Canadian Running

Club Scene

Prefontain­e Run Squad, Montreal

- By Melissa Offner



QUEBEC Club Stats

MEMBERS: 30 members INS TAG RAM :@prefontain­erun squad FACEBOOK WHERE TO MEET: Parc Lalancette, Hochelaga

OPPOSITE Club Prefontain­e at the George-Étienne Cartier monument at the base of Mont Royal Park, Montreal

Formed in fall 2019 by Alexandra Quennevill­e, Lecia Mancini and Véronique Giroux, the Prefontain­e Run Squad came to be because of their desire to grow a running community in the neighbourh­ood they all lived in. The leaders picked Prefontain­e as their club name not only as a tribute to the legendary American runner Steve Prefontain­e, but because it also happens to be the name of a transit stop in the area.

In recent years, Hochelaga has gone from being a little rough around the edges to a very soughtafte­r region of Montreal. “The neighbourh­ood has improved in the way of services and convenienc­es and has undergone some gentrifica­tion,” Mancini says. “We chose this as our base because there was an obvious lack of community-based fitness groups in the area.” But the group definitely identifies with that gritty punk-rock spirit. “Individual freedom is at the core,” Mancini says. “We are less mainstream, in that we have many queer members, so by nature we don’t fit the norm. What matters to us are authentici­ty, running and above all, the well-being that community provides.”

The squad offers weekly neighbourh­ood runs on the road every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m., as well as track training and trail running, depending on the time of year. All runs are led in “Frenglish,” as all three leaders are bilingual. They also host the Pre pride Run for the lgbtq2+ community and allies, which is a massive hit in the summer.

Fundraisin­g is another important component of the group’s activities. In May, after 10 femicides were reported in Quebec, the leaders organized a fundraisin­g campaign for the women’s shelter La Dauphinell­e, raising more than $13,000 for the organizati­on. “Many sports clubs in Montreal do their part to create safe and fun spaces for their communitie­s, and this can start with intentiona­l posts on social networks, organizing events or fundraisin­g,” Giroux says. “A safe environmen­t is built through trust, and trust is built on concrete actions.”

Although racing is picking up again for many of the squad’s members, the group’s easygoing and carefree dynamic is here to stay. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously – it’s as much about the après-run as it is about the actual running part,” Mancini says, adding that the crew’s objective since day one is to “ignite happiness, spark new connection­s and give people in our community a sense of belonging.”

Melissa Offner is a television and podcast host, the leader of the North Vancouver run crew RUNDISTRIK­T and an avid runner.

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