Mar 24, 2024 - Sports

Chicago running clubs for community rather than speed

Group of runners in orange jerseys posing.

Photo courtesy of Conrad Quitoviera/Family Style RC.

A growing number of running groups in Chicago are focused on building community rather than on personal records and mileage.

Why it matters: Some group founders say they didn't always feel welcome in other running clubs or had to travel too far or to unfamiliar neighborhoods for meetups.

Zoom in: Groups like Viento (Little Village) and Family Style RC (Montrose Beach, Chinatown) are welcoming spaces for Latinos and Asian American and Pacific Islanders, but also for new and slower runners.

  • Four women started Viento in 2012 as a way to reclaim their neighborhood and feel safe on the streets. More than a decade later, the group still attracts regulars and new participants at its Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday runs.
  • Tortugas Run Club founder David Ruiz welcomes all speeds (tortugas means tortoises in Spanish) at the Pilsen meetup, telling the L.A. Times he started the group after training for a half-marathon with another club: "Nobody was as slow as me. So at the end of the day, I was still by myself, running by myself."

What they're saying: "I truly believe we are one of the most diverse and inclusive run communities," says Family Style RC founder Sany Nguyễn, emphasizing that the group isn't just for AAPI runners.

  • "It's not an Asian Pride club, it's a 'celebrating communities and culture through movement' community.'"

The bottom line: There are plenty of running groups out there that could be the right fit for you.

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