The Road Runners Club of America is pleased to announce and welcome its Runner Friendly Community® designations for 2017:
- Frederick, Maryland
- Golden, Colorado
- Holland, Michigan
- Huntington Woods, Michigan
- Ithaca, New York
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Minneapolis - St. Paul, Minnesota
- Sheboygan, Wisconsin
These communities have shown that they meet the program’s criteria, which includes community infrastructure, community support and local government support for running. The goal of the RRCA’s Runner Friendly Community program is to shine a national spotlight on communities that standout as runner-friendly and to provide incentives and ideas for communities to work towards becoming runner-friendly communities.
FREDERICK, MARYLAND – Located near both Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C., with a population of over 65,000, Frederick is the second largest city in Maryland. Historically, Frederick’s geography played important roles in both the colonial era and during the Civil War, serving as a major crossroads for the Union and Confederacy. The city’s expanding population has helped to encourage a burgeoning arts and cultural scene, as well as the development of significant public outdoor spaces.
A robust network of publicly accessible running trails takes advantage of Frederick’s geography. Running tracks are open to the public and are well maintained by the community. There are close to ten miles of paved pedestrian networks throughout the city. There is also an off-road trail system, a portion of which runs on the Appalachian Trail. The trail system includes state parks, two national parks, and the city watershed. Mileage is essentially unlimited in this trail system, and it is home to popular ultra runs, including the Catoctin 50K and the JFK 50 Miler.
The Frederick Steeplechasers Running Club (FSRC), founded in 1975, is the largest running club in the city and offers a variety of training and racing opportunities from beginner programs to participation in the RRCA Maryland Grand Prix and more. The club works with local elementary schools by providing free running clubs to the students as an afterschool activity, and they provide grants to graduating seniors through the FSRC Scholarship Fund. The club has worked with a variety of businesses to develop a network of Runner Friendly Businesses where runners can stop for water, restrooms, shelter in inclement weather, and more. The club has mapped the businesses on their website as a service for their members and area supporters.
The Frederick government is committed to making the community runner friendly. It works with local clubs for permitting, ensuring that city races are reviewed for safety. The city also puts forth considerable effort in support of the Frederick Running Festival by supporting the needed road closures, providing police support, emergency medical support, and more. The Frederick Running Festival, now in its 15th year hosted by RRCA member Corrigan Sports Enterprise, offers a half-marathon, 5K, and Kids Fun Run attracting thousands of runners each year.
GOLDEN, COLORADO – Golden was founded in 1859 as part of the Pike’s Peak gold rush. After the gold furor subsided, Golden’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains, as well as the Clear Creek body of water that runs through the town, made it an industrial hub. Today, the mills and mines of the late 19th and early 20th century have given way to more modern economic drivers like the Coors Brewery, and the National Renewal Energy Laboratory.
Golden has a vast network of trails and paths with pedestrian bridges that cross over busy streets and the river that flows through town. Many of the trailheads provide for clean restrooms along with water fountains with dog water spigots and ample parking. The City of Golden does an excellent job of maintaining trails. They are working with local running clubs to implement additional signage around town to help runners navigate the network of trails in town and in the surrounding area. The City of Golden has developed an award-winning parks and trails system and the city’s website has a listing of the trails in and around town.
The Foothills Running and Cycling Club (FRCC), a community-oriented club founded in 2010, is made up of a variety of runners from beginners to ultra runners. The club has a variety of weekly events including trail runs, social runs, track workouts and marathon training groups. The club works with the local food bank by organizing and hosting food donation running events, such as the Christmas lights runs. FRRC promotes and supports area races by providing volunteers, as well as promotion of events in their popular weekly newsletter.
HOLLAND, MICHIGAN – Holland is situated in Michigan’s lower peninsula, along the banks of Lake Michigan. As the name would suggest, the city of just over 33,000 has a rich Dutch heritage. Settled in 1847 by Dutch Calvinist separatists, the city’s relationship to its roots are reflected not only in the city’s culture, but also its economy. The Tulip Festival each May brings in close to one million visitors each year. In addition to festivals, visitors and residents alike are drawn to Holland for its trails, green space, and picturesque waterfront.
Holland’s commitment to being a Runner Friendly Community can be see through the city’s unique downtown sidewalk snowmelt system, which ensures that nearly five miles of sidewalk are clear of ice and snow during the harsh winter months. The sidewalk system, installed in 1988, uses over 190 miles of tubes pumping over 4,700 gallons of heated water per minute, warming the surface and melting snow and ice.
The Holland Running Club hosts runs twice a week from the snowmelt location, giving runners who would prefer to not venture onto snow-covered or icy sidewalks the option of running out and back loops on a dry surface. On any given weekend morning in the winter numerous runners will be found downtown utilizing the sidewalk system.
