Trail Running and Ultrarunning Clubs

VHTRCFor me, trail running was love at first sight. I spent four years as a high school distance runner and another four years as collegiate jack-of-all-trades runner (200m to 8k XC as well as 400 hurdles and steeplechase). Throughout that time, whatever my discipline, I hit trails whenever I could. Than, like some of you, I became an accidental convert to ultrarunning. After college, I moved to Washington, DC and went carless. Long story short, I looked for a trail running club, found the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHRTC – a de facto ultra club), and my runs with them lead to my first ultra half a year later.

Through those six months and the years that followed, the VHTRC’s members guided me and encouraged me as a ultrarunner. Ultra and trail running clubs are great sources of knowledge and encouragement. They’re often great trail stewards, instructing new trail runners on responsible trail use as well as organizing trail service and maintenance opportunities. They also tend to be some of the best and most entertaining folks you’ll ever meet.

All of that’s why I’m looking to put together a list of trail running and ultrarunning clubs for iRunFar.com and to supplement Relentless Forward Progress. If you know of any, please leave a comment with the name of the club, what area it reasonably covers (for example, VHTRC would cover VA, DC, & MD even if members live throughout the country), and the club’s web address, if there is one. Also, feel free to share a couple words about the club for any potential members who read this.

While you’re at it, what have you enjoyed about your trail running or ultrarunning club(s)? Why would you recommend another runner join a club in general?

There are 59 comments

  1. Adam

    Lapham Peak Trail Runners!

    We run in Delafield, WI (25ish miles west of Milwaukee) at the Lapham Peak State Park. Serves people from most places between Milwaukee and Madison.

    It's a great running group, filled with fast runners and slow alike. There are multiple RD's in the group from some very good local ultras.

    The group is a great fit for newbie ultra runners or for those more experienced. It seems like there's a member of the group racing just about every weekend of the year.

    http://laphampeaktrailrunners.blogspot.com/

  2. Andy

    Cutting my teeth with VHTRC too! Accidentally discovered ultrarunning last winter after moving to a townhouse about a mile from Bull Run. Was googling info on the trail when I found out there was a 50M race on it and that totally intrigued me – had no idea that sort of thing existed. Signed up to volunteer at BRR50 last April just wanting to see what ultrarunning looked like. Met a great runner volunteering at the same aid station. That kicked off a good friendship and the beginnings of ultrarunning myself. Ran my first marathon last Nov (Philly) followed by my first fat ass 50K last Dec with the VHTRC folks. Ran another 50K (Seneca Creek) this past weekend and currently sitting on the waiting list, hoping to get in to BRR50 in a month. So grateful I stumbled into this!

  3. Scott Shine

    San Juan Mountain Runners, cover Telluride, Ouray, Ridgway, and Montrose area. Small club now, but has ton of potential.

    Thanks.

    1. Heeva Asefvaziri

      Yeah SLO Trail Runners! Definitely a great group that welcome any distance trail runner. If you are in the area, check out the Facebook page as we are always posting updates on runs.

  4. Alex May

    The Fort Collins Trail Runners which includes runners from all over the Front Range, Fort Collins, Loveland, Windsor, Eaton, Boulder, Golden and beyond. We have regular group runs on Tuesday and Thursday nights including the infamous bi weekly Towers Road Hill Climb. We put on the Blue Sky Trail Marathon and Half in the fall and our group includes many very acomplished trail and ultra runners in addition to many people that are new to the sport. We have a yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FortCollinsTrailRun… and we a working on a website http://www.fortcollinstrailrunners.com/.

  5. Justin

    HURT – Hawaiian Ultra Running Team http://www.hurthawaii.com
    Includes all of Hawaii, but mostly the island of Oahu. There is a great trail series each year that starts with a 6 mile race (first race is March 12 this year) and builds throughout the year to end with a 100k and then a 100 mile race. There are posts on the website every week that share where the various groups will be running that weekend.

  6. Kim

    The Northeast Ohio Trail Club (http://www.neotrail.org/) is made up of outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy adventure, running dirt trails, but most of all – having fun! Anyone is welcome to join. Members are of varying ages and abilities, ranging anywhere from trail newbie to ultra marathon veteran.
    We have members in the north-eastern Ohio area, but also have members in Michigan, Pennyslvania, and all of the state of Ohio.

    Join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/neotrailclub

    Or check out our newsblog: http://www.neotrail.blogspot.com/

    Come join us for a run!

  7. Christian Dahlhausen

    CAT – Charlottesville Area Trail Runners

    We are a group of trail runners based in and around Charlottesville, Virginia. We train together, support each other in races, and have fun both on and off the trail. Some of us are also members of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC). We mostly run in VA, Blue Ridge Mountains. We have seasoned trail runners as well as newbies in our group.
    http://charlottesvilleareatrailrunners.blogspot.c

  8. Paul

    San Diego Dirt Devils

    This group was started as a more low-key, less competitive, more all-welcoming trail running group to offset some of the other local clubs. Been in action for a couple years and without question has succeeded at it's goal. We've got some fast people in the group, but every one of the members just loves getting out on the trails together.

