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Photograph: Ramsey Lujan

The 13 best run clubs in Chicago

Whether you’re training for a marathon or just in it for finish-line beers, join up for encouragement and camaraderie.

Allison Yates
Written by
Allison Yates
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Chicago is a city of runners, and there’s no better indication than the dozens of neighborhood running groups throughout the city. While Chicago boasts many longstanding running groups, the pandemic ushered in a sudden boom of new local running organizations focused on everything from morning brews to greater visibility for runners of color. While each group has a different vibe—whether it's chasing speed or running so you can grab coffee, hang out on a patio or indulge in breweries—the common thread is a deep sense of community and inclusivity where everyone feels welcome to run or roll in community. So no matter if you run to connect with new people, train for a marathon or simply get outside year round, check out these run clubs in Chicago. 

Chicago area running clubs

Neighborhood: Hyde Park 

GumboFit was founded in May 2019 to bring everyday Black and Brown athletes on the South Side together through movement, primarily running. GumboFit offers weekly and, season depending, twice weekly runs. Since its inception, runners have been offered special opportunities like 20-week comprehensive guided marathon training programs, team racing opportunities and access to gear drops through Nike Chicago. Beyond running, other personal and professional development have been available to members, including wellness and recovery events, sports photography fellowships, RRCA running coach certifications and more. Follow GumboFit on Instagram for the latest news and run times and locations. Tuesdays at 6:30pm (season depending) and Saturday mornings.

Neighborhood: Pilsen 

As a kid, David Pascal Ruiz spent a lot of time visiting the Pilsen neighborhood where his father grew up. After Ruiz’s father passed away, he founded Tortugas (”turtles” in Spanish, and the same name his mother use as a team name in 5K races with her sisters) and planned the run club’s weekly two-mile route to pass by his father’s childhood home, church and meaningful spots as a way to honor the neighborhood and his dad’s legacy. Members are invited to walk, jog or run and most weeks you’ll find runners hanging out after the run in Harrison Park laughing, socializing and hosting pitch-ins. Sundays at 10am.

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Neighborhood: Bronzeville

Seven miles, at 7am, every Sunday: If you’re not a morning person, meet this joyful and supportive community and you’ll quickly change your mind. Co-founders Aaron Ingram, Ian Gonzalez (of Last Lap Corner Store in Bronzeville) and Craig Taylor all founded the group for varying reasons, but the overlapping idea was to bring more visibility to Black and Brown runners on the South Side and serve and inspire members of the Bronzeville neighborhood. Runners also meet Tuesday mornings for a “Blue Bridge Tuesdays Workout” at William Davis Park’s 41st Street Pedestrian Bridge. Tuesdays at 6:15am and Sundays at 7am

Neighborhood: Little Village 

Viento Little Village Run Club (LVRC) has been motivating and empowering the Little Village community to create a safe space for all to walk, jog and run for more than 10 years. What started out as four friends—founders Cristina Carreto, Yesenia Mariscal, Carmen Vergara and Jess Vergara–has grown into a familia of runners of all paces. This bilingual group (Spanish/English) meets three times a week from the mural at 26th and South Central Park Avenue. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm, and Sundays at 7am.

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Neighborhood: Pilsen 

The Pilsen-based, family-friendly group Venados Running Club (“deer” in Spanish, a name that original members can’t recall the origins of) has been a Chicago staple for decades. With the motto “on the run since ‘81,” this group hosts weekly Wednesday runs from Lo Rez Brewing. After running 3-5 miles, runners stick around for social time and beer. All paces are welcome. Wednesdays at 7pm.

Neighborhood: Logan Square 

As one of the OG neighborhood run crews, many clubs in the city look to 3Run2 for its model of creating community among runners. Initially starting as a way for runners in Logan Square and Humboldt Park to train and connect, this group brings people from varying neighborhoods and paces to run 4-mile or 6-mile routes twice per week. First-time runners are asked to register on Eventbrite ahead of time. All route details and information is shared at the beginning of the run. Tuesdays at 7pm and Thursdays at 6:30pm.

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Neighborhood: South Loop and North Side 

Rainbow Run & Roll is a community for BIPOC runners, rollers, walkers or anyone who wants to incorporate movement into their day. Focusing on accessibility and inclusivity, the group is appropriate for all levels. Those new to running or rolling in groups will find an especially welcoming and non-intimidating setting to test the waters. Weekly runs are on both the north and south sides of the Lakefront Path for around 45 minutes. Organizers are dedicated to ensuring accessibility for all, so if anyone has specific needs they can contact them ahead of time. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7pm.

Neighborhood: West Town and other locations 

Every Friday morning this group of runners of all levels meets at a new coffee shop in the city at 6:40am. Referencing organizer Patrick Dwyer’s basketball background, runners take turns each week ripping off snap pants to signify the start of the easy-paced run, which usually finishes around three miles. Runners stick around the coffee shop post-sweat for brews (the morning kind!) and social time. Fridays at 6:40am.

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Neighborhood: Midway 

This Latinx-women-run group started in 2013 and has been welcoming runners of all levels in the Midway area ever since. Besides training together, Midway Mile Chaser Run Club runners have a strong dedication to bettering the surrounding community–founders and coaches Celia and Martin Corral often organize races and events to raise money for local nonprofits and small businesses struggling during the pandemic. Details on meet up locations, mileage and routes are shared in their private Facebook group. Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 6am.

Neighborhood: Humboldt Park 

Each Tuesday at 6:30am, runners of all paces meet at Atmos Coffee in Humboldt Park for a  3-mile route through the park and back. You’ll hear encouragement, small talk and great music from fellow runners. Run leaders direct along the way to make sure no runner gets lost. The halfway point–the top of Bunker hill overlooking the baseball diamond and skyline–means a quick stop for photos and cheering on other runners before looking forward to coffee. Tuesdays at 6:30am.

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Neighborhood: Bucktown 

If your reason for running is to meet new people rather than push for a PR, the 606 Athletic Club is a non-intimidating environment for running and socializing around post-run drinks at Lottie’s Pub in Bucktown. Since February 2013 this group has brought folks together for a 3-mile run in Bucktown (including some time on the Bloomingdale Trail). During the summer, runners also meet Thursdays for easy runs and drinks at a different patio. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm.

Neighborhood: Lakeview 

If you’ve seen more than a hundred people running through Lakeview on a Tuesday night, chances are you’ve spotted Lakeview Run Club. At the start of the pandemic, one of the founders, Ben Sussman, wanted a COVID-conscious way for other runners to socialize in a non-competitive environment. Runners’ paces range from six minutes per mile up to 13 minutes per mile—and power walkers are welcome, too—so whatever type of runner you are, you'll find good company. Mileage options include 1.5-5 miles. Tuesdays at 6:30pm

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Neighborhood: Garfield Park 

Lululemon ambassador and Chicago Leadership Fellow Jackie Hoffman founded the nonprofit Peace Runners 773 in 2020 with the aim of improving the health and vitality of Garfield Park residents. Each Saturday, free community workouts include a 3-mile run or walk, strength and a lot of high fives. Expect hugs, lots of encouragement—the best arguably coming from the senior citizen athletes, affectionately called The Young at Hearts—and gratitude circles. Saturdays at 9am.

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