The Road Runners Club of America is pleased to welcome its Runner Friendly Community® designations for winter 2017:
- Columbia and Howard County, Maryland
- Danville, Virginia
- Edwardsville, Illinois
These communities have shown that they meet the program’s criteria, which includes community infrastructure, community support and local government support for running. Each community has shown they have an infrastructure that can foster physical activity in a safe environment. They have a proven track record that organizations and businesses work together to promote running as a healthy exercise and sport. With the most important criteria being, there are positive relationships between the running community and local government.
The goal of the RRCA’s Runner Friendly Community program is to shine a national spotlight on communities that standout as runner-friendly and provide incentives and ideas for communities to work towards becoming runner-friendly communities. Runner Friendly Communities can also increase the quality of life, improve physical activity for residents, and provide for increased economic impact for the community.
Congratulations to the following Runner Friendly Communities:
COLUMBIA AND HOWARD COUNTY, MARYLAND
Howard County, located between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., is home to Columbia, a major planned community founded in 1967 that now has a population of over 100,000 residents. Conceived via a novel process that included social scientists as well as urban planners, Columbia was constructed to include local access to jobs, schools, retail, and medical services. This spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness continues to thrive today, and can be seen in what makes the community and county runner friendly. Both Columbia and Howard County have been recognized by publications like CNN Money and Forbes as among the best places to live in the United States.
Columbia boasts over 100 miles of pathways, many of which lead to several of the 35 parks countywide. There is also a network of over 80 miles of shared lanes. This extensive network is cared for by the Columbia Association, including re-paving and plowing in the winter months for safe use by pedestrians, runners and bikers. The wider Howard County area has a trail directory mapping all the 100+ miles of paved paths, including a mobile app to navigate the infrastructure.
The Howard County Striders, an RRCA member club, is dedicated to promoting lifetime fitness through running. An active member of the community, the Striders is one of the largest, most involved clubs in the mid-Atlantic area. The Striders sponsor or support many types of activities, including high-quality events, group runs at least three times a week, weekly series runs, and many activities to promote youth running in the community.
Howard County government has played an instrumental role in making the community runner friendly. Government leaders see the value in supporting the Howard County Striders and work to ensure members are safe during runs. County Executive Allan Kittleman is well connected to the club and has participated in several of its events. The Howard County Police also cooperate with the running community helping with safety initiatives and approving permits for races in a timely fashion. In turn, the Striders support the local police by providing timing equipment for their annual fundraiser, the Police Pace 5k, which takes place in mid-September and raises funds for the Police Foundation.
Located along the southern border of Virginia, 70 miles south of Lynchburg, Danville, VA has a population of just over 43,000. Located on major railways that ran to Richmond and points north in the mid-Atlantic, Danville developed into an industrial and manufacturing hub. The evolution of the textile and railroad industries in the mid-20th century had an adverse impact on the Danville economy. However, the spirit of perseverance in the community remained strong and can be seen in what makes Danville runner friendly.
Danville’s emergence as a running town accelerated rapidly in 2012. The city has invested in 16-miles of paved river front trail for running and completed an off road single track that can host a 50K event distance. There has been an expansion of local 5Ks, 10Ks, and Half Marathons. Local infrastructure development also includes the recently completed Anglers Ridge Trail System. Anglers Ridge weaves its way throughout the new CyberPark industrial park just southwest of the Danville Regional Airport. Using the old gravel farm roads as a backbone.
One of the driving forces behind Danville’s emergence as a Runner Friendly Community is RRCA member The Brick Running & Tri Store. The store has become a staple of the city, offering group runs, clinics for beginners and injury prevention, as well as event management services to help raise funds to feed the homeless and for cancer survivors.
Danville's local media is supportive of the running community and provides race coverage in the city’s newspaper along with topics of interest to runners, such as safety, health, and nutrition.
Originally incorporated in 1818, Edwardsville is the third oldest city in Illinois. Located in the southern portion of the state, Edwardsville has a population of just over 24,000. Part of the greater St. Louis metro area, Edwardsville has a rich history of its own. It is the birthplace of five Illinois governors. Today, Edwardsville is home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), as well as several historical museums, public parks, and a nature center. A 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine named Edwardsville third of their "Top 10 Best Towns for Families." This eclectic mix of influences can be seen in what makes Edwardsville a Runner Friendly Community.
A big component in Edwardsville’s runner friendly status is its infrastructure. The city sits at the hub of the Madison County Transit Trails (MCT Trails), which includes 130-miles of dedicated running/biking trails. Within the narrowly defined city limits there are 19.5 miles of dedicated paved trails. The majority of the trail system was developed through the Rails to Trails conservancy. Southern Illinois Edwardsville University further has a network of paved trails and 10+ miles of off-road trails. Finally, the school district has three publicly available tracks including a dedicated track and field complex.
The Metro Milers, an RRCA member, is the largest running club in Edwardsville. The group is dedicated to supporting running in three main ways: coordination, sponsorship, and support. The Metro Milers coordinate the Route 66 10K event each year, which generates funding that is used by the club to promote running in the community. The club also sponsors several local races including the Turkey Trot 5k, the largest race in town that is held on Thanksgiving. Additionally, club members volunteer at several local races, and have worked hard to encourage more active community participation. The club developed the Extra Mile Challenge, which challenges club members to complete a minimum of five races, out of ten identified, and volunteer at a minimum of 2 races. This successful program has resulted in a very robust presence of Metro Milers members at races throughout the community
Edwardsville has a population of about 24,000 yet has the fortune of three specialty running stores. RunWell is a community-based running store, run by a passionately focused owner who coaches new runners, offers several weekly group runs, coordinates special runs (e.g., New Years Day Resolution Run), and sells reasonable running gear. First to the Finish recently moved their headquarters to Edwardsville and primarily serves the track and field runners and has a robust on-line operation. Finally, the Cyclery is the oldest operation in town that actively serves both the biking and running communities. All three of these business are active sponsors of the Metro Milers and the running community