    The long group runs on the weekends can sometimes turn more in to adventures with waterfall trips and side journeys than training runs. We save our racing for race day! haha

    O yea, best part…runs are often followed up with a trip to a local craft brewery.

    http://www.meetup.com/dirtdevils/

  9. Brad Koenig

    The Animal Camp

    http://www.TheAnimalCamp.com

    All runners of all abilities are welcome, but…

    To become am "official member" of the club, you must:

    1) run a recognized 100-miler; and

    2) obtain sponsorship from an existing member of the club

    Based in the Mid Atlantic region, our short-term goals are to:

    1) spread interest in ultrarunning;

    2) provide a forum for athletes to share information, plan training programs and organize training runs; and

    3) foster the closeknit community that is ultrarunning.

    A long-term goal is to organize and host a race and/or races.

    1. Nikki

      Just found the Claremont, CA, SoCalDayBreakers. (And, yes, I'm replying to my own question.)

      They're on Yahoo (http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/SoCalDayBreakers/). So far, I've run with a group of them only once, but it seems that there are often multiple group runs to choose from and varying distances, surfaces, and locations. It's a very supportive and welcoming group–to the newbies (like me) and seasoned (45+ ultras) alike. And fun people! (And, of course, there's that nerdy, mileage-, gear-focused ultra-runner camaraderie.) But, like the name says, they run early :)

  10. Larissa

    The Endurables in San Francisco/Marin/East Bay

    Organized trail runs on the weekends on North and East Bay trails along with a mid-week speed/hills/core workout in SF and Oakland. The group is comprised of all levels and distances from elite sponsored athletes to back-of-the-pack-ers.

    http://www.theendurables.com

  11. Jeff List

    TARC — Trail Animals Running Club

    http://www.trailanimals.com/about/

    "The Trail Animals Running Club (TARC) is the original trail running club of the Boston-metro area. Founded in the 1990s, the club’s membership consists of men and women, who enjoy and participate in the sport of ultrarunning and trail runs. Members are from all over the United States with a concentration of runners in New England, Upstate New York and Canada."

  12. Tim Nelson

    I've been seeking admittance to the Trailheads in Chapel Hill/Carrboro NC. I've told my joke on the trail, done lots of coffee at the Open Eye, just need to get my trail name!

    trailheads.org

  13. Mariela Botella

    Houston Trail Runners (HTRex)in Houston, Texas is a group of runners and walkers dedicated to promoting trail and ultra-running.

    HTRex is not an 'official' club per say, rather just a group of training partners who meet on the weekends for our long runs through HoChiMinh (HCM), Huntsville State Park (HSP) or the Lone Star Trail (LST) and who take road trips to trail runs together.

    There are no officers, dues, or meetings. We do have a YahooGroup and a Facebook page to communicate upcoming training runs, events and share information with the entire group. There are about 200 runners registered in our YahooGroup and 130 on Facebook.

    Our weekly runs are open to anyone from any club (or no club at all). To become an 'official' member, all one needs to do is show up and participate in our training runs.

    If you would like more information, visit our:

    YahooGroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/h_t_rex/
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=95843212

  14. Matt

    Western, MA Trail Runners Network

    http://413trailrunners.ning.com/

    This is a small network of runners located in Western Massachusetts, mostly in and around Northampton. The website is a network style site with a forum. Unintentionally, the network/club is geared towards trail runners who actively race. Lots of talented locals chime in. Training runs are scheduled through the site as well.

    1. Amy

      Come on Matt – you know our unofficial name is: HURL (Happy Valley Ultra Runners League – the 'V' is silent). :)

      Go HURLers!

  15. Cody Hanson

    For any collegiates out there looking for other young ultrarunners, I'm part of the Cal Poly Trail Runners. We're new and small but run almost exclusively on trails and have between 5 and 10 members who are also active in the ultra community. We also run pretty consistently with the SLO Trail Runners listed above by Thomas. Outings will include weekend trips to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks when the snow melts! We do not have a website but you can find us on facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=12538065416

  16. Bill Susa

    Bryon,

    I'll throw the FATRUMPS [Frederick (MD) Area Trail Running Ultra Marathon Plodding Simpletons] out there for inclusion.

    We are a small, low key group of folks based out of Burkittsville, MD (remember the Blair Witch Project?) from MD, VA and WV who enjoy running the local trails. We pride ourselves in being beginner friendly and encourage anyone interested in running the trails or running their first (or 40th) ultra to join us.

    We have the Appalachian Trail, and thusly the trail section of the JFK 50 Mile, just a mile from FATRUMPS central. We also get out on the trails in Gambrill, Greenbrier and Cunningham Falls State Parks as well as Harpers Ferry and Antietam NHPs and Catoctin Mountain NP.

