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 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. Ean Jackson

    Hi Bryon,

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

    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: [broken link removed]

    If you can't make it and just want the tips, email me ( 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! =;-)

  2. 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. Right now we have six ultra trail running clubs sending runners to the event. Should be fun.



  3. 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
    Mind the Ducks 12 hour Ultra
    Canandaigua 50's

  4. 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.

  5. Louisville Trail Run

    Trail Runners of Louisville

    Covers Louisville, Kentucky and includes runners from the northern Kentucky and southern Indiana regions (Kentuckiana).


    Wide range of abilities from beginners to experienced ultrarunners.

    Sponsored by the Louisville Trail Store ( which hosts an annual trail race series beginning in May and running through November. Races are monthly and vary from 5 milers to a half marathon. Non-series races include the Bernheim Forest Trail Marathon (new for 2011) in June. Additional information can be found at

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