Front Runners New York
For more than 30 years, gay, lesbian and gay-friendly joggers have been hitting the pavement with Front Runners New York. The group supports all levels—ranging from recreational walkers to marathoners—and offers speed sessions, triathlon training and social events, such as a happy hour at the Boiler Room next month (86 E 4th St at Second Ave, 212-254-7536; Oct 1 at 6:30pm, two-for-one drinks available). Join one of the group's three weekly fun runs: Prospect Park on Tuesdays at 7pm, and Central Park at 7pm on Wednesdays and 10am on Saturdays. Annual memberships starts at $30; visit frny.org for more info.
The New York Road Runners
The New York Road Runners—a huge, umbrella organization that hosts dozens of smaller groups—visit the website to find your local club—has more than 300,000 members, who all take part in a wide range of community-service events and races, including the ING New York City Marathon on November 10. You don't have to belong to NYRR to participate in sponsored races, but it does decrease your participating entree fees: Members pay $18--$25 per event, and non-members $33--$40. With a NYRR membership, you'll also be guaranteed a spot in the NYC marathon, provided you've already run in nine NYRR races and participated in one volunteer opportunity. Annual NYRR memberships start at $40; visit nyrr.org for more info.
Brooklyn Road Runners Club
You don't have to call Kings County your home borough to belong to the BRRC: The group is also affiliated with NYRR and competes in the NYRR Team Competition, and the gang meets regularly in Prospect Park for distance jogs and speed work; it also trains four times a week (Tuesday and Thursday at 6:45pm; Saturday and Sunday at 9am). Check out its website for tips on the best places to jog in Brooklyn and to swap advice, or attend its monthly meeting the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm at Knights of Columbus Hall (Tenth Ave near Prospect Park Southwest) to listen to guest speakers, meet other racers and get the update on club activities. (You don't need to be a member to attend.) Annual membership $20; visit brooklynroadrunners.org for more info.
Central Park Track Club—New Balance
Next time you want to gear up for a race, check out the CPTC New Balance, which specializes in training athletes for national and international competitions in long-distance challenges and track and field. It offers three specific workouts led by top-notch coaches. The club caters to road runners (5Ks to marathons), track runners (800m to 10K), sprinters and hurdlers (55m to 400m) and jumpers and throwers (high jump, long jump, javelin and more). Annual memberships $125; visit centralparktc.org for more info.
New York City Hash House
The NYCHH jovially describes itself as "a drinking club with a running problem." The hashing tradition began in Malaysia in 1938, when a gang of British expats started a running association called "Hash House Harriers" in honor of their meeting place. The gents participated in a game called "Hares & Hounds," where one member was designated the "hare" and set a trail for the others ("hounds") to follow to a reward of food and ale. The tradition is alive thanks to the NYCH3, whose adventures typically start in Manhattan or Brooklyn and end in a bar, sometimes with a theme—the Annual Red Dress Run is slated for September 25. You've probably figured out what the dress code is. To participate $20 (Red Dress Run $30), includes pizza and beer; visit hashnyc.com or call 212-HASHNYC for more info.
Jeff Galloway—Olympian, Runners World columnist and designer of a low-to-medium mileage training program, which increases endurance while reducing the risk of injury—originated the method used by the GallowayNYC group for marathons. But you don't have to be a long-distance runner to join: Participants are divided into smaller groups according to their pace. The group meets on Saturday mornings at various Manhattan locales, and the training schedule consists of two days of running, two days of cross-training and one long excursion on weekends. Marathon and Half-Marathon Training Program $159 a year for new members, $99 a year for alumni; visit gallowaynyc.org for more info.
Make a difference at your next race by keeping pace with the Giraffes: The organization raises money for local, national and international charities by fund-raising for every competition it participates in, including the New York Colon Cancer Challenge and the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. "As a group, our mission is to raise funds for causes we are close to, as well as those related to a healthy lifestyle," says member Michael Forde. Though the Giraffes are technically based in northern New Jersey, the majority of their events take place in the five boroughs, since they participate in New York Road Runner contests. The crew also recently started meeting for group runs and social gatherings, like brunches and even occasional museum visits. Register for free at teamgiraffes.org.