There's a movement afoot, literally, advanced by tribes of runners in the endurance racing scene who vehemently eschew the label of a running "club" for a more ethos-driven existence that's bonded by sweat and high on endorphins.
This is the Running Crew Movement, thriving in cities like NYC, Paris, and London, where marathons are a lifestyle and running shoes are the global equalizer. Comprised of ultramarathoners and novice runners alike, running crew members are uniquely situated at the intersection of sport, culture, and fashion. DJs run with photographers, next to artists and street wear designers, wherein cultural trends are explored through the lens of athletics. The marriage of the sport and fashion is seamless because, for them, running is a lifestyle.
"In the words of KRS One, 'You have to have style and learn to be original,'" says Charlie Dark, poet, writer, DJ, and founder of London's Run Dem Crew. "Crew" versus "club" may be a semantic difference for some, but Dark explains "running clubs are concerned solely with running and, primarily, with the fastest people in the running club, whereas 'crew' is about family first and foremost and the running is actually secondary. Crew is about supporting and elevating everyone in your crew, particularly newcomers and beginners, and making everyone the best that they can be."
The movement birthed Bridge the Gap, where crews converge on a pre-selected goal race hosted by that city's members. The culmination of each Bridge the Gap event, most recently in held in Copenhagen by the NBRO crew, is a DJ battle with a music set by each city in attendance. The ethos: train hard, run harder, and play hardest. In New York City, the BridgeRunners, founded in 2004 by downtown legend Mike Saes, charge the streets every Wednesday, pouring sweat across intersections with reflective "BR" logos emblazoned on their chests.
Irrespective of physical distance, the self-selecting running crew members have forged international bonds. As demonstrated by the running community at large, this connection was paramount after the Boston Marathon bombings. Social media platforms buzzed with the hashtag #crewlove and #bridgethegap as news ricocheted via posts from Toronto's Black Hoods, NYC's Black Roses, Moscow's RURC, and more as the news traveled. For these athletes, running is more than fitness or posturing—it's family.