The irony of running is that while it often feels like an individual sport — and some of us cherish our time alone on the roads or trails — it also is a very social activity. Races aren’t just competitive events; they are also celebrations of the running community and its devotion to fitness.
The social aspect of running also lends itself to running clubs, where we can enjoy the camaraderie of group runs, related social activities, the exchange of training tips and the support of like-minded people.
“It forces you to have a bit of accountability,” said Ben Reisinger, who belongs to the Belmar Running Club in Lakewood. “People see that you come, you’re showing up, but there’s also the social aspect. Runners and people in the fitness community do fit things together.”
Reisinger joined the Belmar club in 2016 while in the process of losing 190 pounds and training for his first marathon. He moved from Lakewood to Lone Tree last fall, but he still commutes to Belmar for Thursday night runs with the group.
“When I was bigger, I would do unhealthy things like drink on the weekends,” Reisinger said. “Runners are going to bed early on Friday because they have a long run on Saturday morning. Being around that community and people who have the same values kind of pushes you to adopt those values. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the community.”
Looking for your running community? Here are 10 Denver-area running clubs for you to consider. Let us know of others you think belong on our list.
Belmar Running Club
Type: A group for all ages and abilities, Belmar was formed in 2010 at Runner’s Roost Lakewood, according to club president Lisa Wilson, and has met weekly on Thursdays ever since. “We’ve logged tens of thousands of miles and formed many ‘fast’ friendships, even a few romances,” Wilson said. They run in Belmar Park, so they never have to deal with vehicular traffic, and they like to say “Run Club is Fun Club.”
Number of members: 40-50
The vibe: “Our runners come in all shapes, sizes and speeds,” Wilson said. “Our commonality is that we love to run.”
Colorado Columbines Women’s Running Club
Type: This venerable club was formed in 1978 to promote recreational and competitive running for women of all ages and abilities. Club member Kim Zahn said it reflects the general population of female runners from beginners to ultra marathoners, “from turtles to rabbits.” Members live anywhere from Evergreen to Broomfield to Aurora. There are Sunday runs, fun runs and track workouts. There is an optional group within the group called Distance Divas.
Number of members: Approximately 200
The vibe: “The club has two fundamental goals: to provide women runners with an opportunity to build a social network of runners and to support the running community,” Zahn said. “The club encourages and empowers women to run, no matter their age or ability.”
Cost: $35 per year ($20 additional per optional Distance Divas session)
Contact info: http://www.columbines.org Also on Facebook and Meetup under Colorado Columbines Women’s Running Club.
Colorado Front Runners
Type: This is a running, walking and social club for LGBTQ+ people and their friends in the Denver metro area, open to all regardless of race, pace, age, gender, sexual orientation or athletic ability. “Our group is very diverse with respect to speed, distance and intensity,” said club president Joe Lozoya. ”We encourage and support all who participate.” The club meets Saturdays at 9:15 a.m. at the corner of Downing Street and Ninth Ave. There are also Thursday trail runs at 6:30 p.m. at various locations around the Front Range.
Number of members: Approximately 150
The vibe: Lozoya said the goal of the club is to provide opportunities to exercise with other members of the LGBTQ community and friends who share an interest in running or walking. Members also compete in races nationally and internationally and help push each other to meet running goals.
Cost: $20 a year
Colorado Masters Running and Race Walking Association
Type: CMRA caters to runners 35 years old and older
Number of members: 175
Vibe: CMRA sponsors running-related activities including fun runs, training sessions and other social events. “Our members believe age is just a number,” said club board member Sydney Ayers. ”We host low-key monthly races that are open to members and non-members alike.” Those races happen primarily on trails in distances ranging from 5K to 10 miles. They are timed and scored with ribbons or medals for male and female age group winners. Races are free for members; non-members pay $10 per race.
Cost: Annual membership is $32.50 for an individual, $48 for a family
Golden Trail Runners
Type: Based in the Golden area, this group is for anyone who enjoys trail running and hiking the beautiful trails of the Front Range, according to club member Tim Barr. ”Share some of your favorite trails and jump in by attending or organizing group runs,” Barr said. “Although most members may be primarily in the Golden and Denver area, this group is not limited to just local events.”
