6 Great Run Clubs

If you ever need a little added motivation, coaching or just want a group to run with. Vermont has you covered. While there are run clubs around the state, these six have been meeting and gathering runners for decades and have continued to do so, even virtually, during Covid-19.  Why join a run club? See our feature, “Social Running.”

Central Vermont Runners – Montpelier

“This has been a dedicated group with excellent volunteers that have kept it going,” says Andy Shuford, a club member and president emeritus. “We’ve had great continuity and kept this club active from generation to generation.” Part of passing the sport onto the next generation is the club’s support of local youth running programs including Girls On The Run and high school and middle school track and field programs.   Founded in: 1980 Membership: 200 Superstars: Adamant resident Donna Smyers continues to dominate age as a triathlete and runner. Bob Murphy, 80, one of the club’s founders, won his share of races in the 1980s. He continues to show up to run. Weekly runs: Starting in the spring and running until October, CVR usually hosts a long-standing “fun run” on the Montpelier Bike Path along the Winooski River. All the runs are out-and-back and distances include two, four, and six miles. On Wednesday nights, members used to meet on the Montpelier High School track. On Saturday mornings, groups departedd at 9:30 from a member’s home for distance runs stretching from six to 14 miles.  Signature events: The Central Vermont Runners has organized a 16-race series. Popular races include the Mutt Strutt, a three-mile fun run for pups and their owners in Little River State Park; runs in Groton State Forest  and the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon. Club members accumulate points for an overall champion determined at the end of the year.  Why join? “This is an active club that’s great for running and for socializing,” says Shuford. “We’re also focused on helping the community as well.” What’s changed since Covid-19?  As of mid-May, the club had canceled all meetings and  group runs.  Races through June have been postponed or canceled but the club will reevaluate plans for July and after. Since the club can’t get together for runs and races, it has established a virtual run series on the club’s website, where anyone can run on the weekend and post photos and their time and distance. 
Website/email: https://cvrunners.org/ 

The Adamant half marathon is one of the races that Central Vermont Runners puts on.
Green Mountain Athletic Association – Burlington

Based in Burlington, one of the oldest running clubs in the state attracts runners from Chittenden County and beyond. Founded in: 1970 Membership: 500 Superstars: Huntington resident Kasie Enman was an All-American while competing in track and field for Middlebury College and won the 2006 U.S. snowshoe racing championships. In 2011 she won the individual title at the World Mountain Running Championships. She tied for second in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra category in 2014. Another member, Teage O’Connor set a world record for the fastest barefoot 100K in 2017, completing the 62-miles in seven hours and 13 minutes.  He’s also known for training and running barefoot.   Weekly runs: The club has historically gathered at the UVM track every evening at 5:30 p.m. for track workouts. Groups also met for long runs on the recreation paths and sidewalks every Sunday morning starting at 8 a.m. at The EDGE in South Burlington.  Signature events: The GMAA organizes a full calendar of 13 races from February through November. Some of the biggest and most popular runs have included the Clarence DeMar 5K, a flat and fast out-and-back in South Hero usually held on the Fourth of July. The Green Mountain Marathon is slated to hold its 50th running October 18, in South Hero .  Why join? Says Alex McHenry, the GMAA’s communications director, “We encourage each other, and we’re all at different levels. If positive energy is what you look for, this club’s for you.” What’s changed since Covid-19? The club has moved many of its upcoming races and events into a virtual format, tracked by the Strava app. The club also started an online GMAA apparel store with 200 percent of proceeds going to the Vermont Foodbank.  Website/email: https://gmaa.run/

Marble Valley Runners – Rutland

If you love dirt trails join this central Vermont group for runs on the Pine Hill network close to downtown Rutland. Often, runs were done after work by headlamp, with snacks and beer after.  Founded in: 2005 Membership: 30 Superstars: Group runners regularly have a strong showing in a series of six 5K races organized by the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department . “I try to win all of those,” says group admin Joel Flewelling. Weekly runs: On Tuesday evenings at 6:30, the group typically took to the trails at Pine Hill Park, a sprawling network of 16 miles of singletrack trails spread across 325 acres a short distance from downtown Rutland. In the winter, runs transition to the streets around Rutland. After the run, the group headed to Strangefellows Pub for beers and dinner in running shoes. On 9 a.m. on Saturdays, the group took to the trails again for longer distances, between 5K and 10K. Signature events: The club organizes a New Year’s Day fun run. Why join? “Come out and try it, everyone is welcome,” says Flewelling. “It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you think you are, everyone is welcome. Having that group that you see every week is a great sense of community.” What’s changed since Covid-19? Right now the club has suspended all group activities and is waiting for further guidance for when it’s safe to resume running together.  Website/email: Official group Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/87713820578/

