Weddings, birthdays, children’s births, family member’s deaths – the running group out of Runner’s Alley in Concord is there for it all.
When Brigitte Gray, the store manager, got married in 2021, members of the running group were there. A running friend, whose family is from England, now celebrates holidays with Gray or other group members. And when she went to buy her house, a running group connection helped her do so.
“They’ve integrated into my life where it’s hard to distinguish what’s work and what’s friends,” she said.
Each Thursday, a handful of runners gather outside the Runner’s Alley storefront downtown. There’s a 3-mile or 5-mile loop on offer. And they come rain or shine, sun or snow.
Winter running means headlights, reflective clothes and even micro spikes for icy or snowy nights. In the summer, the sun’s still out when the group convenes at 6 p.m.
For longtime runners, it’s a way to log weekly miles and find others heading to local races. For others, it’s a way to try something new and stay active outside. But above all, the group is an easy outlet to meet new people.
“It can be really hard as adults to make new friends and try new hobbies, but this group is very welcoming,” said Gray. “I usually describe the group like a bunch of kindergartners in the sense that they like to get to know people and meet people. They’re not clingy.”
The weekly run leaves from the store on N. Main Street and tends to repeat a set of routes around downtown. The regulars know the trails by heart. For newcomers, they’re not far from the storefront, where all runs end as well.
“If folks are worried that they’ll get left behind, we repeat a lot of routes. That’s on purpose,” she said. “But we have enough that people don’t get sick of doing the same route all the time.”
The Runner’s Alley group is one of many that meet in the Concord area. To explore the city’s 31 trails, the Concord Trail Running Group meets Wednesday nights. Their upcoming runs can be found on their Facebook group.
And for those interested in races or track workouts, the Granite State Running Team offers weekly sessions at Memorial Field in Concord on Tuesdays at 5:30. Interested participants can come to the field and try a few workouts with the team, before deciding if they want to become a member or not. Membership fees are $45 annually, and provide access to coaching and discounts at local running stores.
These organized group runs allow Concord residents of all ages and abilities to come together, work out, all while meeting new people, said Gray.
“Running is a really comfortable setting for people to talk because they don’t have to look each other in the eye and you’re outside, so it just gets all the positive endorphins flowing. It’s good for your body. It’s good for your mental health. It’s good to socialize,” she said. “I think running really does represent this community.