Running serves a number of purposes. It’s a movement that allows humans and animals to move rapidly on foot; it’s an exercise that strengthens joints and burns tonnes of calories; it’s also a means to satisfy our competitive nature, and rise above the rest.
Running has always meant much more than personal bests, start lines, and Strava-logs for Vancouver Running Company’s co-founder Rob Smith. Since 2015, the VRC has been committed to promoting running as a vehicle for inclusivity, solidarity, charity, community-building, and enhancing mental and physical well-being.
On a weekly basis, the highly-social VRC Flight Crew assembles on the roads and trails with a strict no-drop policy. So whether you’re an Olympian or a newcomer, you’re guaranteed a running partner, and plenty of post-race high-fives.
It doesn’t matter what kind of runner you are, or where you come from, our community welcomes everyone
This collective camaraderie is what led Smith and the VRC to participate in the Wings for Life World Run, an event open to all, that gives 100 percent of sign-up fees to spinal cord research. They rallied over 150 runners in 2015 and the club’s participation has continued to grow as they run alongside #TeamCoast2Coast — a Wings For Life team founded by two recovered quadriplegics, Mike Shaw and Jim Mullan.
This year the team hopes to cumulatively run 5,500 kilometres, the distance spanning from Vancouver to Halifax, and VRC plans to contribute as many kilometres as possible.
“Wings for Life aligns with our community because they have a positive goal,” explained Smith. “To hear about Mike Shaw’s climb back from devastating injury, and see the tangible impact that WFL has had on his life, that’s all we need join the cause.”
Communities like the VRC exist across Canada. So if you’re looking to link up with local Wings For Life World Run participants, and join a group of like-minded, inclusive runners in your neighbourhood (even virtually), continue scrolling to find a community near you.
1. Anti Social Running Club
Where: Canada-wide, Strava-based
Province-wide lockdowns, travel restrictions, and laws against physical socialization have isolated runners nationwide — making it harder than ever to stay fit and connected. In light of these new norms, ASRC was founded as a Strava-based running club that collaborates with local running clubs, restaurants, food brands, and other brands to revive running communities through innovative events.
2. Vancouver Running Company
Where: Vancouver, British Columbia
The Vancouver-based VRC Flight Crew is a place where Olympians and newcomers run alongside one another; and where no runner is left behind. Created to be a vehicle for well-being and connectivity, the club organizes weekly road and trail runs, virtual events, and workshops to bring together and grow the city's running community.
3. OTT City Run Club
Where: Ottawa, Ontario
#6RUN3 is an Ottawa-based running club that fosters community, performance, and inclusivity through weekly runs, and creative, unconventional running events. Due to pandemic restrictions, OCRC is only hosting virtual runs and events via Instagram Live.
4. What’s Really Good Run Club
Where: Montreal, Québec
WRG Run Club is a fun and diverse group of runners that meet-up every Monday night to climb the infamous Mont Royal. As a collective, the club participates in the annual Wings for Life event, and they even host their own Podcast called “Le Run Down”.
Most recently Justin Pugliese, host of Le Run Down, sat down with pro skier, runner and Wings For Life World Run ambassador here in Canada, Mike Shaw. Check it out to learn all about Mike, his love of sports, the tragic ski accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down, and the miraculous recovery which led him to co-found #TeamCoast2Coast.
5. North End Runners
Where: Halifax, Nova Scotia
The NER are a diverse group of runners that believe in promoting inclusiveness and camaraderie on and off the roads of Halifax. They gather each Wednesday night for a casual 6km run, host an annual Halifax Rainbow Pride Run, organize trail cleanups, and are currently gearing up for their “Pick Your Pandemic Personal Best Part Two” event.
How to sign up for Team Coast 2 Coast
Want to join Team Coast2Coast as they aim to collectively run 5,500 km? Here’s how:
- Download the free Wings for Life World Run App from the App Store
- Register before May 8th, 2022
- Then, join #TeamCoast2Coast on the app to join the effort