The goal of the Runner Friendly Community designation is to shine a national spotlight on communities that standout as runner friendly and to provide incentive and ideas for communities to work towards becoming runner friendly communities.
How to Earn the Designation
RRCA members are encouraged to work with city/community officials to submit an application. See nomination requirements below. Twice per year, the RRCA reviews nomination submissions from cities seeking to be designated as an RRCA Runner Friendly Community.
- July 1
- November 1
The RRCA reviews the following segments:
- Community infrastructure
- Community support
- Local government support
- Additional Support
Each segment includes important criteria as part of the designation process. The goal is for applicants to prove that their community works together to meet some or all of the criteria to provide for a safe running community.
An official representative from an RRCA member running club, event, or run specialty store must submit a nomination online outlining how your community meets some or all of the criteria outlined below.
Nomination submissions should:
- Demonstrate that the community is working in collaboration with public and private organizations to support running. A Runner Friendly Community should be able to prove it has the infrastructure to foster physical activity in a safe environment.
- Include three to six letters of support for the nomination. Letters of support can be uploaded on the application. Letters should be on official letterhead. One letter of recommendation should be from a leader of an RRCA member running club or event. Remaining letters should be from a mix of public leaders (mayor, government department heads, city council members, etc.) and private business owners (corporate CEOs, restaurant owners, store managers, for profit events, etc.).
- Optional submission: Share a video posted to YouTube, Vimeo or other video sharing platform that showcases how the community meets some or all of the criteria outlined below. The video should include statements from the applicant, local official(s), business owners, and local runners. Spotlight marquee community infrastructure. This video should be no longer than five (5) minutes.
Review the Community Criteria
- A Runner Friendly Community has a network of pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, multi-use trails, paths, share lanes, etc. (pedestrian networks). There should be vehicle traffic control at intersections (stop signs, clearly marked cross walks, etc).
- The pedestrian networks should allow a person to complete 3-10 miles of distance, either continuously in one direction or through a loop course, before the network completely ends. This may include a mix of trails, sidewalks, and share lanes that interconnect.
- A Runner Friendly Community ideally has a running track that is maintained, well lit, and open to the public for as many hours as possible.
- Additional community infrastructure includes: water fountains along a trail or pedestrian network, bathrooms (porta-johns), and available parking near a trail or path system. Trails/paths are maintained year round with snow removal in winter; and paths are well-lit after dark.
A Runner Friendly Community should be able to prove that organizations and businesses work together in a positive manner to promote running as a healthy exercise and sport.
- A Runner Friendly Community is home to one or more RRCA running clubs. The running clubs should host regular group runs, host races, and host social events. The membership fees for these running clubs should be affordable.
- The running club should show that it is working in collaboration with both public and private organizations to support and promote running throughout the community.
- A Runner Friendly Community ideally has a run specialty store along with other runner friendly businesses. Runner friendly businesses (coffee shops, restaurants, other merchants, etc) are engaged with the running community. They host group runs and offer discounts to local running club members; are willing to serve as a pre- or post-run meeting spot; allow runners to use their bathroom facilities as needed; serve as safe places that runners can stop at in an emergency, fill a water bottle; and support clubs through race sponsorships including in-kind donations, publicity, etc.
- Runner friendly businesses should be willing to hang the RRCA Runner Friendly Business static window decals in a window letting runners know the business supports the running community and is a safe place for runners in times of need. .
A Runner Friendly Community Should be able to prove a positive relationship exists between the running community and the local governmen.
- Runner Friendly Communities have officials that work closely with the local running community to secure race permits for safe and desirable race courses with a reasonable permit pricing structure.
- Race permits are issued for preferred course locations and dates.
- Local government should not impose excessive liability insurance requirements on the running community. The RRCA considers anything above $2 million per occurrence excessive required coverage for events. The RRCA has decades of claims history to justify this criterion.
- Law enforcement is a positive partner in event planning as opposed to a roadblock.
- Law enforcement pro-actively supports pedestrian rights, addresses complaints about pedestrian safety, including monitoring dangerous intersections, and more.
- No to low reports of crime on pedestrian networks with runner/pedestrian safety measures in place and areas patrolled regularly by law enforcement. Community responds to runner complaints by sending officers to locations.
- Community (park board, city officials, local health dept, running clubs and stores) actively promotes physical fitness, including running, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Outstanding Runner Friendly Communities go above and beyond the three criteria outlined above. These communities:
- Host youth running programs (track, cross country, youth clubs) in area schools (grade, middle, high), or hosted through the local running club.
- Have a Physical Activity promotion outreach plan that includes information about local running clubs and events. The local community plan should relate to the National Physical Activity Plan.
- Trail/path system has mile markers, directional signs, and/or maps on the course.
- Trail/path provide soft surface in additional to paved surface.
- Community has a reclaiming plan for old/unused land i.e. “rails to trails.”
- [email protected] Day event hosted by local businesses or local government entities.
- Water fountains are dog friendly.
- Local community involved with volunteerism at running events.
- Community has indoor running facility available.
- Local media supports and promotes running activities by promoting up-coming races and race results. Local media should support runners’ safety by including safety tips in reports about running.
Benefits of receiving the RRCA Runner Friendly Community® designation:
- Listed as a Runner Friendly Community on RRCA website for a five-year period. After five years, a community should resubmit a nomination to prove they continue to be a Runner Friendly Community.
- Receive a commemorative plaque from RRCA that can placed in city hall or community’s location of choice (additional plaques available for purchase).
- Community featured as a Runner Friendly Community in a national press release from the RRCA and the RRCA Annual Report.
- Receive 25 RRCA Runner Friendly Business static window decals to be placed in runner-friendly businesses by the local running club.
- Royalty-free use of RRCA Runner Friendly Community logo for 5-year period for use on city owned websites, in newsletters, and more.
After five years, a community must submit a renewal application to prove they continue to be a Runner Friendly Community to maintain the designation.