Tribe Run Crew, Toronto
Toronto’s Tribe Run Crew started with five solo runners meeting up because of a single Tweet. Today, the downtown community connects thousands of runners on social media, and during weekly runs
Say what you want about social media – that we’re all becoming slaves to the likes, glued to our phones, conditioned to respond to a beep from our pocket immediately – but sometimes, something really beautiful can happen through it. Tribe Run Crew was born out of single tweet in 2013, when avid runner, cyclist and yoga instructor Heather Gardner asked if anyone wanted to join her for a run. Five people met her at the red canoe in Canoe Landing Park in Toronto. Now, Tribe has well over 2,000 followers on Facebook and Gardner has opened a physical studio space to support the group’s meet-ups and offer cycling and yoga classes. The run crew, however, remains free of charge. Prior to opening the physical studio space, Tribe was averaging 150 free workouts per year, most of which were lead by Gardner herself, and occasionally, a fellow yoga-instructor friend. The group now partners with Canada Running Series to offer a couch-to-5k program, in which members of the crew mentor new runners. When Keri Wong began running in 2015, she ran exclusively by herself. She’d seen Tribe running along Toronto’s waterfront trails, and noticed the group on social media. By 2017, she was ready to try out running with other people. “I almost talked myself out of going,” she admits. “It was a Saturday morning 10k followed by brunch. But I told myself, ‘ just show up.’ Now, a year later, those run-to-brunches just make my Saturday mornings. I feel like I don’t just belong to a running community, I also feel like I belong more to the community that I live in.”
In September, Wong will be travelling to Germany with other members of Tribe to run the Berlin Marathon.
Ravi Singh also found community through Tribe, though admittedly, kind of by accident.
“When I first got into running in 2012, I’d only run a few races, including a half-marathon in 2013. But I’d heard about the Around the Bay 30k and really wanted to do it – only I had no idea how to work up to that distance.” Singh had started following a lot of runners on Twitter and saw someone posting about Tribe. “I ended up joining them for an 18-kilometre run on the Martin Goodman Trail in crazy wind when it was not really plowed,” Singh says. From that moment, he was committed to the group.
Singh recommends that runners who are thinking about trying out a crew ask themselves what they’re hoping for out of a group.
“Stay open-minded,” says Singh. “Maybe it’s a fit, maybe it’s not. Know who you are as a runner and what you want out of a group. If you’re a beginner runner wanting support, look for that. If you’re in it for improvement, look for something more performance-based. What do you want – community? company? proper training?” A crew, he says, can offer all those things. Caela Fenton is a staff writer at Canadian Running.