    The FATRUMPS have sent a strong contingent to the Burning River 100 mile since 2008 and we schedule group runs each spring/summer leading up to this run. Most 'Rumps are involved with JFK every year either as participants or volunteers. We also put on our signature event, the "DumbAss FatAss 50K" the day after JFK. This gives folks a chance to "double up" their weekend if they're so inclined and also take in some terrific local views not afforded on the JFK course.

    The only online place to find the FATRUMPS right now is:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=

    (or just search fatrumps on FB).

  17. Brittany

    VHTRC rocks! I went to my first event volunteering at MMT last year before I even ran an ultra, and the club is so freakin cool. They've somehow taken over my life, and everyone is so welcoming, laid back, and fun. Great write up! I love seeing all these other groups commenting!

  18. Roy Wells

    Highland Rim Ultrarunning Club. Middle Tennessee's only Ultrarunning Club. Weekly Trail Runs, great support, and all around great group! If ever in Nashville look us up! Happy Trails!

  19. Sibylle Tinsel

    Club Fat Ass is a outdoor sports/adventure oriented club, focused mostly on trail and ultra running. Based in Vancouver, BC Canada, but also offers events in Washington US, Edmonton AB Canada and Vancouver Island.

    Trail/ultra virgins and experts alike find mentorship, camaraderie and fun at our events. We offer about 30 member only runs and another 50 or so open to all (events are hosted on the initiative of members). All our events have a big social component with get togethers and parties.

    Our website is the online social hub for our members. There are members blogs, contests, forums. Most content is open to all and especially the blog section provides an entertaining read on a rainy afternoon.

  20. Ean Jackson

    Hi Bryon,

    For trail runners in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia in Canada, I'd like to recommend Club Fat Ass (www.clubfatass.com)

    This club offers more than 50 free runs over the course of the year. All experience levels and abilities are welcome. There's an emphasis on camaraderie over competition, mentoring and sharing as well as tearing your buddy's lungs out. All club runs are hosted by members, so each reflects the character of the event host. Distances range to the 100-miler, but since runners are encouraged to show up and run what they can on the day, it's considered good form to tag along for 10K of the 100-miler. Most events finish with a free beer.

    Why join any running club? I've been a member of many of them. The thing I like the most is the peer group. Like me, my running buddies love to run. The peer pressure keeps me on my toes: knowing my pace group will be talking about me behind my back if I don't show up for a run is the kick in the butt I need when it's cold and raining. Join a club for the camaraderie 'cause running is a lot more fun when you share it!

    Why join this club? It's fun, low-key and as competitive as you want to make it. (Several members are current or former national running team members, some have never run a marathon.) The club is actually looking to help people in other parts of the world host free runs. Something to consider for those looking to host a run for the love rather than the money…

    If you or any of your friends are in or around Vancouver Canada on Tuesday 5 April, join me for a free seminar on running ultras. My buddy Melcher and I have run over 250 of them between us and we have put together a list of 50 hints and tips we will discuss: http://www.clubfatass.com/ultra-hints-and-tips

    If you can't make it and just want the tips, email me (http://www.clubfatass.com/contact) and I'll send them to you after the seminar.

    I'm planning on being in the DC area the last week of April and would love to join you for a run. Please email me with your coords if you don't mind dragging a foreigner out into the woods and getting him lost! =;-)

  21. Tim Schlitzer

    Hi Bryon

    This is not a direct answer to your question but we do have a gathering of many Pennsylvania Trail Ultra Clubs going on this August 13. TRY ALL BY FIRE is not a race but a gathering of all the local tribes of ultra runners from the area as well as endurance distance bike riders. This is not a race, no course, no route, just a finish line for all the area clubs to gather for a party at the finish line.
    http://trychips.com/tryallbyfire/ Right now we have six ultra trail running clubs sending runners to the event. Should be fun.

    Thanks

    Tim

  22. Bill McGovern, Marat

    Ultrarunning Matters

    Established in 2009

    167 members

    This club's founder and current board reside in upstate New York, but has membership from Mass to Colorado, and Canada.

    This is a supportive camaraderie that serves runners at all levels of ability interested in ultra marathons- foot races beyond 26.2 miles (42.195 km). UM promotes the "Run Like It Matters" life style which includes this wonderful sport of self-discovery, endurance, and outdoor activity.

    The club currently sponsors three Ultra Marathon races in New York state.

    Green Lakes Endurance runs
    http://www.gleruns.org/
    Mind the Ducks 12 hour Ultra
    http://www.mtd12hour.org/
    Canandaigua 50's
    http://www.canlake50.org/

  23. Bryon Powell

    Hi Ean,
    I'm afraid that I now live out in Park City, Utah, so I won't be able to join you on your DC runs. Know that you're arriving at a great time to enjoy the trails there. Thanks for the club info.
    -Bryon

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