The rise of free and inclusive run crews in Australia (and around the world) has been building for years.
In most cities in Australia there are run crews for nearly every type of runner. If you want to cruise, or if you'd rather run fast, there are crews for that. There are crews that end their runs with beer, all-female crews, crews with coaches, LGBT+ crews, trail running crews, and more.
What's the difference?
Run club or run crew? It turns out, quite a lot.
For a start, modern run crews are free and don't rely on memberships. They typically feature packs of runners who aren't necessarily training for a race, and sometimes they don't have any accredited coaches.
Like run clubs, the athletes have a passion for running, but they're fuelled by something more – the rush of running together through stunning city vistas or the thrill of cruising down empty back streets in the dark, as well as the strong comradery and after parties.
Petar Ceklic, from Perth Urban Runners, started the group three years ago after a stint overseas. "We were living in Belgrade, Serbia, and I was training for my first marathon," says Ceklic.
"I wanted to join a club and I found one that was perfect – Belgrade Urban Running Team. It featured lots of running, but it was still very social."
Join the crew
The positive experience in Belgrade inspired Ceklic to start something similar when we moved to Perth. He says a regular crew of around 40 runners, plus some travellers or people in town for business attend the training sessions.
"We meet at 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at various places around the city," says Ceklic.
"A couple times a month we have guest coaches do a session with us," he adds.
"Last week we were fortunate to have Vlad Ixel, an accomplished trail runner who's won over 40 ultra races, lead our strength a mobility session last week."
If you're keen, here are some of the crews and clubs you can find across Australia:
Sydney Harbour Runners
If you want a run with a view try Sydney Harbour Runners a go. All the six and 11km courses have great views of at least one of Sydney's iconic bridges. The group trains together and races together. Weekly group runs are free and they meet on Tuesdays from 5:45pm at The Bristol Arms, 81 Sussex Street in the CBD.
This free, non-competitive social running crew attract Kirribilli locals and people from all over Sydney to their Monday 10km and Thursday 6.25km runs. There's no need to register and you can sign up to a weekly newsletter.
The 440, takes its meaning from the uphill distance members run before reaching the top and trotting or bounding back down. In around 40 minutes, runners sweat out 10 laps of the course, and after catching their breath, they head to a nearby café for a coffee and chat. Run crews meet on Saturday mornings in Bronte, Cronulla, Currumbin Byron Bay and South Yarra.
Hunter Athletics and Recreation
A modern running club, that's unapologetic about the pursuit of performance and the commitment to progress. They run laps of the Olympic Park track on Tuesday mornings, a fast five kilometres on Thursday mornings, and a juicy, long run (15-20km) on Sundays.
605 Running Crew
This growing crew meetings at 6:05am every Tuesday and Thursday in Port Melbourne or the CBD for free and inclusive runs.
View this post on Instagram
The AM avos Port to St Kilda return cheeky 10km and coffee ✔️. Next is our 6:05 PM set at Batman Park CBD tonight. New Avos welcome. #putyouravosout
AM:PM Run Crew
This crew knows it's hip to be fit. The group consists of likeminded local creatives who run weekly in Melbourne and across the globe. Routes change every week and are organised within the crew.
Brisbane Social Run Club
This social running crew meets at 6:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday for a 5km circuit around the CBD and river boardwalk. The paced runs are followed by dinner at different restaurants.
Adelaide Women's Recreational Running Network
Athletics South Australia and the Adelaide City Council have teamed up to create a new initiative called the Women's Recreational Running Network (WRRN). The run crew is free and aims to activate underutilised city parks and break down barriers for women's participation in physical activity. Women run together under the guidance of a qualified run leader in a non-threatening environment.
Trail Running SA
This friendly crew of runners organises social off-road running activities to help runners of all levels and abilities to enjoy running in natural surroundings.
While a bit of a strange name, this super friendly, diverse group of runners take flight at
Parliament House on Mondays, Stromlo Forest Park on Thursdays, and ACT trails on Sundays. All are welcome to join in, it's all free of charge.
Perth Urban Runners
Ceklic's social running crew is open to all levels, completely free and there's no need to register – just rock up. The crew meets centrally with a common goal of running more and staying motivated with a friendly bunch of runners.
Secret Rocky Runners
This Rockingham based social running group's sole purpose is to have fun and encourage and support each other's running. They embrace team spirit while also challenging runners to be stronger individuals. Social runs are free and all levels of fitness, from the beginner athlete to the experienced ultra-marathon runner are welcome.
Launceston Running Buddies
This free, social running group in Launceston hold Tuesday evening runs at 5:30pm. The group runs between nine and 11 kilometres and everyone is welcome.
The Darwin Runners Club meets every Wednesday evening at 6:15pm. Venues vary each week but they are a great group of runners. Anywhere from 60 to 100 runners turn up for the weekly runs, which are usually followed by a BBQ.
The high of crossing the finish line inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. Whether you're a newbie to the running scene or a seasoned athlete, Laura brings the latest running trends and gear to readers across Australia. With a day job in the corporate world and a busy toddler, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to sharpen her mind and challenge her body.
Follow Laura Hill on Twitter