Runners slogging it out on the pavements and in the parks of Australia aren’t a new phenomenon. But lately it seems there are more of them than ever (apparently three million Aussies are recreational runners) and there’s been a related surge in run clubs – groups of people who come together to run, socialise and motivate one another. While run clubs also aren’t new, an uptick in their numbers – whether thanks to people taking up running during Covid, searching for community or turning away from alcohol and towards exercise – means these days you’ll find one no matter what you’re after: there are clubs for serious runners, groups for those in search of the city’s best pastries, crews all about promoting good mental health and more.

“There has absolutely been an uptick in the growth of both interest and awareness [of run clubs] in the last couple of months,” Chad Cohen, who co-founded Sydney’s Unofficial Run Club with Sam Dreyfus, Sander Dalhuisen, Sarah Gellatly and Josh Wainstein, tells Broadsheet. “For us, it’s been because of the community we have created, but also the accessibility. After Covid it seems like people have missed the opportunity to connect. Attending a run club likely means that you are interested in health and fitness or running, and if you meet others there, they are too.”

George Wintle agrees that Covid had an impact. He founded Melbourne run club Ate Miles to get hospitality workers out of physically and mentally draining kitchens for an hour or so a fortnight and into doing something good for them.

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“I think the Covid boom of runners has a lot to do with people starting to not take things for granted. That was a really tough few years and running was one of the few elements of freedom we had,” he says. “I think people also just like feeling good – don’t we all? The rewarding feeling of laying down a long run with your mates is the new go-to and I’m here for it. When I started running during Covid in 2021, I saw a huge change in my day to day in the kitchen and found myself to be overall happier, sharper and more productive than I was before.”

Mental health was also a big factor in the founding of Sydney’s 440 Run Club – it’s since expanded to other cities – around eight years ago. Runners gather before sunrise at Bronte, running up and down the hill at Bronte Beach as the sky gets gradually lighter. Founder Trent Knox tells Broadsheet that during a tricky time in his life, running with a group lightened his load, gave him structure and put him face to face with a community of people.

“I’m four years into sobriety and it’s been a blessing for me to be part of this run club,” says Knox. “It’s kept me sober and kept me on the straight and narrow to help me through some dark times. We all have experienced darkness, and I worked out that if we keep our agenda of starting our Saturday in the dark, we always find the light in the end.”

Beyond the mental health and fitness benefits, pastries, coffee and even beers have become a strong pull for members of some run clubs. After its weekly run across the Harbour Bridge, Unofficial Run Club gathers at a nearby cafe for a coffee and croissant.

“This is another excuse for a chat, but a sweet treat after a session is very rewarding,” says Cohen. “To me, it’s about celebrating the achievement of being there and getting the session done. It’s about celebrating the opportunity to surround yourself with some of your closest friends and new friends on a Friday morning [when] usually you would be slower to wake up and go straight to work.”

Where to find your nearest run club

Parkrun: Founded in London in 2004, Parkrun’s empire stretches across 22 countries and launched in Australia in 2011. Every Saturday morning, dozens of Parkrun events are held across the country, with participants of any skill level – who need only register once to run in any event around the world – running a timed five kilometres.

440 Run Club: This run club is built for early risers – it usually starts in the morning when it’s still dark. Get running at locations across Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland and Perth.


Croissant Run Club: This social run club is all about good chats and a little treat at the end of your five-kilometre jog. Runs begin at the Woollahra Gates at Centennial Park and finish at Cook & Baker in Bondi Junction.
Unofficial Run Club: This run club, which starts at 6am on Fridays under the north side of the Harbour Bridge, also usually ends with a pastry. The route is approximately 6.5 kilometres, but shortcuts can be taken if you need to cut the distance.
Turbo Runners: Depending on the time of year, you can join Turbo Runners at Centennial Park, Sydney Park or ES Marks Athletics Field at Moore Park. Runs are a combination of speed or time-based intervals, hill repeats, time trials or just jogging.


Ate Miles RC: What began as a way for hospitality workers to gain some structure, socialisation and wholesome physical activity outside the kitchen has expanded to invite anyone who wants to join for an inclusive, judgement-free jog. The group meets at Maap Lab every second Wednesday at 7am for a four-to-five-kilometre run, with coffee on the house afterwards.
Midday Milers: No time for before- or after-work jogs? Midday Milers ties into your lunch break, meeting at 12.30pm at the Tan Track on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a range of running workouts, including reps and longer eight-kilometre runs.
Gunn Runners: Choose between a 3.5- or five-kilometre timed circuit around Albert Lake with “Melbourne’s most social running group”. At 6pm on Tuesdays, the group starts its run at Limerick Arms in South Melbourne, where it also finishes with a drink on the house and a meal.


Adelaide Running Crew: This social running group meets twice a week – on Wednesdays at 6pm for intervals at the Uni Loop, and Saturdays at various locations around Adelaide for longer runs ranging from 10 to 20 kilometres, finishing with a cafe breakfast afterwards.
Mikkeller Running Club: A love of beer and commitment to running needn’t be mutually exclusive. The Adelaide chapter of brewer Mikkeller’s running club meets on the first Saturday and third Thursday of every month, finishing up at a brewery or pub. Stay updated on meeting points and distances on Instagram.
Prospect Run Club: Meet at Prospect Town Hall on Fridays at 5.30am for a six- or 10-kilometre run; Sundays at 6am at Cotto Cafe for a longer burn; and Tuesday mornings at the Uni Loop for intervals.


Unfit Running: Unfit Running pulls double duty as a run club and a way of supporting local hospitality businesses. Each Saturday morning the group meets for a one-to-five-kilometre run, finishing with a coffee, plus on the occasional Thursday the crew completes a one-to-three-kilometre run before hitting a brewery.
Soso’s Run Club: Runners of all levels meet at Newstead Park every Saturday at 6am, and at Fishbowl in Fish Lane every second Wednesday at 6pm for a five-kilometre run or walk finishing, naturally, with coffee.
Got the Runs: The wonderfully named Got the Runs meets on Sundays for a 30-minute run at your own pace, finishing with coffee and pastry. The location changes monthly, so stay tuned on Instagram.


440 Cottesloe: The Perth outpost of 440 meets at 5.55am Saturdays in front of Indigo Oscar. Finish your run or walk with a dip in the ocean, a coffee or both.
Perth Run Collective: Meet at 5.45pm on Tuesdays at Subiaco Physiotherapy for track-based running, and at 7.30am at Clarko Reserve in Trigg on Sundays for a six- or eight-kilometre run with a group of like-minded runners of all levels.

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