Whether you’re the type of runner who likes to track every kilometre and calorie burned or the type who syncs your vacation days to your race calendar, you can benefit from joining a run crew. Not only will you have the opportunity to combine fun and fitness, you’ll get massive amounts of insider knowledge about upcoming races, tempo runs and the latest run watch. Plus, you’ll actually truly connect with other live people who like to run.
There are run crews, clubs and groups all over Canada (way too many to include in one post), and the list below includes a few of our favourites that you can join from east coast to west coast:
1. Run Nova Scotia: Halifax, NS
For 34 years, Run Nova Scotia has weathered running boom after running boom, and has promoted health and fitness through road running. Community is a big factor with this east coast club – members can expect a shared passion and knowledge via seminars, clinics and events and a group that will fit their run status, regardless of age or ability (runners range in age from 10 to 80).
Club perks: Race registration discounts and draw prizes
Coming up: Eastern Lobster Run (May 7), complete with seafood chowder at the finish line, and the Penguin Run (June 3)
2. Chèvres de Montagne, QC
Les Chèvres de Montagne is an organization that allows women to get together in nature and be active. Just two years old, they offer seasonal events and clubs that provide a safe, welcoming and fun atmosphere while providing professional and technical advice. Their namesake trail running club launches in June 2017 and is for all types and levels of runners. The emphasis is a fun weekly gathering over a performance-based atmosphere.
Club motto: Be active to surpass oneself, while having fun
Favourite route: Over 8 places are visited per season, each with their own charms
Post-run ritual: A beer, to keep fun at the centre of the club
3. Cours ta réussite, QC
Founded 6 years ago by three med students who met at Laval University, Cours ta Réussite is based on the Students Run LA project, and operates with the intention of helping a group of people who are very often forgotten when it comes to school perseverance: adult students and new immigrants. All are welcome to join, regardless of experience. “As long as the person comes with a smile!” echoes club president Maxime Bérubé. “We get to see refugees from all over the world and Quebecers all having a good time together. It’s truly heartwarming.”
Club motto: Scholar perseverance, one kilometre at a time
Favourite route: Old Quebec streets, the Plains of Abraham and Saint-Charles River Linear Park
Post-run ritual: Some resistance training and a hangout
Favourite MEC run gear: A good pair of running shoes
4. Barrie Baydogs: Barrie, ON
Founded in 2010, the Barrie Baydogs Triathlon Club is an age 16+ community group of everyday athletes who train and socialize together. Now with over 130 members, the club meets weekly for instructor-led workouts, including stairs, hills, speed work, time trials and endurance training. The club’s mission is to develop a community of multi-sport athletes from recreational to elite and become Canada’s premier triathlon club.
Club motto: “Push on. Finish strong.”
Favourite route: Kempenfelt Bay for beautiful freshwater swimming
Post-run ritual: Monthly social gatherings with friends and family
5. Run Dufferin: Orangeville, ON
What started 7 years ago as a team of 12 marathon runners to act as escorts to the Olympic torch bearer has morphed into an all-levels non-profit dedicated to supporting and promoting health, fitness and community. Run Dufferin founding members Margery Cruise and Bob Collin take runners around Island Lake and the Dufferin Hi-Land section of the Bruce Trail.
Upcoming events: Chase the Tornado (May 21), which follows the path a tornado once took through the Grand Valley, and the Island Lake Classic on Labour Day Monday (September 4)
Post-run ritual: Beer or wine and a swim
Favourite MEC run gear: Run apparel from MPG
6. Girls Run Sudbury: Sudbury, ON
Three years ago, Chantal Dogastino founded Girls Run Sudbury, known for its supportive environment to empower women and girls of all ages to get active in an non-competitive environment. The Fitspirit program (for girls in grade 7–12), where runners can train for 8–10 weeks, is a favourite among attendees. Last year 1000 women turned out on a rainy day to celebrate their accomplishments. “Running doesn’t have to be hard,” says Chantal. “It is simply putting one foot in front of the other and repeating until you cross the finish line.”
Club motto: “Run with us!”
Post-run ritual: A gentle yoga session to aid in recovery
Favourite route: The runs often loop through a 1km stretch of peaceful off-road trail
7. Runners With Attitude: Sherwood Park, AB
Want to join a pack of pace chasers who will show up, no matter the weather? Meet Runners With Attitude, a true group of 365ers. Club leaders Lynne and Rob have developed an established trail running program that sets up members for success during challenging races like the Northern Alberta 5 Peaks Trail Running Series. It’s not all intensity and training though, the vibe is decidedly supportive – aka your extended running family.
Club motto: “Nobody runs alone”
Post-run ritual: The club’s famous potluck takes place after weekend runs
Favourite route: Hilly trail runs around Edmonton’s River Valley
8. Sole Girls: Canada-wide
Four years ago, Ashley Wiles saw the need to connect girls aged 8–12 with a safe space for positive mental health. Today, her club Sole Girls uses physical activity as a tool to build confidence and establish mentorship with older women who want to empower the next generation. “Every girl is unique,” says Ashley. “Seeing that self confidence build, and then seeing them creating a ripple effect to get others involved is so special.”
Club motto: “Release your inner awesome!”
Post-run ritual: A reflection session during a group stretch-and-cheer session
Favourite MEC run gear: Wrightsocks in hot pink
9. Fraser Street Run Club: Vancouver, BC
Fraser Street Run Club’s four co-founders (Jesse, Michelle, Kat and Cody) founded their club kind of by accident. They were regularly meeting up for trail and road runs and started calling themselves Fraser Street Run Club and documenting the highlights on Instagram. “People started asking how to join,” says Cody. “So we organized a group run, over 20 people showed up, so we just kept doing it.” Four years later the club is known for its strong community, field trips and races. Total newbie or run nut, all are welcome, and no one is left behind on the Feel Good Friday runs.
Club motto: “I had no choice”
Favourite route: Cruising through quarry garden at Queen Elizabeth Park
Post-run ritual: Beer and potato chips at the clubhouse, or tacos nearby, plus weekend brunch after long trail runs
10. MEC run crews: Canada-wide
Don’t see your city on the list of run crews above? The MEC run crew is a nation-wide pack of everyday athletes with local chapters from Victoria to Halifax. Our mission is to enable runners of all ages and abilities to get outside and get running, and inspire them to chase a PR, try a new trail route, or tackle a race, be it 5K or 50K.
Favourite route: Check out your local chapter to find out where they’re heading
Post-run ritual: We’re big on bagels