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Coogee Run Club – Keeping it social in Sydney, Australia…

Posted by Lydia Burdett

Regularly seen running along Sydney’s stunning coastline, the Coogee Run Club has evolved into a thriving community dedicated to fitness, fun, and friendship. We talked to co-founder Tara, to discover the inspiring journey of how they began…

How did the Coogee Run Club start?

After years of hitting the gym and group fitness classes, I was inspired by my mum to get into running in 2017. I was living in London at the time and Mum had been taking part in parkrun in Perth, Western Australia. She was visiting me and we were spending a weekend in Cambridge when I joined parkrun for the first time and just fell in love with the running community! Once back in London, I became a regular parkrunner, also encouraging my friends to join me every Saturday.

After months of pounding the ground, I set myself a new challenge – to complete a half marathon before my 30th birthday. After the Royal Parks Half in 2018, I ended up signing up to two more races by the time my birthday rolled around – the London Landmarks Half and Hackney Half. I was officially hooked and so glad I had found a sport I loved when the pandemic hit in 2020.

Two years later, I was living back home in Perth and found myself a new family within the Perth Run Collective – a local run club that ran a training session every Tuesday. Utterly inspired by the club and the dedication and friendliness of its members, I began to look for a run club to join when I moved to Sydney in April 2022. However, living right by Coogee Beach, I was shocked to find out that there were no run clubs nearby. Searching desperately on Facebook, I came across another local runner, Hannah, and in May 2022, just weeks after my arrival in Sydney, Hannah and I launched the Coogee Run Club.

On our very first night, 24th May 2022, we had one runner show up. On Tuesday night, 9th January 2024, we had our biggest turnout with 255 runners. We now run five times a week (including at Centennial parkrun on Saturdays – there was no way I was giving my first love up!) with over 2,000 members and almost 10,000 followers on Instagram, and I could not be prouder! The growth has been insane and I truly believe that’s because we offer something different. We aren’t just a run club. In fact, we love to say that we’re a social club with a bit of running on the side because it’s never just been about running for us. It’s about building a community, creating a tribe, welcoming people of all abilities, supporting local businesses, and giving back when we can.

Tell us more…

After every run, we encourage everyone to stick around for a swim, coffee, breakfast, drink, or dinner – depending on which run they’re at. And then we will literally hang out for hours because we seem to have brought together the best humans you could meet. We also work to support local businesses by forming partnerships with hospitality companies – whether it’s Morning Glory Cafe for our post-run coffee and breakfast on a Thursday and Sunday morning, Fishbowl for dinner on a Tuesday night, or the Coogee Bay Hotel for our monthly Sweaty Bevvies, a post-run drink following our Newbies Night which happens on the second Tuesday of the month. We also have a strong relationship with The Running Room for any physio needs.

I also love to get our runners moving their bodies in different ways, and highlighting all the amazing businesses out there, by teaming up with local gyms, trainers, studios, physios etc to host us for a free session. We’ve done boxing, PT, Pilates, yoga, boot camp and more! It’s a fantastic way to expose our members to new exercises that will complement their running, while cross-pollinating with experts in the exercise field.

Finally, we love to give back where we can! Since our launch, we have ‘taken over’ the Centennial parkrun on nine occasions, filling every volunteer role on the roster to give the regulars a break and bring some of the Coogee Run Club spirit to the community. We also love to get involved with beach clean-ups and have four of those scheduled for this year so we can use our friendly force for good!

How can people prepare to run their first 5k?

Firstly, find a run crew because running with others is the best exercise. Not only will their epic vibes spur you on and keep you going, but their excitement will have you coming back each week! Secondly, shrug off the nerves and try to take the pressure off yourself. If you need to stop and walk, no big deal. Just keep your body moving and you’ll get better each day.

 

What are the impacts to physical and mental health from running as a large group?

The impacts are astronomical. We’ve literally seen our runners become the healthiest, happiest versions of themselves right in front of our eyes! From weight loss to toning and building up those muscles, running is one of the most transformative sports – not to mention the mental benefits. Being out on a run, surrounded by like-minded folk, is not only empowering and encouraging but running as a group totally talks your mind off the kilometres and hills as you chat up a storm with your new run club mates. Because we’re not just about the fitness, we’re about the social side too, and building a community where everyone can feel like they belong.

What’s your best advice to encourage people to start running?

Don’t overthink it and don’t downplay your ability. Running is often just about overcoming that voice in your head that says you can’t. Move one foot in front of the other and feel the enjoyment radiate through your body. If you need to, take it slow and easy. Running doesn’t have to be about pushing yourself to go further or faster or up a bigger hill. You need to fall in love with moving your body, feeling the air whip around your face and your heart race. And being able to do that with a pack of legends? Well, that’s the best part!

 

What’s your best advice to people who want to pursue their own running goals?

Find your tribe. A goal is tough, but a shared goal creates a community of enthusiasm. A crowd of people that are going to push you, lift you up, and cheer you on.


Find more from Coogee Run Club online and via their socials: @thecoogeerunclub on Instagram, @coogeerunclub on Facebook, and Strava.