Just moved to the area? Or just need a fresh way to get your butt out of bed in the mornings? Run clubs will help you meet new people and exercise regularly. Good news is there are a bunch on the Peninsula. The issue — knowing where to start.
No sweat. We spoke with the top six clubs on the Peninsula to help you decide. Because a running club is like a running shoe, the fit has to be just right.
Like wearing short shorts and sweating through your shirt? We know you do. West Valley Track Club is the premier running club on the Peninsula with track workouts and 6–12+ mile runs that’ll kick your ass.
Board Member Jason Karbelk describes West Valley as a “competitive, social running club that promotes training hard, racing hard, but having fun.” He says that a majority of the members ran competitively either in high school or college.
Karbelk did stress that membership is “very, very, very social.” Favorite events include Bay to Breakers, where 13 members connected by bungie run the race as a centipede, and a 70 mile relay around Lake Tahoe that’s been a West Valley tradition for the last 50+ years.
New member dues are $60 for the year ($50 for a renewal). If you’re interested getting started, email West Valley’s Peninsula team captain, Nicole Campbell ([email protected]).
Club organizer, Jim Loman, describes The Mountain View Area Run Club (MVARC) as “the people’s run club.”
“We have people that qualify for marathons to people that are moms pushing strollers,” Loman explains. “We get ’em all and take ’em all.”
MVARC offers track workouts Monday nights, mid-distance runs (3–7 miles) Thursday nights and Saturday mornings, and long runs (sometimes up to 16 miles) Sunday mornings. Loman says some go out for brunch after weekend runs and a book club started up recently.
Interested in becoming an Aardvark (that’s the club’s mascot, rhymes with MVARC)? Check out the group’s Meetup calendar and pick a day that works best for you. Membership is free.
Strong friendships are what stand out to Palo Alto Run Club president Kirstin Kempe, who joined the club when she first moved to the Bay Area 20 years ago. “Some of my best friends are part of the run club,” Kempe says. “It’s such a great network of like-minded runners — people that want to be active and hang out together.”
The club meets Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights and runs are typically 5–7 miles. Saturdays are reserved for longer runs.
In terms of pace, some runners are doing 6-minute miles, with those in the back of the pack doing 9- or ten-minute miles. Kempe says, “If you consistently come to the runs you will find your group.” They even started a Wednesday night walking group for people who are injured or who just want to take a nice stroll.
To join, Kempe says to show up for a Wednesday night run (meet at Lucie Stern Community Center at 6 p.m.) and give it a try once or twice before signing up. Membership is $25 per year, $10 for a 4-month trial.
The Mid-Peninsula Running Club does have serious runners who are competing in marathons and running 7-minute miles. But if you’re new to running or dusting the cobwebs off those Nikes, this group is for you.
Their main run is 9 a.m. Saturday mornings at Seal Point Park in San Mateo. It’s a 6-mile out-and-back but you can pick the distance that’s right for you. The group reconvenes an hour later for stretches and club announcements. The last Saturday of the month there’s a tailgate party in the parking lot, where members bring cake, cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee.
During the summer months, the club also holds a Thursday night run at Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo.
President and 29-year member of the club, Frances Schulze, says, “The focus is really strong support for one another — whatever your goals are.”
If you can commit to just one run a week, consider joining the Mid-Peninsula Running Club. Schulze says the best way to get started is to simply show up for their Saturday morning run. Annual dues are $15.
Out of the Ordinary Runners
Asphalt not your shtick? Rather have alone time amongst the trees? You’re probably a trail runner. And if you’re a trail runner on the Peninsula, you should consider BayTrailrunners.
“If you are the type of person that revels in dirt, trees, rock, water, air and sweat, we welcome you,” says founder Robert Rhodes.
Trail runners are a certain Myers Brigg type — there’s no set schedule for weekly runs. Rob sends out an email every couple weeks with the upcoming calendar of events.
Finally, a run club that doesn’t care about running! The Silicone Valley House Hash Harriers, do run, but you’re not allowed to call it that. In fact, saying the “r” word will result in a “down, down” (meaning you have to chug a beer).
There’s a whole series of rules and lingo that this club, with chapters around the world, will teach you on your first “hash.” Get ready for an adventure and maybe a sweat (though really, that’s not the point).
Hashes are on Thursday nights and every other Saturday on the Peninsula. Make sure to check the group’s calendar, as meet up points are always changing.
The Hash Harriers are steeped in tradition, but newbies are always welcome. Silicone Valley Grand Master, Dave Ginsburg aka Worm, said, “we won’t tell you how we recognize newbies, but we recognize them.” Copious amounts of beer is our guess.
Remember to bring $5 to pay for each hash.