Run Clubs Are So Hot Right Now, But Why?

It was a gorgeous morning at Bondi Beach. My mate and I had decided to get up for an early trot and swim, followed by a coffee catch-up before we hit the office. As the sun was beginning to rise and we started to find our stride, what looked like an army of influencers began to chase us down the promenade. The 200-person brigade swiftly passed by, marching with determination towards the south. Their destination seemed clear: to invade the fertile yet slightly less attractive lands of Bronte.

I soon discovered that this community of fitness fanatics were the Rise and Run Club. They gather early at the iconic outdoor gym in North Bondi, fully embracing the “Win the morning, win the day” motto. But it turns out they’re not alone. If you happen to be up before 7 am anywhere in Australia or the world for that matter, you’ll realise it’s not just the coastal crew jumping on the run club bandwagon. From the city to the sea, these jog squads are popping up everywhere, taking over the streets in the pursuit of fitness, community, and maybe even a bit of romance.

Among the myriad groups, it’s the Unofficial Run Club (URC)that’s made a name for themselves in the past six months. Just recently, they reached a major milestone, with over 1000 participants gathering under the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a sweat session. It really made me wonder: why are run clubs exploding across the country? I reached out to URC for answers.

According to Chad Cohen, founder of the Unofficial Run Club, “There is this inevitable feeling of connection when you are able to do something that can be so challenging for some people as a cohort and unit.”

The answer, it seems is good old-fashioned human camaraderie. Yes, it still apparently still exists.

The URC, like many other run clubs, started as a small group of colleagues with a shared passion for running and morning coffee. But what began as a casual weekly meetup has evolved into a thriving community of like-minded individuals.

“We started the run club to give people an opportunity to connect through movement,” explains Cohen. “It started as a bunch of friends who enjoyed finishing our week with a run and pastry and this slowly but surely exploded into an amazing community who show up each week to connect and do something special.”

While run clubs have always existed, the rise of social media has undoubtedly played a significant role in the booming trend. These platforms provide a virtual hub for clubs to establish their identity, convey their ethos, and streamline operations. But notably, new-generation clubs are all about the content, churning out skits and high-quality reels to promote their community.

Uniquely, the URC has been propelled by the creative minds at Fortem Media, whose involvement has been pivotal to its remarkable growth. Boasting nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram, these run clubs signal the potential for substantial future expansion and even business partnerships.

“We want to release merch, open up in many different countries and cities and expand the incredibly connected community to have more impact on scale,” says Cohen. “I do see a world in which run clubs will connect and collaborate and bring communities together for events. More and more I see the world becoming a collaboration economy.”

While social media might get them interested, run clubs are serving as a refreshing way for people to connect beyond the confines of the internet. Escaping the group chat, they’re hitting the streets together, forging real-life connections and building a small community where people can find a sense of belonging.

“Moving in itself contributes to better mental health and well-being,” says Cohen. “However, it is through the ability to have a conversation with so many different people that furthers this as well.”

He continues: “There are so many people at our run club that the ability to find your little cohort or group within the large group is incredibly easy and we believe that this allows people to “find their tribe”.

And let’s not forget about the potential for romance. With the rise of run clubs, there’s also the possibility of finding love on the trail. Sweat-soaked rigs, shared goals, and post-run endorphins create the perfect recipe for sparks to fly. And If you venture into running-obsessed corners of the internet, or ‘RunTok’ as it’s now called, you’ll see the endless memes of how run clubs are the new dating apps.

Shivé Prima, a reporter for SBS News, recently penned a piece delving into the phenomenon of run club dating. In his report, he engaged with members of the Coogee Run Club to gain firsthand perspectives. Among those he interviewed was a woman who highlighted the benefits of connecting through running as opposed to the treacherous realm of online dating.

“You’re meeting people that have a similar lifestyle to you. It’s kind of easier to find someone more compatible with you rather than trawling through the apps and just having a bunch of bad dates with people that aren’t really suited to you,” she said.

Nedd Brockmann | Image: Gregg Porteous

To sum it all up, running has simply reached new heights of coolness. Whether it has long been deemed hip and I’m just now catching on, the evidence is all around us: from the viral exploits of marathon maverick Nedd Brockman crisscrossing the country to the surge in popularity of activewear fashion becoming a bona fide vibe. It’s abundantly clear that this trend shows no signs of losing momentum any time soon

So, whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a newbie looking to lace up your sneakers for the first time, there’s never been a better time to join the running revolution. Strap on your shoes, grab a friend, and hit the pavement with your local run club. I look forward to seeing your crew overtake me on the footpath.

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Sam Mangioni

Journalist – Entertainment, Culture & Lifestyle

Sam Mangioni

Sam Mangioni is an experienced content producer and the current Entertainment, Culture & Lifestyle Journalist for Man of Many. With an extensive background in digital content production and news, Sam specialises in delivering timely, accurate and witty assessments of current events. Prior to working for Man of Many, Sam spent three years at Southern Cross Austereo where he served as a Content Producer and News Reporter for the flagship Triple M Breakfast Program. The Sydney-based reporter completed a Bachelor of Commerce from Macquarie University Majoring in Marketing in 2014. Sam’s work has also featured in Fight News Australia.

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