Story Highlights:

  • Seven community running clubs in St. Louis, and when and where they meet.
  • Community running clubs in St. Louis offer an opportunity for every body and every identity.

Running clubs are like running shoes. One size does not fit all. Each has an identity, attitude, and location that could be a good fit if you’re looking for group support to meet your goals. Many include post-run food and drink as the carrot. (Usually much higher in calories but lower in vitamin A). For others, the social component is virtual: posting notices and inspiration on Facebook or sharing photos on Instagram.

There are literally dozens of running clubs in the Greater St. Louis bi-state area, making it impossible to include them all. In this article, we concentrate on those that are purely community-driven and not affiliated with a store, brand, or event. We’ve also included information as of late 2020 on whether the club was running in person, virtually, or was on hiatus because of COVID-19.

Road Warriors
Group runs: Limited to 10 runners (social distancing enforced), various times weekly
Easily spotted in their purple camo jerseys, the group was founded in 2005 by Brian Trout, who talked a coworker at Scott Air Force Base into joining him for his first turkey trot. The Road Warriors have grown to 3,200 and have founded multiple chapters, two overseas.

“We provide a team without borders that provides motivation, encouragement, and inspiration to others wherever we are,” Trout said. “We are a fitness ideal, and that is easily transported anywhere.”

After the initial pandemic shutdown, the Road Warriors started convening in small groups in late summer, primarily in Illinois. They also hosted a 2020 SUCKS run/walk in mid-October for about 30 people in person and others virtually.

We Run the Lou

We Run the Lou

We Run the Lou
Group runs: On hiatus
Running enthusiasts of color founded this group, centered in Forest Park, in 2016. It has grown to 250 members, 40 percent of which are active. Most popular are the club’s signature monthly challenges, such as a battle of the sexes to see who could run the most miles, chronicled on a lively Instagram page. The group hit pause on in-person gatherings during the pandemic, though founder Ashley Henderson said, “We still encourage members to run in a way that best suits their comfort level and keep members encouraged through our monthly run challenges.”

Ladies Run the Lou
Group Runs: 6 a.m. Thursday, Forest Park Visitor Center; weekends and evenings in other locales
Don’t be confused by the name. Originally known as the Ladies Forest Park Run Crew, the group started its Thursday morning run in 2018 but has branched out and plans to introduce trail runs in 2021. Hence, the name change. “We’re trying to hit a few different locations and times so that we can better reach the near 200 members in our Facebook group,” said Emily Fishman. “The social aspect is a bit iffy with the pandemic situation, but many of our evening and weekend runs start near a restaurant.”

St. Louis Frontrunners
Group runs: On hiatus
The Frontrunners belong to a network of non-competitive running and walking clubs across the nation organized “to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ people who have an interest in being healthy and exercising,” said President Mike Walton. Before the pandemic, the group met Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings at the Forest Park Visitor Center. “We tried at one point during summer, but it didn’t seem safe,” Walton said. The team has presented the Pride 5K/10K since 2010. The 2020 event, scheduled in November, went virtual.

Happys Running Club

Happy’s Running Club.

Happy’s Running Club
Group runs: Limited to 25 runners, 6 p.m. Tuesday, City Park Grill
Despite the pandemic, Happy’s has kept intact its streak of almost 400 consecutive Tuesday runs. In the spring, the 200-plus members transitioned to virtual runs, with one volunteer running the official 5k route through the Tower Grove neighborhood. They’ve gathered in groups of 25 at City Park since September but continued the virtual runs as well. “Going well so far,” said Kristen DiFate. “We’re all about community, and we need that community now more than ever, right?”

Arch City Run Club
Group runs: On hiatus in person but active in virtual runs
A dozen founders set up the Facebook page before the 2015 Rock N Roll Half Marathon to post inspirational messages and training tips. Pre-COVID, 20 to 60 of its most loyal followers gathered for a group 5k on the first Monday of every month, starting at the International Tap House in Soulard, to the Arch and back, followed by dinner and drinks. Given its vibrant online community of 1,600, founder Jaime Maher said, “the group drives the content posted, and the group as a whole truly encourages each other to reach their running goals.”

Brunch Run Crew (pictured, top)
Group runs: On hiatus
Call this a movable feast. Before the pandemic, a group of six to 50 would meet every Saturday to run one of six 5k routes, followed by brunch. When it got too cold to run, they gathered for brunch and other workouts. Founder Ryan Smith says the club tried virtual runs and zoom brunches with limited response and hopes to reconvene in the summer.

Author: Kathleen Nelson is a regular contributor to Terrain Magazine.