Step out your door any day in most corners of Charleston and you’ll see someone out for a jog. And at least six days a week, local runners convene in at least 10 different organized run groups ranging from serious training runs to a few drinks after a couple labored miles around a brewery.
Locals join Charleston area running clubs and groups for a multitude of reasons, but the majority show up on a weekly basis for two main reasons: accountability and social interaction.
“When you get more people together, everybody’s encouraging everyone else,” said Steve Griffin, who leads Jimp Running Club. “And sometimes, when I run by myself, I may talk myself into cutting the run short.”
The weekly cadence Charleston running groups stick to allows runners to get into a routine, and for most groups, signing up is as easy as showing up.
Several local groups like the Park Circle Pacers cater to all types of runners by hosting different-format runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays each week. Pacers co-founder Virginia Clauser calls the kid- and pet-friendly “Thirstday” 1-mile or 5K jaunt that starts and ends at Commonhouse Aleworks a “fun social run.”
“A big part of why I go to the clubs is for the social aspect,” said Erin Atkinson, a College of Charleston graduate who regularly runs with the Pacers on Thursday evenings. “Especially since the pandemic, I work from home, so it’s just kind of nice to get out of the house and see people’s faces.”
You don’t have to sign-up to join a Pacers run, but the group’s Commonhouse sponsorship provides members who pay an annual $25 fee with shirts and discounted rates on local races, a focal point for members who attend the group’s two other runs — a Tuesday track workout and a Sunday morning long run.
“That’s actually one of our most popular runs right now,” said Clauser, referring to the Sunday 5- and 8-mile sessions. “That just goes back to the reason why we started the running club — misery loves company. By providing these three weekly runs, we give everyone the chance to come run with someone.”
Fleet Feet also offers runs for folks with varying goals in mind, said Amy Minkel, who owns the running store’s three local locations in Mount Pleasant, Summerville and Carnes Crossroads.
“From the time we opened our first location in the Charleston area eight years ago, we had a run club from the beginning, starting from folks who were just looking to get off the couch to those who were training for marathons,” she said.
Runners can show up to Fleet Feet’s three locations on Monday evenings for a 3- or 5-mile run, and this fall, the store’s “Fall Pub Run Series” will feature routes that start and end at specific venues like Holy City Brewing, the location for the next 3-mile pub run Sept. 29. In addition, those looking to train for longer distances like the Bridge Run can get special training programs for $115 (including the race fee).
“If there’s a local race that we can encourage them to participate in, that’s typically what we do. It’s another way to also have that accountability,” said Minkel, who brings in local experts to make the programs. “For the bridge run, everyone is typically training for a 10K. It’s just a great way for us to support such a great local race.”
Like the pub runs, many local group runs end with a shared beer or cocktail with fellow runners, adding a social element to the exercise. The Charleston Beer Runners start at Hampton Park before finishing at a different bar or brewery every week, while breweries like Frothy Beard, Low Tide and Estuary Beans & Barley host their own runs.
For runs that conclude with a cold beer, make sure you pack a large water, and some may want to consider bringing along a spare shirt to change into (this City Paper writer recalls a muggy outing with Charleston Beer Runners that ended at Faculty Lounge).
A little perspiration didn’t stop Amy Embry from meeting her future husband, Aaron, at Taco Boy after a 2017 Charleston Beer Runners meetup. Amy, an O.G. member of the 7-year-old group, says joining “was one of the best things I ever did.”
“[Aaron] started running with us every week, and then he proposed to me during a run,” Amy recalled. “I think back then there were maybe 10-15 people in the group — other than that, I’ve never been in a running group before. I used to be a very shy person. I didn’t like to run.”
Now married, the couple still attends Charleston Beer Runners regularly, and Aaron works as the point person for the group’s cultural and community initiatives. He says CBR makes a concerted effort to make the group a place for everyone.
“Because so much of running is about community, I think running groups need to make sure that they’re diverse and inclusive,” he said. “It’s all about community, and it’s all about building each other up.”
The local running community has, of course, been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Griffin, who has yet to restart Jimp, which normally runs a 5-mile route that starts at The Aquarium parking garage.
For now, Griffin meets a group of four at 5:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Colonial Lake. They run the bridge once a week, and Griffin plans to complete the Bridge Run. He looks forward to restarting Jimp when the time is right.
“It was always fun meeting new people. Every time we’d meet, we would never know who was showing up, so it was always good to introduce Charleston running to them,” he said. “I miss that for sure.”
Charleston Area Running Clubs
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 6 a.m.
This new group meets three times a week at a location disclosed the day before the run. Follow The Outsiders! on Instagram @outsiders.charleston.
Jimp Running Club
Mondays and Wednesdays, 5 p.m.
When the group restarts Monday and Wednesday runs, it will meet at the Aquarium parking garage.
Fleet Feet Running Club
Mondays, 6:30 p.m.
Meet at stores in Mount Pleasant, Summerville or Carnes Crossroads every Monday night for a 3- or 5-mile route.
Frothy Beard Get Fit Run Club
Mondays, 6:30 p.m.
Frothy Beard’s Get Fit Run Club is free, and no sign-up is necessary. Go at your own pace and stay for a beer or two at the West Ashley brewery, where runners will get $1 off each pint.
Park Circle Pacers
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:15 p.m.
Sundays, 8:30 a.m.
Park Circle Pacers meet twice weekly for runs hosted by Commonhouse Aleworks. The group’s Thursday beer runs feature 1-mile and 5K routes, and on Sundays, the Pacers meet for longer runs (5- or 8-miles). The Pacers meet Tuesdays for speed workouts at the Danny Jones track.
Charleston Running Club
Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.
The Charleston Running Club meets outside Bar Mash at the Cigar Factory on East Bay Street. There’s a walking group, pace jogging group and 9-minute pace run group up the Ravenel Bridge and back.
Ad Astra Endurance Project
Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m.
Ad Astra Endurance Project hosts a Wednesday night run with 2- and 3-mile options at Low Tide Brewing.
Ethos Athletic Club
Thursdays, 5:30 p.m.
Owner Joey Welling organizes a weekly run that starts and ends at 311 Huger St.
Charleston Beer Runners
Thursdays, 7 p.m.
All-levels of 21-and-over runners meet at the Hampton Park gazebo, running 3-5 mile runs to different bars.
Our Sunday Run
Sundays, 9 a.m.
Meeting in the Hampton Park parking lot, the 8-mile route loops the peninsula.