Road Runners Club of America

Growing the Sport of Running Since 1958

Getting Started

There are running clubs all over the United States from Maine to Alaska. However, not every town in the United State has a running club, but they should. The RRCA has a goal to see locally running clubs established in every city in the U.S. Organization of running clubs and events is the responsibility of local people. The RRCA, in turn, provides services, benefits and programs to support the locally-organized clubs and events. ​The RRCA does not dictate management or operations to our members, but we do outline membership requirements, operating guidelines, and guidance on best practices in managing a running club.

The RRCA does not limit new clubs from forming in an area that already has an established club, however interested parties are always encouraged to work with an established club to determine if a new club is feasible or necessary. Individuals interested in starting a new club should reach out to an established club and offer to host training runs in their neighborhood or a location in town not being served by the established club as an extended training offering of that running club.

Running clubs generally start small and form around some type of community, whether it is in the workplace, at a university, in a neighborhood or faith-based group, at a local brew pub, community center, and more. Within these various social groups a few core individuals should lead the task of forming the running club.

So what is the difference between a running club and a running crew?  Honestly, there really isn't much of a difference beyond group leaders choosing to pick one term over the other to describe their organization. The term "running crew" is a newer way to describe an organized group that provides group runs for their members/participants. From a historical perspective, many "running clubs" have been​ in operation since the late 50's and tend to have a more formal organizational structure, including nonprofit status from the Federal government (or through RRCA) and incorporation in their state of operation.  "Running crews" tend to be unincorporated associations that are organized by one or a few individuals, but these organizations can also be organized as formal nonprofit organizations or as for-profit businesses.  The RRCA uses the term "running club" to define and outline organizations that have some type of formal organization for the purposes of promoting and providing group training opportunities for their members or the general public.  Whether you call your organization a club, a crew, or a gaggle of runners, ​the RRCA provides services and benefits to help your organization.

Many running clubs start as a group of friends or co-workers that decide to get together for group runs or to travel to races. When the group is small and informal (ten or fewer people) the need for official structure might be minimal. However, small informal groups can grow quickly as new friends are invited to join and they invite friends to join the group runs. The next thing someone realizes is the group of five running buddies has morphed into 25 or more people showing up on a Saturday to run with the group. When a group run starts seeing more than 10 runners participating, this is the point at which you need to consider forming a more formalized running club to protect each other from potential liability exposure, especially the run group leader(s).

The RRCA offers its club members affordable general liability insurance, which covers all club activities including group runs, races, social events, meetings, etc. RRCA member clubs are required to carry insurance through any insurance company, however, if a club chooses to be insured by another provider it must show proof of insurance to the RRCA national office. RRCA insurance is paid annually in December for the upcoming year and clubs can join any time of year.  Review the membership requirements.

Organized running clubs ​typically offer weekly group runs and/or walks ​along with more formalized training programs including first timers 5K programs, marathon and half marathon training programs, and more. Clubs may be organized to put on races or fun runs for the benefit of the club or for other organizations in the community. Clubs may also be organized as youth running programs, Cross Country clubs, or serve additional functions with the goal of promoting running as a healthy lifestyle choice and a sport.

To establish a club, reach out to key individuals in the community who are interested in promoting running. Recruit individuals and organizations to help promote the new club. Various low-cost ways to advertise include sending emails to friends, establishing a social media presence for the club, maintaining a websites with key information about the club, and more.

When starting a new running club, solicit feedback from people about what they are looking for in a club. Use this knowledge to set-up a planning meeting to discuss the mission, formation, and goals of the club.

The Planning Meeting >>

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Road Runners Club of America