Wondering why every loyal Run Club member you know can’t seem to get enough of their 6 AM social sweat sessions? Here’s what all the fuss is about.
As a certified non-runner, a running club had never been on my radar, but much like anyone else who participates in the Instagram and/or TikTok doom scroll, it’s been hard to miss the #RunClub content dominating the algorithm.
And while in the past running groups might have been a place purely for marathon runners, it looks like the 2024 version is far more inclusive– even to total newbies.
These social-media-savvy groups have been on the promise of new friends, post-run coffee dates and even, in the case of Sydney’s Croissant Run Club, some freshly baked patisserie.
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Tara Meakin and Hannah Gandevia co-founded the Coogee Run Club in 2022, in the hopes that they could get out into their local community, find some running mates and enjoy the stunning coastline on offer in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs.
“I very much thought it would just be 10 people running twice a week in Coogee, and now we’ve got people running sometimes five times a week together,” says Meakin.
Nearly two years on, the Coogee Run Club WhatsApp group has over a thousand members, and from the get-go, they built social activities into the fabric of their group.
“We wanted to create that community. And that yes, it does happen while you’re running… But it’s the afterwards stuff that really connects people and honestly fills their cup,” says Meakin.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is the friendships that have been made from it. It’s not just people who run together, it is the most incredible groups of friends that I know will be friends for the rest of their lives – it honestly chokes me up.”
With running still on a post-COVID high, it’s no surprise that running clubs are having their moment in the sun – particularly with trending videos on their side.
Coogee Run Club had their biggest run ever this January, with 255 members pounding the pavement, and they’re one of many across Australia. Another Sydney-based group, the Unofficial Run Club claims they had as many as 1100 runners join them for a Friday morning run in late January.
“You went through the whole period [of COVID-19 lockdowns], then life got back to normal. And maybe that normal wasn’t enough for people. I think now, you know, we want better, more things than we did in our pre-Covid lives… we want to find our tribe,” says Meakin.
“A friend was talking to me the other day… the reason running clubs are so big at the moment is that people are lonely. And yeah, kind of hits the nail on the head.”
Much like everything in 2024, social media is the key to connecting people to their local running group. Kyra Brown founded the SSS Run Club in October 2023, and she’s seen the women-only group reach over 300 members on WhatsApp in just a matter of months.
“It’s a huge testament to the power of social media – we wouldn’t be here without it,” she says. “We didn’t start with the intention of creating what we have today – which makes every second of this run club even more amazing.”
As a self-described ‘rookie runner’, it was important to Brown to create a space where anyone felt welcome to participate.
“There is an expectation that you need to run fast to claim that you’re a runner… but seeing some of the beautiful run club communities being built at the moment, like ours, that welcome the average newbies with open arms is a really reassuring thing.”
And, like Meakin and Gandevia, she thinks the new-and-improved social side to running clubs is what draws in the crowds.
“I had one girl tell me recently that every time she comes for a run she talks to someone new, which she loves,” says Brown.
“Other girls have formed some really lovely friendships which they were searching for after just moving to Sydney.”
With running clubs filling up my feed, it was only a matter of time before I laced up my sneakers and decided to give the group run a go. And while I went into it a little bit sceptical (not to mention nervous!), the group was exactly as promised– a group of people keen to run with someone else, and maybe meet someone new over an over-priced iced latte.