The community’s approach to pedestrian infrastructure has seen a shift in recent years with the City of Holland hiring a “Walkable Communities” expert to identify means to increase pedestrian safety. The City of Holland has officially adopted a Complete Streets philosophy to community planning. In the last few years, the city has increased use of strategic curb bump-outs and pedestrian signs as well as crossing lights to facilitate safer crosswalks in identified “pinch points” where pedestrian traffic intersects significant automotive traffic.
In 2014, a group of runners came together to form the Holland Running Club (HRC). In addition to bi-weekly runs, the Holland Running Club has partnered with numerous organizations to promote the sport of running in the Holland community. HRC provides runners and volunteers in support of the Holland Haven Marathon, the Kal-Haven Trail Run, Park2Park Half Marathon, and more. The club has participated as a vendor at the Tulip Time 10K and 5K expo. This is the largest local race in Holland, boasting over 2,500 participants.
HUNTINGTON WOODS, MICHIGAN – A Detroit suburb, Huntington Woods is home to over 6,000 residents. The community’s two defining structures can be traced to past resident Horace Rackham. In 1924, Rackham donated 22 acres of land to help with the construction of the Detroit Zoo, which remains in that spot today. The same year Rackham build what is believed to be the first public golf course in Michigan.
Huntington Woods’ commitment to being a Runner Friendly Community begins with its infrastructure. There are 24.75 street miles in the city with sidewalks on 99% of all streets. All 99% of sidewalks at street intersections have ramps that meet ADA standards and make sidewalk routes accessible to walkers, runners and people with disabilities. Runners/walkers could run every street in the city including the interior streets and major roads that create the city's border, without having to cross a major intersection. In 2002 a running track was installed on the grounds of Burton Elementary School & Burton Community Park, near the center of the city. The park and track are open to the public every day during non-school hours. Additionally, the Gillham Recreation Center, located near the center of the city, contains public restrooms, water fountains and a parking area.
The Motor City Striders (MCS), founded in 1959, works closely with the city to conduct the annual event, Run/Walk BOOM!!! 1 Mile & 5K. The event serves as a fundraising that assures thousands of young kids and old kids can continue to enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks over Rackham Golf Course.
The Huntington Woods Dept. of Public Safety (HWDPS) has always been a very supportive and cooperative partner for the running community. HWDPS constantly promotes pedestrian safety by encouraging the use of sidewalks; outlining the importance of carrying ID, and promoting that light colored or reflective clothing should be worn. For over 20 years, the department offers residents free reflective Velcro armbands for increased visibility and safety.
ITHACA, NEW YORK – Ithaca is the largest city in the Southern Tier-Fingerlakes region of New York, with a population of over 30,000. The presence of the Cornell University, as well as Ithaca College, gives the community much of its identity. One of the largest and foremost research universities in the country, Cornell has a total enrollment of nearly 22,000 students, while employing close to 10,000 people.
"Casual runners, trail runners, and triathletes all find Greater Ithaca the place to run in Upstate New York. Set to the backdrop of some of the most iconic scenery in the Northeast, including the tallest waterfall in the US this side of the Rocky Mountains, Greater Ithaca affords outdoor running experiences unlike any other." ~ Ithaca Trails
This spirit of cooperation and pragmatism can be seen in how the local government, citizens, and law enforcement all work together to create a safe environment for runners. The local government encourages running and actively makes permitting easy and affordable for races. The mayor actively worked to bring a half marathon to downtown Ithaca, the Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon, by collaborating with leaders in the running community and the Chamber of Commerce.
There is a strong spirit of community involvement demonstrated by the Finger Lakes Runners Club (FLRC), The club works with area nonprofits to put on their races by providing volunteer support and equipment, as needed. Since 2011, the club has offered scholarships to deserving male and female high school seniors who participated on their school’s cross-country and/or track and field teams. As an added benefit of membership, Cornell University permits club members to use their indoor track during open hours.
“Ithaca cares deeply about the health and well-being of its citizens and visitors,” wrote Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick in his letter of recommendation. “The running community here takes a leadership role in bringing the city together and making Ithaca a great place to get out and run.”
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – A city of both history and culture, Memphis is the second-largest city in Tennessee, with a population of over 650,000. While geography remains a key part of Memphis’s identity, its economy is largely driven by three Fortune 500 companies that call it home: FedEx, International Paper, and AutoZone. Memphis is also internationally known for its famous musicians: BB King, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and Roy Orbison.
Memphis has 100+ miles of rails-to-trails, continuous and intersecting runner/biking paths, and wooded trails ranging from smooth dirt to rocky and challenging technical trails. The trails are accessible from a large network of police-monitored parking lots and entry points. Memphis is also home to the 4,500 acre Shelby Farms, the largest urban park in the U.S. The park features more than 40-miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, that are popular for walking, biking, running and hiking. The park's trail network includes Shelby Farms Greenline, an iconic 10-mile paved cycling and pedestrian trail. Recent capital improvements at Shelby Farms includes a new 3-mile bike and running path circling Patriots Lake. The newly opened Harahan Bridge provides runners the ability to run from Memphis, TN over the Mississippi River and into West Memphis, AR.
