The Story Behind Philly's Biggest Running Club

Amy Murphy Pohl
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Philadelphia has always been known as a “city of neighborhoods.” From Fishtown to South Philly, residents are as loyal to their ’hoods as they are to the word “jawn” and hating the Dallas Cowboys. As a result, most running clubs in the city have formed within small communities, and carry monikers containing their respective neighborhood names. For many years, dozens of tight-knit clubs have been scattered throughout the city, both well-attended and loved by their members, operating separately and joining together for a few major events annually.

But Philly's running scene has never felt more united and invigorated than it does right now. This fresh, citywide sense of camaraderie among runners can be largely attributed to the birth of RUN215, a Facebook group started by Jon Lyons in 2014 for Philadelphia runners of every experience level. RUN215 exploded in popularity in 2015—now containing more than 2,300 members—and has become much more than just a Facebook group. It is now also RUN215.com, a standalone website for all things running in Philly, boasting the slogan “Community. Positivity. Running.”

 

While Philly run clubs are plentiful and well-organized, there was no online, centralized, social resource for all Philly runners prior to 2014. Enter RUN215. Now a new runner can access a comprehensive  calendar containing every club run on any day of the week through just a few clicks.

Additionally, there are organized RUN215 events happening almost monthly to bring the city's running community together. One of these featured events was the Chilly Cheeks Beer Bus in January, an organized ride to and from a Pretzel City Sports trail run in Reading, Penn. Others include the #NIGHTSHIFTPHL run, a late-night run garnering dozens of night owl runners, and an organized "fun run" with Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run. 

RUN215's most useful asset to local runners is the newly available access to 2,300-plus members' wealth of knowledge via Facebook. A runner can post a question about training, nutrition, gear, or upcoming races and get responses within seconds of posting. This page is a great way for runners to organize casual meet-ups, find out more about local events, or simply share their latest running successes.

But founder Jon Lyons has made it clear that RUN215 is not a place to disrespect others or share non-running related information or opinions. Thus far, this open communication has fostered a true sense of community among different experience levels of runners that might otherwise be difficult with such a large group.

Dani Graham - @trailscocktails

A major factor of RUN215's popularity and cohesion has been the branding and "swag" of the group. Early adopters attending organized events received RUN215 wristbands, establishing a tangible representation of the community. To add an incentive for participation in offline events, RUN215 wristbands are only available for runners who attend organized runs—they cannot be ordered or purchased. Additionally, T-shirts and tank tops adorned with the group’s logo are selling quickly, and more than $500 of proceeds from the shirts was recently donated to Students Run Philly Style , one of Philly's many running-focused non-profits.

Through the use of simple branding and open lines of communication, RUN215 has created a kind energy in Philly's running community that the city has never experienced before.

To join RUN215, visit the Facebook page.

You can also find RUN215 on the web and on Twitter.

 

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