The Inland Northwest is a region of runners, evidenced by its many running clubs. There’s something for everyone: Elite women have the Spokane Swifts, elite men have the Spokane Distance Project, trail runners have the Trail Maniacs, and beginner and intermediate runners have several training program options with Fleet Feet. With such visible and popular groups like the Bloomsday Road Running Club (our region’s oldest) and the Flying Irish Running Club (our region’s biggest), it might be easy to overlook some of the smaller or newer clubs in the area. Happily, there are plenty of days in the week to check out these gatherings and discover new pavement to pound.
7B Running Club (Sandpoint)
“Two years ago, I started inviting local runners or to-be runners out on the trail with me and it just went from there,” says organizer Mike Ehredt.
Place and Time: 400 Woodland Drive, Sandpoint (Mickinnick Trail trailhead) at 6 a.m.
Distance: Four to 15 miles on asphalt and dirt
Participation: 12-15 people each week
Pace: Caffeinated and decaf
Vibe: Exuberant, energetic, fearless, confident, humorous
Extras: Dogs and strollers are welcome but rare. 7B hosts potlucks and running movies every couple of months. A shirt design is in the making based on mileage earned.
Lantern Tap House Running Club (Perry Street Neighborhood)
“We started the club in 2012 to bring the community together,” says owner Melinda Dolmage. “We wanted to interact with customers while doing something active and positive in the neighborhood.”
Place and Time: 1004 S. Perry Street, Spokane (Lantern Tap House) at 6 p.m.
Distance: Three- and five-mile routes
Participation: 75 runners a week
Pace: 6:30- to 14:00-minute pace
Vibe: Inclusive, good-natured, hill-loving, community-minded, thirsty
Extras: Dogs and strollers are welcome and common. Some routes include stairs, but the group creates alternative routes for those with strollers. $2.50 draft beer specials. The club t-shirt changes each year, and it’s available after five runs.
Flightless Birds (Cheney)
“Our club started in 2012 as part of the Let’s Move program in partnership with Cheney,” says organizer Danny Messina.
Place and Time: 122 College Avenue, Cheney (Zentropa Pizzeria and Pub) at 7 p.m. in July and August; 5:45 p.m. other months
Distance: Three to four miles
Participation: 20 runners a week
Pace: 9:00- to 10:00-minute pace (but some finish quicker and others walk the whole course)
Vibe: Local, friendly, relaxed, familial, fun
Extras: Dogs and strollers are welcome. Zentropa offers food and beer discounts. Runners earn a team shirt after their eighth run.
Iron Goat Running Club (Downtown Spokane)
“We created the club this May to have a place where friends and tasty beer flows,” says co-founder Ben Bersagel. “There are no TVs at the Goat because the creation of community happens when people hang out together.”
Place and Time: 1302 W. Second Avenue, Spokane (Iron Goat Brewing) at 6 p.m.
Distance: Three to five miles in and around downtown pavement, parks, and trails
Participation: 20-50 runners
Pace: Runners, walkers, and hopscotchers (all levels and abilities welcome)
Vibe: Enjoy scenic runs in and around the beautiful lilac city. Make new friends and chat up old ones while enjoying a cold one.
Extras: Well-behaved four-legged friends are welcome. Dollar-off Iron Goat beers for runners. A yet-to-be-revealed shirt will be available to runners with a set amount of runs.
High Drive Highlanders (South Hill)
“I frequent Rocket Market and noticed they installed some taps and were running $2 pint specials on Wednesdays,” says organizer Eric Enser. “I thought it might be a good place to host a run since there are plenty of options along High Drive and the South Hill Bluff.” This is the group’s third year of running.
Place and Time: 726 E. 43rd Avenue, Spokane (Rocket Market) at 6 p.m.
Distance: Three to 4.5 miles
Participation: Six to 10 runners
Pace: 6:00- to 10:00-minute pace. Routes are fairly easy to cut short and loop back to the Rocket if you get lost.
Vibe: Inconsistent, low-key, easy-going
Extras: Dogs and strollers are welcome. $2 pint specials. Evan [Sims] makes all the shirts and has come up with some creative designs.
Spokane Veggie Runners (Downtown Spokane)
“I gave up meat about five years ago and started following veggie athletes like Matt Frazier (No Meat Athlete) and Catra Corbett,” says organizer Tony DeStefano. “Last year, I decided to start my own group just for fun.”
Place and Time: 24 W. Main Avenue, Spokane (Boots Bakery) at 6 p.m.
Distance: Three miles, usually an out-and-back between Boots Bakery and Kendall Yards.
Participation: Two to 15 runners
Pace: Most walk, but runners average an 8:00-minute pace.
Vibe: Relaxed, fun, informative, easy, inclusive (anyone can come, and about half the attendees are meat-eaters)
Extras: Dogs and strollers are welcome and common. //