Northern Border Running Club – Newport and the Northeast Kingdom

While Vermont native Mike Nolan was living in Boston, he fell in love with the road racing community. He returned to the Northeast Kingdom five years ago. “When I moved back, I noticed there was a lot of mountain biking and cross-country skiing, but a gap for running.” he says. He connected with another local, Paul Chambers, to train for races and the two, along with their wives, starting a running club.  “The four of us created the Northern Border Running Club with the mission of encouraging active and healthy lifestyles in the area and building a community that brought people together for running, walking or other healthy activity.”  Founded in: 2017 Membership: 246 Superstars: Derby resident Aleksei Bingham graduated from North Country Union as the indoor track and field state record holder in the 1,500-meter run. He won three state championships (1,500 and 3,000 indoors, 3,000 outdoors). As a senior, he ran the fastest time in the state in the 3,000 outdoors and was the ninth-fastest miler at the indoor New England High School Championships. He currently attends St. Lawrence University. Weekly runs: Weekly runs typically start after Memorial Day and go from June to late September. Runs alternate between the track at the North Country Union High School or at the Memphremagog Ski Touring Trails in Derby. Distances are determined by individual walkers or runners and can range from three to five miles. Signature events: The Bike Path Throwdown is an annual 10K on the Newport/Derby bike path in the fall. Organizers affectionately call it, “the flattest and fastest 10K in the state.” The club also ran a summertime track and field camp last summer with the Newport Parks and Rec department and saw 20 kids sign up. Why join? “There’s only so much that’s happening from an events standpoint in the Northeast Kingdom,’ says Nolan. “But if you start to make the radius 40 to 50 miles, there’s quite a bit that’s happening. The running club helps connect people with these events and with each other.” What’s changed since Covid-19? During Covid-19, the club hosted a virtual run/walk challenge for April. The challenge included having to complete the following: run/walk 1 mile, run/walk 5k, run/walk 5 miles and a one-mile “family walk” during the month, which a number of community members participated in and completed to earn NBRC water bottles and stickers.  For now, NBRC plans to be cautious with any type of group runs and will continue to follow social distancing best practices until after Memorial Day (at least). Website/email: https://northernborderrc.wixsite.com/nbrc

Upper Valley Running Club – Lebanon, NH; Hanover, NH; Thetford, VT; Norwich, VT

Based out of the Lebanon Recreation Department, this running club drew runners from Vermont and New Hampshire to weekly runs. The group welcomes competitive and recreational runners to their road runs.  Founded: 2011 Membership: 300 Superstars: Locals Ben and Sarah True are two top-performing club members. Sarah represented the United States in triathlon in 2012, finishing in fourth place, and at the 2016 Summer Olympics while Ben is a track and field and cross-country athlete who has won two IAAF Cross Country championships and won numerous road races including the 10K and 5K road race championships.   Weekly runs: The club typically held Tuesday Night Track, or as they call it, “TNT,” at 5:30 p.m. the Hanover High School track or at Dartmouth College’s Memorial Field track complex. In the winter, the workouts transition to laps around Occom Pond near Hannover or hill repeats on Tuck Drive. The club has become involved in the nationally popular Couch to 5K program and has started their own group that meets on Tuesdays. Saturday group runs started in downtown Lebanon at Omer and Bob’s at 9 a.m. and ranged from five to ten miles. Pastries and coffee follow at Lucky’s Garage Cafe. Signature events: The Upper Valley Running Club participates annually in the New Hampshire Grand Prix, competing alongside eight other clubs. The Grand Prix is a series of eight races that starts in March and runs through October. The Upper Valley Running Club won the series in 2015 and 2016. The group also organizes and coordinates six to eight races in the Upper Valley Running Series ranging from 5K to 12K. Why join: Group organizer Jim Burnett says the group has been a great resource for those looking to start running or just entering the Upper Valley community. “We’re all inclusive,” he says. “We’re kindred spirits who love to run. You don’t have to be a super speedy runner to have a good time.” What’s changed since Covid-19? UVRC had canceled (or in some cases postponed) all in-person UVRC events and activities, including those in association with the Lebanon Parks and Recreation Department, through April 30th. However its Facebook page posts weekly challenges and virtual races, including a virtual challenge of Hanover’s Main Street Mile race. Website/email: http://uppervalleyrunningclub.org/

Arrowhead Trail Running Series – Milton

While not a running club per se – this weekly race series in Milton has been a welcoming outlet for novice and experienced local runners. The races had weekly prizes, including a chance to win shoes from Hoka One One.  Founded in: 2011 Membership: 60 to 75 people per race Superstars: The race series regularly featured local high school runners who will gladly push the pace for you. The current 5K course record is under 18 minutes. Weekly runs: The weekly 5K races have been held on Mondays at the Arrowhead Golf Course in Milton. The starting gun going off at 6 p.m. sharp. Signature events: The race organizers also sponsor the Milton Freedom 5K, which serves as a scholarship fundraiser for Milton High School track and field and crosscountry athletes.  Why join? It’s the only place you can go on a Monday night and have people cheering for you,” says Brett Macy, one of the series organizers. “There have been  a bunch of people at the finishl line cheering. It’s a special group of people. That’s a huge draw for people, they want to have the community around.” What’s changed since Covid-19? During the COVID-19 period of lockdown, the club has seen a decline in its Monday evening runs, but still plans to start races after Memorial Day, pending approval from Governor Scott. Website/email: Official group Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/258781770802009/

Have a great club we should know about? Vermont Sports is starting a Run Club Directory. Email us your information at editor@vtsports.com

Evan Johnson

Evan Johnson is the staff writer for Vermont Sports Magazine. The native Vermonter enjoys steep and deep skiing and wandering all over the state by Subaru. Find him on Twitter at @evanisathome.

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