What is a Running Club?
A “club” is defined as an association or organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity. Therefore, the RRCA uses the term "running club" to define organizations that have some type of formal organization, whether nonprofit or for-profit, for the purposes of promoting community-based running organizations that empower all people to participate in the sport of running in pursuit of enjoyment, health, well-being and competition. A running club may also be referred to by members as a team, crew, training program, or other term that denotes formal organization.
Running clubs typically offer weekly group runs and/or walks along with more formalized training programs for beginning runners to seasoned marathoners and beyond. Running clubs also can own and operate events that attract members along with the general public to participate in the sport.
What is the difference between a running club, a running crew, or another types of running groups?
There 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. There are other terms used when naming clubs including: striders, pacers, roadrunners, etc. We recommend being respectful when picking your organization name or term, for example using the term "tribe" can be insensitive as it references outdated 19th-century social theory rooted in colonialism and oppression (tolerance.org).
Can I start a club if there is already one in my area?
The RRCA does not limit new clubs from forming in an area that has an established club. We do encourage interested parties to work with an established club to determine if a new club is feasible or necessary. Individuals interested in starting a new club should first each out to an established club and offer to host training runs or lead programs at a location or neighborhood not being served by the established club. If collaboration is not an option, it may be time to start a new club the serve your community, so keep reading.
How do I start a new running club?
Some clubs start organically with an informal group of runners that train together. Over time the group grows as friends are invited or people ask to join their runs. Some clubs are more intentionally formed to serve a need within a community to provide a structured organization that people can join and run with.
If no club exists in your community or you are seeking to offer an additional club option, now it the perfect time to start one. RRCA has the tools you will need to get started.
If you have over ten people joining group runs regularly throughout the year, you should consider establishing a formal club. Ideally, running clubs should have a formal organizational structure, including nonprofit status from the Federal government (or through RRCA) and be incorporated in their state of operation to protect individuals from person liability exposure. Informal run groups with limited to no organizational structure tend to be unincorporated associations that are led by one or a few individuals. Unincorporated associations expose their leaders to personal financial liability, and this model is not recommended by the RRCA.
- Identify your community needs and wants.
- Solicit feedback from people, friends, training partners, etc. about what they are looking for in a club.
- Use this knowledge to organize your planning meeting where you can finalize your mission, goals, and operating structure for the club.
- Identify and invite people that may be willing to be founding board members if you plan to organize as a nonprofit running club.
- Do some homework in advance of the planning meeting to understand the different types of organization structure, how to draft bylaws (RRCA has a sample template), liability and risk management considerations, etc.