Davies Is Creating Space for All Runners

Ashley Davies, co-founder of Club Seattle Runners' Division, stands in front of fence, on a track, cheering on runners. Other runners stand behind her and behind the fence, also cheering.
Photo by David Jaewon Oh

When Ashley Davies, Miran Cash and David Oh saw their original running group shut down, they decided to start their own. But it wasn’t just about them finding another way to run with each other. “We wanted to make a safe space for us to be who we are and create community,” says Davies. “To use something we love as a vehicle to bring awareness.”

Running Is Creative. Running Is Collective.

A woman (author Giovanna Fischer) enthusiastically high fives a runner (her teammate Danielle McNeilly) in the middle of a race.
Photo by John Le Tran

Here we are, riffing on ideas about running zines, how to visually communicate our coaches’ workouts using shapes and the perfect shade of purple. After stewing in self-pity, longing for the schooling I felt cheated out of as a young adult, I return to running. Running is a creative practice. More specifically, in Black Roses, our school of running is contingent on creativity.  

Giovanna Fischer, “Running School”

Coming soon

We partnered with Brooks to profile a handful of LA run clubs that are leaving major marks on their communities, including Boyle Heights Bridge Runners, Movement Runners and Eagle Rock Run Club. Check back here on January 25, when we’ll release the first of the three films.

Members of BlacklistLA get ready to run in East Los Angeles.

Looking for a run club?

Even if you’re not in LA, Seattle or NYC, you can find the right run club for you. Check out our classes and events, join us virtually on Strava or search for a local group on Meetup. We’ve also partnered with Black Girls RUN!, who create safe spaces nationwide for African American women to participate in running.

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