Several Chattanooga running groups are making running social and fun

Photo by Pearl Pangkey / Pearl Pangkey takes a selfie with some of the Fleet Feet Monday-night running group.
Photo by Pearl Pangkey / Pearl Pangkey takes a selfie with some of the Fleet Feet Monday-night running group.

Need motivation to get yourself out the door and running early in the morning or at the end of the workday? Chattanooga running groups have you covered. Some groups help you explore the trails, while others make use of the roads or other urban routes for their outings. All groups welcome runners of all levels, offer various pace and distance options and have participants or leaders who help new runners navigate the course so they won't get lost. The benefits of running with a group are numerous, but comradery and safety during the run, inspiration to get out and exposure to new routes are among the main advantages.

Below is a list of options for virtually every day of the week. Some take off from pubs or breweries (which typically offer discounts for runners), and others start at local running stores.

Local nonprofit and trail-race organizer Wild Trails offers Trails to Ales every Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m. Runners meet at The Woodshop in St. Elmo (55th and St. Elmo Ave.), and most participants stick around afterwards for a beer or other beverage and something tasty from the venue's kitchen. All runs vary in difficulty, are generally around 4 miles and begin and end on a stretch of paved greenway before hitting the trails around the southern Chattanooga neighborhood. Having a group to meet, running on trails and hanging out at cool place afterwards keeps St. Elmo resident Shane Mulrooney motivated. "I was looking for a way to socialize in addition to staying in shape," he says. "Although trail running in the dark with headlamps kind of threw me at first, spending time exercising in nature with different people than I find in my regular circles is now something I look forward to every week."

Alex Keiss, coordinator of Joggers & Lagers from Chattanooga Brewing Company (1804 Chestnut St.), says their Tuesday-night group runs have been "a great way to get to know people in the active/running community, as well as the beer-loving community." Keiss adds that there are also non-alcoholic options for those who don't want a beer, and great food. And there is no pressure for people to be in the greatest shape of their lives or to treat the outing like it's a race. Many participants jog or walk.

Fleet Feet Chattanooga offers an Oddstory Pub Run from Oddstory's brewery at 1604 Central Ave. every Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. Fleet Feet owner Steve Carter leads runners and regularly has footwear vendors on hand so participants can try out new brands of shoes. As a bonus, sometimes the vendors will buy the first beer for runners who try out their shoes. The goal of the run is to bring runners and walkers together in a fun and friendly environment. This run replaced the Running for Brews group that met on the Northshore at Brewhaus until March of 2021.

Fleet Feet Chattanooga also offers several run options every week from its store at 307 Manufacturers Road, Unit 105. Monday evenings, Jennifer Carter's 6:00 p.m. outing takes a 3- to 5-mile route that varies each week. There's also a Wake Up and Run 4-mile run with Ben Mobley every Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m., a 4- to 5-mile Sunday afternoon run at 4:00 p.m. with Steven Lamar and sometimes, depending on runners' availability, a Sunday-morning run. All runs are open to anyone interested in participating.

Scenic City Trail Runners is a private group managed on Facebook, but people can simply request entry and then have access to information about weekly runs. The group meets at various locations around town and sometimes farther afield. One run leader, Kelly Edly, says the leaders' goals are to provide a welcoming environment for runners and to plan and post weekly runs and give a briefing about the course before everyone heads out.

Fast Break Athletics running store (802 Hamilton Drive) offers weekly runs on roads and urban-paved or concrete-path formats. On Friday mornings at 5:30 a.m., Kiersten Boyd leads a roughly 5-mile run for women. Boyd started the group to provide women with "a group that stays together and supports new as well as experienced female runners." Alan Outlaw's Church of the Long Run meets at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings and usually runs at least an hour, with some participants running more, according to their training goals. Both runs leave from the store. Joey Howe's Thursday-evening group meets at 6:15 p.m. at LeRoy's Bar on the Northshore (instead of from the store) and rotates through two to three routes, depending on the week.

If you're looking for a weekly or multiple-times-per-week commitment to get out for a run and to socialize, keep this list close. You've got more options than you'll have space on the calendar.

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