Creating Community: 3 Canadian Run Crews

Whether you are a seasoned runner or a beginner, getting up and out for a run can sometimes be a struggle. That’s why so many of us like to run with other people – it keeps us accountable and on track. While some people subscribe to rigorous training with set goals – such as a Running Room marathon clinic – others prefer a less structured but reliable group. That’s where the run crew comes in.

Run crews vary in size, goals, organization and interest. What they have in common is that they provide a supportive running community for their members. Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend even has its own run crew – Team Awesome.

We reached out to run crews across Canada and chatted with a few to get a sense of what brings these runners together and sets them apart. Plus we got some tips on building your own run crew!

Fun Run Crew – Winnipeg, Manitoba

Established in 2016 “as a rag-tag initiative” by Renée Desjardins and her friend Danielle as a means of training for their first marathon, Winnipeg’s Fun Run Crew has turned into a weekly group of runners who get together on Monday mornings. As the name of the group suggests, this run crew is all about fun and is open to runners of all levels. “We are the average runner,” Renée says of herself and Danielle, “By being average, not elite athletes, we felt we would be more accessible to people who are beginning to run.”

Route: A loop around The Forks

Distance: 4-6K (depending on each runner’s individual speed and ability)

Number of runners: Anywhere from 8 to 14

What makes this group unique: “No runner runs alone” is the central philosophy of Fun Run Crew and the loop it runs ensures that no one is left behind. Slower runners can take the 4K loop at their own pace while faster runners will add a loop and few kms to their run all while meeting up with the rest of the runners.

Ottawa City Run Club (OCRC) – Ottawa, Ontario

A few years ago, Kayla Hunt, a dedicated member of Ottawa’s running community, was inspired by the growth of run crews happening in cities around the world. “We have a lot of organised groups [in Ottawa] but nothing grassroots for fun,” she recalls. So Kayla decided to lead the charge and committed to being in the park every Tuesday at 7:30pm. What has evolved is the Ottawa City Run Crew tightly knit community of runners who do more than just run together.

Route: Begins and ends in Dundonald Park

Distance: Varies depending on weather

Number of runners: Anywhere from 8 to 75

What makes this group unique: Like most run crews, the camaraderie has extended beyond the run itself. OCRC members work together and encourage each other to run by committing to in-town and out-of-town races, including Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, Ragnar Relay, Toronto Marathon and more. The sheer size of the group itself is astounding too, as Kayla describes it: “When you set out on some of those amazing summer nights and there are 75 runners, people stop and stare, and it’s amazing.”

Clinic Crew #TeamHufsa – Mississauga, Ontario

Hufsa Mushtaq fell fast for running after her first race in 2013. Within a year she was running 5K and 10K running clinics. A teacher at heart, Hufsa formed strong bonds with many of her trainees and kept in touch after the clinics ended. After she stopped leading training sessions, she found that she still wanted to run with a group. So she created a run crew for the runners she had kept in touch with as well as a few friends.

Route: Determined in advance by Hufsa

Distance: Varies depending on goals for the season

Number of runners: Anywhere from 5 to 12

What makes this group unique: “We’re a small group that knows each other and supports each other. Most of us are friends, so we get together outside of running. We call it a run family,” says Hufsa. The size and connection of the group make it unique in that it allows Hufsa to play an informal coach role. This allows her to go the extra mile: she schedules the runs in advance, will design them to help people reach specific distances and even hosts short races to bring the group together. This year she even started a new run series for her crew called Run for Ghazala in honour of her mother.

Looking to join a run crew? Why not start your own. Here are some tips to help you get started.

5 Tips for Creating a Run Crew

  1. Consistency is key. Pick a day and time. Stick to it and commit to being there for your crew.
  2. Find shared goals within the group. This will help your members bond and give your group a framework.
  3. Use social media to stay in touch. Creating a Facebook group, Instagram page or hashtag can help your members connect and allow you to update everyone on the route, scheduling and more!
  4. Spend time outside of running with other members. Who doesn’t need more friends?
  5. Find races for your crew to attend as a group.

That last one is easy – get your crew together to train for one of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend events. We’ve got benefits and special events organised for crews who decide to come to Ottawa. Find out more here.