Social running is growing among athletes of color in DC, and one group is leading the pack

Matt Green doesn’t run for the love of fitness. He has other motivations.

“It’s the community. It’s the connections. It’s the cool factor,” he said. “To say that I woke up one morning and loved it? No.”

And Green is not alone.

Social running groups have taken off nationwide, especially among athletes of color in D.C. And Green’s running crew, The District Running Collective, also called DRC, is leading the pack.

“We bring out anywhere from 400 to 500 a day on Wednesdays and Saturdays to runs,” he told WTOP. “The network of DRC is in the greater thousands.”

It started as a much smaller group.

Eleven years ago, Green and three other college buddies decided to complete a 5K to celebrate his birthday.

Green agreed to do the run. Although he had always played sports, he wasn’t a runner.

“If you were an athlete growing up, running was punishment,” he said. “It was, ‘Go run laps,’ or you had to do some conditioning with running.”

After that run, the four friends, who attended North Carolina A&T University, decided to run together every week.

Soon, Green’s physical fitness improved. He bought more swanky sportswear and enjoyed seeing the city in a new way: on foot.

And the runs evolved into a time to connect with others that he couldn’t pass up.

“It’s everything that’s involved with running,” he said. “It became a part of my life.”

Many people took up running during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep fit and get some social interactions in safe, open-air spaces.

Green said the DRC was also created to provide running partners for experienced athletes and a way to start for novice runners.

“It’s a nice entryway into group running,” he said. “This isn’t a race. No one is out here competing.”

With so many people showing up to run, the collective breaks runners into groups by pace and routes. Run captains open the city up to runners, leading them through different neighborhoods each week.

A walking group is in the works, Green says told WTOP.

“It’s important for us to not stay on the trails,” said Green. “You see so much more and really explore. It’s the best way to get to know the city.”

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