Yamajo Run Crew, Montreal
Inclusion, brunching and giving back is the name of the game with the Yamajo Run Crew
Members of this Montreal-based club don’t what Yamajo means, but its tagline “Crew Love” is what this group is all about. The crew began in March, 2014, when two runners, David Joseph and Daphné Exantus, who, having completed a Spartan Race, logged their mileage and posted their runs on social media for fun. Reaching new milestones, getting faster and the camaraderie during and after runs motivated Joseph and Exantus, so they kept going, which ultimately led to the creation of the Yamajo Run Crew. “Yamajo” thrives on inclusion, embracing every kind of runner, from beginners to seasoned speedsters alike. Their weekly runs on Wednesdays and Saturday are divided into two, sometimes three groups to accommodate varying speeds and distances. Everyone starts and ends together. To get the full Yamajo experience, Saturday post-run brunch is a must. Friendships form and strengthen as barriers are broken over brunching. The Crew values showing up for each other, no matter what. This means cheering from the sidelines at 6 am races, when you can’t race yourself, finding as much joy in a Yamajo crewmate’s success as your own, and pacing a Yamajo crew mate to a PB in a marathon.
Looking back, Joseph says that it’s hard to believe they initially started out with no concrete plan, other than a desire to be more like a family than a traditional run club. Since then, Yamajo has developed a reputation as a welcoming community within the Montreal running scene.
Beyond pounding the pavement together, Yamajo Run Crew recently launched a partnership with the Little Burgundy Community Centre in Montreal. Kids play more typical sports, such as basketball, football and soccer at the centre, but they also hike, camp, create art and podcasts, all of which the children had never experienced until Yamajo’s involvement. In exchange, Yamajo uses the Little Burgundy Community Centre to meet as a group before and after runs.
Going into their fifth year now, Yamajo should continue to make noise within Canada’s running scene with their unique vibe and positive impact in their community.