Group Fitness is Fun

5 Run Club Founders On Starting Their Crews and the Gear That Keeps Them Going


March 25, 2019 Sports and Outdoors By

Running alone has its perks — you pick your music, run as fast or as slow as you want and can stop whenever you feel like it. For some, it can also be lonely, which is why running groups exist. Whether formal or informal, run crews can motivate you to practice weekly, help you meet new people and smash your goals. You’ll never have to come up with another workout on your own, and the route is decided for you, saving precious brain space. Running crews are all the rage whether you’re in New York City or Dubai. — according to the 2017 National Runner Survey and Running USA, 6 out of 10 runners are part of a group where 34% of runners are in a local running club and 23% are in a social or informal group, and according to Strava’s Year in Sport from 2018 having a group keeps you more accountable — and likely more active. Athletes who joined a club on Strava uploaded three times more activities than athletes who did not, and when people went out in groups, the activity tended to last up to 10 percent longer and cover 21 percent more distance as compared to single uploaders. To find one near you, ask at your local sporting goods shop.

While all running clubs help build community, each is different in its own right. Each one provides something unique whether it be speedwork, track workouts, self-guided tempo runs or shake out runs. We spoke to five coaches about why they started their crews in Chicago, New York and London and the gear they stand by.

Joe DiNoto, Founder of Orchard Street Runners, New York


Photo: Ashley Gilberston
DiNoto founded Orchard Street Runners back in 2011, and the Tuesday night runs leaving from Manhattan’s Lower East Side have remained effectively the same since he started — fast and gritty. “I started running on my own in 2001 or so. I didn’t run with others until about 2011,” DiNoto says. Now his races, which are in addition to his weekly group runs, sell out quickly and take place in the dark, both in terms of time of day and the fact that they are unsanctioned. “The semi-organized threshold runs through the city at night were missing [from the running scene],” DiNoto says, about why he started OSR. Here’s all the gear he typically wears Tuesday nights at 7 PM.

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbos

This mix between the Pegasus 35 and the Nike Zoom Fly 4% is an excellent training shoe. In fact, world record holder Eliud Kipochoge helped design them as his everyday shoe.

2XU Black 24/7 Compression Socks

The all-black look is a lifestyle for OSR runners. You run through the night, and to make it that much sexier, it’s also standard to wear all black. Safe? Likely, no, but you’ll fit in better if you’re not in neon. And, there’s safety in numbers, right? These compression socks will help keep the blood flowing to your limbs, well after you stop sprinting.

Nike Zonal AeroShield Running Jacket

Combat rain, wind and snow in the Zonal AeroShield. Two long vents along the sides of the jacket keep air flowing even if it gets humid outside.

Oakley Radars

Custom Oakley Radars are an easy way to see during practices where the sun is starting to set. DiNoto just lost his at the last race, but before that, he swore by them.

RYU Vector Short Leggings

These shorts come with a 5-inch outer layer and a 6-inch liner. The zipper pocket hidden in the waistband is handy for your phone, so you can quickly review the route that night.

Tim Rossi, LostBoys Founder, New York


You can catch Rossi and his best friends running together, chasing fast PRs, frequently at races in and around New York City. “Lostboys started in 2014. It was just 3 of us going to races, and we wanted to put a team name down, so we came up with Lostboys.” While the group isn’t super formal, Rossi acknowledges that it fills the gap between people looking to run socially and people looking to achieve speed goals, just not quite at a professional level. “There are not many people focused on the performance side of running,” Rossi says. “There are tons of social running crews, which is amazing because you get healthy and meet new people (and running is fun!). And then there are professional groups. But it felt like there was a void for people trying to get faster and have fun doing it.” The group doesn’t formally ‘meet’ like other run crews. “We are much more focused on the approach to the sport rather than being a formal team,” he says. “It is still truly a group of individuals chasing goals but with a very similar approach and a true love for the sport.” Because they don’t have regular meet-ups, you can’t join them, but you can follow them on social media.

Nike Elite Half-Tights with Aeroblades for Racing

These shorts were created for the elites, but Rossi got his hands on a pair of them. “I got these from eBay, they are the best,” Rossi says.

Nike Vaporfly 4%

The elusive 4% sneakers are hard to find, but claim to improve your performance by 4%. Throughout a long distance race, that can add up quickly. Buy Now: $250[/button]

District Vision Sindo Performance Socks

District Vision designs everything with purpose informed by a vast amount of research, and these socks are no different. They claim to help with running stability as well as quick response times thanks to a compression zone in the ankle. While Rossi prefers the black and yellow, which (you guessed it) are sold out, other colors are available.

Gyakusou Shield Jacket

Gyakusou is the Japanese streetwear-inspired arm of Nike that pumps out interesting running collections. This jacket is just one example of the beautiful pieces, and while it’s currently sold out online, there’s a handful of spring Gyakusou gear on nike.com.