The Memphis Runners Track Club (MRTC), founded in 1975, works to support the local running community in every way imaginable. MRTC is one of the largest and most active running clubs in the U.S., and membership has grown 57% in the last eight years alone. Watch their Runner Friendly Community video! Accurate course measurements, precise timing and race results, acquiring volunteers, organizing races, growing various training programs, are just some of the activities that show how the club's presence has helped shape the Memphis running scene. Area runners can participate in the club’s road race series or winter off-road series.
The St Jude Memphis Marathon weekend is the largest event of the year in Memphis. The marathon, a Boston-qualifying course, follows a scenic route through the city of Memphis and passes through the St. Jude campus, where patients, their families and other onlookers gather to cheer. Runners will also pass through historic areas before finishing in front of a crowd in AutoZone Park.
MINNEAPOLIS - ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Minneapolis’s population of 410,939 makes it the largest city in the state, and its greater metropolitan area is the 16th largest in the United States. St. Paul is the state capital and second biggest city in Minnesota, with a population of over 300,000. Located along the Mississippi River, each city contains several lakes within its boundaries. Combined with a robust park system that is generally considered among the best planned and maintained in the country, the Twin Cities are known for their active lifestyle.
Minneapolis’s city government is very supportive of races and the organizers that work so hard to make events successful. The police department, city officials, and Council Members all approach potential races with a constructive attitude, focused on making sure that the race can happen and that organizers walk away from the event feeling that it was a success. The city requires a modest $100 filing fee with a race permit application and, if approved, a $0.50 per participant permit fee. The city also requires a liability insurance policy of $1 million per occurrence, keeping it in line with the RRCA’s recommendations for coverage for events. Permits are generally issued for the organizers’ preferred location and dates. In short, the city strives to say “yes” to runners rather than “no.”
The city contains countless, well-maintained trails that offer safe and scenic routes for runners of all abilities. One of the most popular trails is the Midtown Greenery and Cedar Lake Trail, a 5.7 mile route, which links the Mississippi River to a string of lakes in the city, all the way out to Minneapolis’s western suburbs. Additionally, Theodore Wirth Park, almost the size of New York City’s Central Park at 759 acres, includes many options for runners.
Greater Minneapolis as well as St. Paul has several active running clubs and organizers, including RRCA members Club Run, Get in Gear 5K 10K & 2K, Charities Challenge, and Twin Cities in Motion. Many area clubs and groups offer training programs that culminate in participation in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.
“Our city government, our beautiful and pedestrian friendly parks and trails, Minneapolis’s vibrant running community make Minneapolis one of the most runner friendly cities in the country,” wrote Jacob Frey, Minneapolis City Councilmember, Ward 3, in his letter of recommendation. Frey also holds the distinction of being an RRCA Roads Scholar grant recipient in 2006.
SHEBOYGAN, WISCONSIN – Fifty miles north of Milwaukee, and 60 miles south of Green Bay, Sheboygan has a population of just over 49,000. Located on Lake Michigan and home to several sandy beaches, Sheboygan is known as the “Spirit of the Lake.” Since its settlement by European immigrants in the mid-19th century, Sheboygan’s economy has long revolved around its proximity to water. The city has undergone significant re-development over the last two decades, including a key project in 2013 when the Shoreland 400 Rail Trail opened on a former Union Pacific Railroad corridor through the heart of the city. More than 30% of Sheboygan County’s residents live within a mile of the trail, making it a convenient and safe transportation and recreation option for thousands of people.
Sheboygan County offers 25-miles of lakefront running interspersed with parks with rest stops. The city has a variety of running surfaces that include, state park trails, sand dunes, natural area, black top trails, and crushed limestone trails. Through a 25 million dollar federal grant, Sheboygan County has completed marking designated lanes for running and cycling throughout cities in the county.
Sheboygan County Shoreline Striders, established in 1981 and through leadership efforts, was reconstituted into the current club in 2005. In addition to regular group runs and running-related social events, the club has worked to engage the larger Sheboygan community. Members regularly volunteer at events, such as, Brat Trot, Pigeon River Children’s Run, and Full Moon Half Marathon, stuffing bags, assisting with logistics, and pacing on race day.
Every August since 1984, Sheboygan, the Bratwurst Capital of the World and home to Johnsonville Sausage, has celebrated the history of the bratwurst with Brat Days. Runners and walkers alike gather in Sheboygan during this same weekend from around the Midwest for the race of the summer - The Brat Trot! This year’s race is August 5.