This Saturday, nearly 2,000 runners will pound the pavement of Central Park while sporting team jerseys.
They’ll be participating in the New York Road Runners Team Championships, an annual 5-mile race for members of several of the city’s running squads.
The race represents just the tip of the iceberg of New York City’s running club scene, which is as diverse as the Big Apple itself.
“There’s really a club for everyone,” said Christine Burke, NYRR’s vice president of runner products and services, which oversees a directory of more than 100 running clubs in the city and metropolitan area that bring together thousands of runners. “If you’re looking to be competitive, there’s a club for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to socialize and meet like-minded people, there’s a club for you as well.”
The city is also home to several “affinity groups,” Burke said, from LGBTQ-friendly clubs to ones catering to women ages 50 and up or African-American women, with new groups added every few months.
“The run club community is really healthy,” Burke, 44, said. “Some of that has followed the growth of the population into new neighborhoods. Clubs have also leveraged social media to communicate and share and encourage people to join.”
The Denmark-based Mikkeller Brewery has an app where you can find chapters of its running club, which is in nearly 200 cities and towns globally.
In NYC, chapters are based out of its new Queens brewery at Citi Field, as well as in Manhattan at the Hell’s Kitchen bar As Is and in Brooklyn at the Gowanus brewery Strong Rope.
Since starting last month, the Queens chapter has gathered groups of up to 15 for runs in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park through the brewery’s social media, as well as Mets games, with fans joining runs after seeing the club at Citi Field.
“I’m a pretty die-hard Mets fan, so I was pretty excited about the opportunity,” said Carlos J. Morales, a New York native and co-captain of the Queens chapter.
Morales and co-captain Amy DiTommaso lead 5-mile runs weekly on Wednesdays and longer runs on the first Saturday of the month, starting and ending — often with a free or discounted pint — at the brewery.
“A lot of our members are people who wanted to be part of a good time,” said Morales, 30. “We get people that are coming out of retirement, so to speak, and also people who want to get into running and haven’t run before but this seems really appealing to them.”
In addition to straightforward runs, clubs might offer coaching or training. Earlier this month, ASICS launched a run club based out of its midtown store that includes a mix of miles and speed and interval work.
“We’re putting people through workouts they’ve never really been through,” said Keith White, 42, the manager at the Fifth Avenue store who oversees the run club.
If you’re looking to join a run club, two key things to keep in mind are the geography — where they meet and train — and what your ultimate goal is — “whether you’re looking to compete and train, or whether you’re looking to purely be social, or whether you’re looking for something in-between,” Burke said.
Join the club
Here’s a sampling of run club offerings in the city:
ASICS Run Club: The brand holds runs and workouts based out of its Fifth Avenue store in midtown, with varying routes throughout Manhattan and Queens, on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Free to join; Eventbrite.com
Black Girls Run: Founded to fight the obesity epidemic in the African-American community, this national club holds runs in all five boroughs. Free to join; blackgirlsrun.com
Central Park Track Club: This competitive club for serious runners offers coached workouts several times a week in Central Park and elsewhere. $160/annual dues; centralparktc.org
Chelsea Piers Fitness: The open-level run, covering at least a 5K, is held Saturday mornings from its Boerum Hill location. Free to join; Eventbrite.com
Gotham City Runners: “Train like the pros” with this competitive club, which provides group coaching and customized running plans and holds workouts Tuesdays and Thursdays in Central Park. $75/annual dues; gothamcityrunners.com
Front Runners New York: This LGBTQ-friendly club holds fun runs on Tuesday evenings in Prospect Park and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Central Park, as well as coached workouts. $30-$50/annual dues; frny.org
Mercury Masters: This club caters to women ages 50 and up who are members of New York Road Runners, with a group run held Thursdays in Central Park. Mercurymasters.org
Mikkeller Running Club: Find runs in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, which usually end with a beer, through the brewery’s run clubs. Free to join; mikkellerrunningclub.dk
Queens Distance Runners: The club is focused on building a running community and creating race events in Queens, and hosts social runs and training routes throughout the borough. Free to join; qdrunners.org
Van Cortlandt Track Club: The Bronx club caters to both recreational and competitive runners, with workouts Tuesday and Thursday evenings and group runs on Saturday mornings at Van Cortlandt Park. $10-$35/annual dues; vctc.org