The Road Runners Club of America is pleased to welcome two new Runner Friendly Community® designations:
- Dayton, Ohio
- Salisbury, North Carolina
The RRCA also congratulates Kalamazoo, Michigan and Chattanooga, Tennessee for successfully renewing their Runner Friendly Community designations.
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.
Dayton, OH – The sixth largest city in Ohio and the fourth largest metropolitan area, Dayton, per a 2017 census estimate, has a population of over 140,000. Once a city heavily reliant on manufacturing, Dayton has evolved over the last few decades into a service economy. Home of the Wright Brothers, Dayton has a long connection to aviation, a tradition that continues to this day with the presence of the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, one of the community’s largest employers. In addition, Dayton has become a hub for legal services and healthcare, with the Premiere Health Partners contributing an estimated $2 billion to the city’s economy per a 2009 study. This economic evolution and spirit of innovation can also be seen in what makes Dayton a Runner Friendly Community.
Dayton, and the greater Miami Valley, boast an extensive trail network stretching over 340 miles in total. These paved, multi-use recreational trails stretch across county lines, connecting schools, parks, historic landmarks and area attractions. The trails allow for travel through meadows, scenic countryside, forested areas, and city centers. The trail network also demonstrates how running and fitness can be contribute to the social fabric of a city, serving as a gathering hub for many community events throughout the year.
Dayton also has a strong business community devoted to running, which includes run specialty retailers: Runners Plus, Up & Running, and Can’t Stop Running Company. Runners Plus cites three key areas of community involvement in its mission statement: youth running, community events, and engaging key partners like the local government. Monthly pub runs are a big part of the Dayton running scene, fostering a social side to the sport. Restaurants including Brixx, Lock 27, Dayton Beer Company, the Wandering Griffin, Lucky, and Star Brewing Company all offer support to the running community.
Dayton’s largest running club is RRCA member, the Ohio River Road Runners Club (ORRRC), who submitted the Runner Friendly Community application. Established over 50-years ago, the club now boasts over 1,200 households in its membership making it the biggest running club in the state, and one of the largest in the country. ORRRC has a strong commitment to supporting community-based running, putting on an annual multi event race series that is completely free for members, and includes a nominal entry cost for non-members.
Salisbury, NC – Forty-four miles from Charlotte, and considered within its metropolitan area, Salisbury is a fast-growing city, with a population of over 33,000 per the 2010 census, an uptick of over 27% from the same count in 2000. With origins dating to the 1750s, Salisbury today boasts several sites on the national historic registry, and a prominent downtown that still features many local businesses and serves as a social gathering point throughout the year. Grocery store chain Food Lion’s headquarters are in Salisbury, making it the largest employer in the community, with other, smaller locally-owned businesses making up a significant portion of the city’s economy.
A major factor in what makes Salisbury a Runner Friendly Community is the strong support of its local government. The police department works closely with the RRCA member, Salisbury Rowan Runners (SRR), on 15-20 races per year. The fire department attends almost every race to provide EMT services. Street maintenance department makes sure that the streets are good shape, and the Parks & Rec. Department actively promotes all events. The local parks & rec. is also an SRR partner in the club’s beginning runner classes. In turn, SRR has held regular annual races to support police, fire, and parks & rec. with fund raisers for at least 20-years. The city manager, police chief and fire marshal are all runners and participate in local races.
Salisbury has also taken steps recently to improve an infrastructure that actively supporters runners. The city’s greenway system, currently a 5.2 mile loop, continues to grow toward a completely connected route that will eventually encompass parks, suburbs and city streets. Salisbury and Rowan County area a part of the Carolina Thread Trail, a coordinated trail system that connects 16 surrounding counties. All bridges are pedestrian friendly and sidewalks are wide and well-maintained and safe. The Catawba College and Knox Middle School tracks are available to local runners except during school sponsored athletic events.
SRR are Salisbury’s largest running club. Its 1,000 members make it one of the larger clubs in the state, and a spirit of community involvement permeates much of the club’s activities. The club’s motto – “A place for every pace” – speaks to its robust work with beginning runners, and its commitment to helping build a more healthy and fit Salisbury. The club also works hard to include key community stakeholders in its activities. Over 45 local businesses sponsor events in SRR’s race series, including Novant Health Systems serving as the sponsor for its biggest event, the January Winter Flight 8K. There is a very purposeful ongoing collaboration and cooperation between SRR, city services, civic clubs, businesses and the local hospital that truly meshes all resources to make Salisbury a Runner Friendly Community.
About RRCA: Founded in 1958, the Road Runners Club of America is the oldest and largest national association of running clubs, running events and runners dedicated to promoting running as a competitive sport and as healthy exercise. The mission of the RRCA is to promote the sport of running through the development and growth of running clubs and running events throughout the country. The RRCA supports the common interests of runners of all abilities during all stages of life by providing education and leadership opportunities along with programs and services that benefit all runners. Learn more at: www.RRCA.org