As the saying goes, ‘birds of a feather flock together’ and so, it turns out, do runners. Participating in running clubs and crews are an increasingly popular way that Canadians are coming together in their love of running.
Reebok is a generous supporter of the running community with partnerships across the country but three stand out in clear alignment with the brand’s own philosophy and values. Each of these run crews will be profiled on IMPACT Magazine’s website in a special sponsored content feature. Here is the first in this series, as chosen by Reebok.
A chance meeting in a Toronto park three years ago, led Chanele Polenz to the Night Terrors Run Crew (NTRC), a group of more than 80 runners.
“I was out for a 2K run in a park when a big group ran by,” said Polenz. “One of the guys yelled out ‘Do you want to run with us?’ So, I joined them. The group was really friendly and I decided to just keep running [with them.]”
Engaging, outgoing crew members and a philosophy of encouraging and including everyone, no matter what their fitness or ability, is what sets this group apart.
Run Crew Leader William Chaupiz says everyone is welcome and while they encourage members to work towards setting new milestones and race achievements, the focus is not only race performance. Chaupiz says NTRC is not your average running club. In fact, he says they don’t consider themselves a club at all.
“We function like a club in that we have training programs and regular runs scheduled, but we’re way more casual,” Chaupiz says. “There’s no attendance or performance expectations like you’d get with a running club,” he explains.
NTRC’s inclusive philosophy and welcoming nature made them a great fit with Reebok, whose brand mirrors the crew’s philosophy, specifically the desire to encourage people to do their best in order to thrive physically, socially and mentally.
“I’ve worked with other brands in the past and they offered a more hardcore representation, in terms of what they wanted,” says Chaupiz. “You can lose your identity that way. With Reebok, it’s more of a collaboration than a partnership agreement. They have allowed us to stay true to our core values.”
Reebok has been a supporter of NTRC for about three years, promoting them on social media, providing a gift package for members who reach milestones and spreading their ‘no one left behind’ philosophy.
The brand also provides running shoes and apparel to crew leaders. Most of them wear one of the four Floatride silhouettes, known for its Floatride Energy Foam midsole offering lightweight responsive cushioning. They are widely available at Reebok.ca and Sportchek stores. Crew member Andre Morgan says the company has been a great fit for their crew.
“All you really need for running is a pair of running shoes,” Morgan laughed. “And once you have good shoes…”
NTRC started when a group of friends began running together in 2013. By 2016, they had developed into a more formal group and today they have 86 regular runners and others who show up sporadically.
Frederica Clerici is one of the crew’s regular runners and says she was scared to join at first, afraid of being left behind or judged.
“A close friend joined but I thought everyone would be faster than me so I hesitated. Finally, I just told myself ‘Okay, I can do this.’”
Clerici was surprised to find runners of all skill levels within the crew and she found running with a group gave her confidence. Within a year of joining, in late 2018, she ran her first 30K race and then did a half-marathon in March 2019 in under two hours. Now Clerici’s training for a full marathon later in 2019.
Crew member, Bernard Abarquez, joined NTRC after hitting a plateau with Muay Thai boxing.
“I was already doing some running and decided to put more into it,” Abarquez says. “It’s a different dynamic from boxing and I enjoy the meditative aspect of running.”
That was 2 ½ years ago. Today, he’s one of the crew guides, encouraging other runners.
NTRC member Andre Morgan says “Right off the bat the group was so accessible. “People on the runs were calling out helpful things to each other like ‘watch out a car is coming!’ And running with a group keeps you accountable. I’ll tell myself, ‘I have to go because I’ve got to race Bernard tonight!’”
Morgan felt the supportive community spirit of NTRC during his first marathon. He was close to the finish line and running out of energy. Seeing crew members right there, cheering him on, gave him an enormous boost and helped him finish the race.
A number of friendships have formed within the crew with runners going for drinks after a run or meeting up for ice cream. Andre says “We’re all friends now. Socializing has gone beyond the running.”
And that’s testament to the inclusive, genuine community NTRC has developed.