District Vision Keiichi in Black

District Vision makes some of the highest-performing running sunglasses on the market, that also look good for all-day wear.

Jessie Zapotechne, Founder of Girls Run NYC, New York


Zapotechne (known as Zapo to friends and social media) started not one, not two, but three urban running crews. She grew up running: “I loved the feeling of flying that running gave me, and I remember feeling so free,” she says. Like many people, she kept up with it to stay healthy through high school and college. In 2005, she moved to NYC and began running with a variety of groups, like Bridgerunners, OSR, Resident Runners, Rasa Club, We Run Uptown, and more. “There is a lot of overlap within the running community in NYC,” Zapo says. She founded Black Roses, then The Bkfastclub, and four years ago, Zapo recognized the gap between men’s and women’s training clubs and decided to train just women. “The urban running community has been an amazing place to grow up as a runner, and at the same time, it often felt like women’s voices weren’t heard in that space,” Zapo says. “I wanted to continue to get more women to come out.” Girls Run NYC is a space for women to run judgment-free, regardless of their shape or size or ability. “It’s a women’s circle in a lot of ways because women would come consistently and open up to each other about what was going on in their lives. We use Whatsapp as a way to keep a constant dialogue going, and women support each other. It’s more than just running.”

ID Knit Track Jacket

As an Adidas-sponsored runner, you’ll catch Zapo in head to toe three-stripes (mostly). This ID knit jacket is one of her favorites.

Adidas Ultraboost 19

The newest iteration of the Ultraboost sneakers sold out when they first released back in December. Designers of this iconic sneaker took its best parts, broke it down into just 17 pieces and created a better Boost foam, more solid heel clip, torsion piece and a solid upper.

District Vision Nagata Speed Blade

District Vision is a popular pick among the running crews of NYC, and these Nagata’s feature a rounded shape that’s flattering on smaller faces. Plus, they’ll stay in place while you sweat or freeze — depending on the season.

Response Split Shorts

These men’s shorts come with a built-in liner and reflective details. Each pair is made from 100 percent recycled polyester plain weave that helps wick sweat away.

Cory Wharton-Malcom, Founder of TrackMafia, London


TrackMafia meets every Thursday in Paddington in London at 6:30 PM. The team “started nearly six years ago at the Paddington recreation ground in Maida Vale West London,” Warton-Malcom says. Wharton-Malcom and his girlfriend, Julia Good, and Jeggi Elinzano came together to get the group started. He’s quick to say that nothing was missing from the running crew world, his friends just wanted their own thing. “We didn’t start TrackMafia for it to be anything but a group of friends hanging out at pace. You learn a lot about people when you watch how they deal with the pain and suffering that comes with running. The happiness you feel after your workout is genuinely contagious, and I think that’s why people started to come.”

Nike Epic React Flyknit iD

These custom Patta x Track Mafia Epic React sneakers in all-black were created for the runners of the TrackMafia crew. You can design your own with the iD tool on nike.com.

Nike Windrunner Tech Pack

A wind and water-repellent jacket will help you slog through as many miles as necessary in the rain.

Nike Rise 365 Tech Pack

The three-quarter length sleeves on this tech top eliminate the potential for bunching around your wrists, plus make it easy to check how many miles you’ve already logged.

Oakley Frogskins

The Frogskins take the ’80s aesthetic and modernize it for the present day. You can customize your frame and lens color — be sure never to lose them.

Nicolas Bernal, Founder of 3Run2, Chicago


In 2013, Three Run Two, based in Chicago-city, started on the first Thursday of the new year. “My sister and I put an email together to a small list serve of family and friends, we invited everyone out for a run, and the idea was to meet at a bar, run laps of Humboldt Park and reconvene for beer and tacos,” Bernal says. He was surprised that 12 to 15 people showed up. A group formed — it was made up of people who wouldn’t call themselves runners, but who want to do something fun and active. “Since that day we haven’t stopped,” he says. The group quickly outgrew the bar and had to move to a new spot in Logan Square, and they’ve since expanded practices to include Tuesday morning and evening, Thursday evening and Saturday mornings.

Adidas Adizero Boston 7

“I have two shoes to train in and one race in,” Bernal says. “I train in the Nike Pegasus Turbo and the Adidas Boston 7.” The Adidas Adizero is a workhorse shoe and will handle any run you want to do. The durable sneakers lasted at least 500 miles for Bernal thanks to the Continental sticky grip.

District Vision Nako Multisport

These District Vision sunglasses are lightweight, made in Japan and built with D+ lens technology, so they’re shatterproof.

Three Run Two Chicago Long Sleeve

You’ll always catch Bernal in one of the Three Run Two technical shirts. All of them champion the crew, and Chicago runners.

Nike Filament Track Tight

These tights have stood the test of time for Bernal, and he swears by them for the cold windy winters in Chicago.

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