Number of members: More than 800; seven to 15 show up for most group runs
The vibe: This is a group for trail runners of all abilities. On most runs, faster runners will stop and let slower runners catch up at major trail junctions with the goal of keeping the group together. “If you are a super competitive runner that likes to push the pace, this probably isn’t the group for you,” Barr said. “We have fun, run as a group, and almost always have cookies waiting for us at the finish.”
Contact info: http://www.meetup.com/Golden-Trail-Runner-Group
Highlands Ranch Running Club
Type: Recreational club of all abilities. Most runs are in the southern part of the metro area, but members are from all over Denver metro.
Number of members: 50
The vibe: “We can help you fulfill your running goals,” said club founder Roxane Geisler, who is one of the club’s coaches. “Whether you run for fitness and fun, personal records, competition, we have a place for you.” There are coached workouts on Wednesdays and supported trail runs on Saturdays. There are social events, too. “You will always find someone with the same goals and pace as you as you run on many different trail and road courses throughout the Highlands Ranch and south Denver area,” Geisler said.
Cost: $120 for annual membership January-December (includes a tech shirt, hat or bag printed with the club logo, along with membership benefits from sponsors); $65 for half-year membership; $40 10-time punch card (if you are unable to attend often, but still want to be a part of the community)
Ralston Creek Running Club
Type: Based in Olde Town Arvada, a family-friendly running club welcoming all ages and abilities from beginners to ultras.
Number of members: 15.
The vibe: ”We are a club for people who love to run, or even people who wish they loved to run,” said club member Nina Sloan. ”We believe consistency and accountability create results, no matter your goal, and that running and friendship are good for you. We have members who walk, we have members who are pushing toward their first ultra marathon, and many things in between. Just do what best suits you and you’ll probably find a buddy doing the same. We have kids running with us, alongside their adults, and strollers are welcome.” Runners don’t have to be members to participate.
Cost: Individual annual membership $25; family annual membership (living at same address) $35
Contact info: Tim Sloan, phone 720-239-2337 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RCRunClub/
Rocky Mountain Road Runners
Type: This club is celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer, meaning it predates the running boom of the 1970s by two decades. It puts on a monthly race series using a handicap system so runners of different abilities can compete against each other. The idea is for the fastest runner to start last, the slowest runner first, and for everyone to finish close to each other. Race lengths vary from two to 10 miles.
Number of members: More than 400
The vibe: ”Our runners are speedy, slow, old, young, and dedicated,” said club member Dave Cunningham. “Some of our members have been with us for 30-40 years. Our members are social and love to get together to compete, or just have fun and ‘catch up,’ in the race or afterward with their best running friends.”
Cost: Individual annual membership $46.50; family annual membership (living at same address) $56.65
Type: An active lifestyle club that includes running and other recreational and social activities.
Number of members: 275
The vibe: MobLife welcomes athletes of all levels. “We want you to be successful, happy and wanting more out of your active lifestyle,” said co-founder Sarah Pirlot. ”With your free membership, you will get high fives, encouragement, free food and drinks.” The club has a Monday Night Run Club, which steps out at Blind Faith Brewing in Littleton, and numerous activities outside of running that include tubing, biking, paddle-boarding and more.
Cost: MobLife is free. The cost for races varies, with an average of $35.
Trail Sisters Golden Run Club
Type: This is a local chapter of Trail Sisters, an international trail running community with the goal of increasing women’s participation and opportunity in trail running through inspiration, education and empowerment. The Golden group hosts free, weekly women-only group runs on trails and paths throughout the Golden area, and like the Golden Trail Runners, it has a “no-drop” approach so group runs don’t become solitary excursions.
Number of members: 500 (10-30 show up for most group runs)
The vibe: ”Our group is open to women who have never tried trail running, as well as those who are experienced trail runners,” said group leader Brit Sliter. ”We often go to a local brewery after the run to socialize and get to know each other. We meet usually on Thursdays, and the runs are posted on our private group on Facebook.”
Contact info: On Facebook, Trail Sisters Golden, CO