Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The Forks Five: five running groups that anyone can join

Have you noticed the increase of people wearing fanny packs, visors and sporty clothes at The Forks? Pretty much every day of the week you’ll find a group of people running. Or if they aren’t running, you’ll see them slightly sweatily hanging out post run! Quite literally, hundreds of people meet every week, to get together and run at The Forks.

I love this. I lead a group myself. It makes sense: the paths are beautiful and plentiful, they connect to many different communities making every run different and interesting, and who doesn’t love having a place like The Common to hang out post run?

It’s Global Run Day on June 6th and Lululemon has invited all Winnipeg run clubs to come together for a big giant  ‘Let Your Mind Run Free’  run at The Forks. Meet up at 6pm at Oodena Circle. Everybody is welcome!

It got me wondering, who are all these other runners at The Forks? What’s their group like? Can anybody join? When do they meet? How far do they run? So many questions! To get some answers, I tracked down FIVE different groups to share with you (including a self interview) to find out the vibe of each group.  I hope you can find a group that matches your vibe to inspires you to get out with some new people for a run. It feels so good.

BridgeForks Running, Junel Malapad
When: Tuesdays at 5:30pm
Where: Forks Market elevators

LS: Who is your running group geared toward? Can anyone join?
JM: BridgeForks Running is geared to any level and any experience runner.  Anyone can join. There is no registration. Just show up.

LS: When and where do you guys meet? Do you run year round?
JM: Currently we've been meeting near the Esplanade Riel Bridge. In colder weather we typically meet in front of the elevator in The Forks market near The Common.   I post changes of the meeting point weekly.

We run all year round. Winnipeg runners are a hardy bunch! 

LS: What is a typical run for you guys?
JM: I lead the  runs for this group. They are typically a nice and easy 7km and also a 5km option is also offered. The route changes weekly to take advantage of what the Forks area has to offer for different run routes.  People can find the new route posted the day before or in the morning of.

LS: What’s your run group vibe?
JM: The vibe is laid back and leisurely pace. There are different paces and typically I lead the group for a bit and then fall back to run with the new runners that are at  the end.

After the run, the easy laid back feel is continued over a beverage and something to eat in the Common. Runners are more than welcome to stick around and chat about anything.

LS: If your run group had a signature running song, what would it be?
JM: The group's signature song would be "We're here for a good time" by Trooper

LS: Do or don’t:

Visor: do

Fanny Pack: do

LS: If someone wants to join, what do they do?
JM: They just need to find our post on Instagram and Facebook. We are a very welcoming crew and always happy to meet new runners. We meet and greet at 5:30pm and run at 5:45pm right after a group photo.


Inn at the Forks / Run Concierge: Maria Cefali
When: Tuesday 6:30 am, Wednesday 6:30am May - October
Where: Inn at The Forks

LS: Who is your running group geared toward? Can anyone join?
MC: Our 5K guided run is an exclusive running experience for guests of the Inn at the Forks. It was created as a way to give guests a unique downtown Winnipeg experience, with a fitness component. The guided run allows guests to explore downtown, to see various tourist attractions and streets, all within walking distance from the hotel that they can later re-visit on their own.

For business travellers, the opportunity to participate on this run allows them to stay committed to their fitness schedule while travelling. Plus, it allows them to get outside for some fresh air, before a busy and possibly long work day.

We want guests to leave our city having experienced true Winnipeg pride. What better way to do that than by spending time with a Winnipeg ambassador who has a background in tourism and  who shares their passion for running and exploring cities, all while they stay at one of the city’s best local boutique hotels.

LS: When and where do you guys meet? Do you run year round?
MC: Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 6:30am, between May – October, guests of the Inn at the Forks meet in the lobby and join me for a guided run of downtown Winnipeg.

LS: What is a typical run for you guys?
MC: Because I want to give the hotel guests a unique tour of downtown and close surroundings, I take them on a route that allows them to see at least seven of our tourist attractions which I speak to – from St Boniface and the Cathedral, to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Shaw Park, the Exchange District, Portage and Main, Bell MTS Place and the streets of the whiteout party, which got a lot of media exposure and put our city on the map over the past month thanks to our Winnipeg Jets;  Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Legislative grounds.

LS: What’s your run group vibe?
MC: So far, we’ve had experienced runners join us. These are runners who can complete a 5K in approximately 35 minutes.

What we’ve found is runners who are committed to their running schedule are the ones to get up early to complete a 5K run no matter the city. Also, business travellers need to keep the distance short and the pace quick because for them, this is the beginning of their workday, and they need to get back to the hotel in a timely manner.
Now, having said that, if a newer runner is interested in joining us, we will definitely welcome them and accommodate their pace. 

LS: If your run group had a signature running song, what would it be?
MC: Hmm…I’d have to say we have two. The first is ‘Good Vibrations’ by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. That song always gets me on the dance floor, and just as pumped to kick off a run. I like to think we’re giving off good vibrations while we’re running through our downtown streets!  Besides, it’s a fun song to dance to at stop lights when you’re waiting to cross. Keeps the heart rate going!

And of course, the second song is the Rocky theme song, for when we do the stairs at the Manitoba Legislative building.

LS: Do or don’t: Visor and fanny pack.

MC: Whatever helps to enjoy the run! Personally, I don’t like having extra accessories or clothing on me while I run. I don’t run with a hat or a visor, and my Flip Belt is a nice snug band around my hips that holds everything I need for a 5K, 10K, or 21.1K. 

LS: If someone wants to join, what should they do?

MC: They should book themselves for at least one night at the Inn at the Forks, over a Monday or Tuesday night to join for a morning run the following day. Then take in the Riverstone Spa afterwards for a day of pampering, and enjoy a lovely dinner at SMITH! Whether you’re from out of town, or not, it’s a great way to experience Winnipeg!

WINNIPEG RUN CLUB: Jonathan Torchia
When: Saturday 8am
Where: The Forks

LS: Who is your running group geared toward? Can anyone join?
JT: Winnipeg Run Club is geared for ALL LEVELS! There is no required pace. There is no judgment! We pride our selves on being very inclusive to all levels of runners!

Doesn’t matter if you run a 6:00/mile or a 15:00/mile, everyone is welcomed with open arms and equally.  WRC is open to wheel chair participants and we LOVE our dogs too!

Winnipeg Run Club is geared towards all sorts of runners, from beginners to experienced runners!

LS: When and where do you guys meet? Do you run year round?
JT: We meet every Thursday night at 6:00pm at the Assiniboine Park Duck Pond and every Saturday morning art 8:00am at the Forks.

We run all 365 days of the year!

We offer complimentary clinics, and fun events through out the year.

LS: What is a typical run for you guys?
JT: We offered a 10km, 5km, and a 3km. We change up our routes often to keep things fresh!

All runs have a leader at the front, someone typically in the middle, and someone at the very end to ensure no one gets left behind.

LS: What’s your run group vibe?
JT: Smiles, laughter, social interaction, positive, encouraging, motivating and inspiring. We welcome everyone. You get a warm feeling as soon as we say “ is it anyone’s first time out to run club?” and everyone claps there hands and welcomes the new person! That’s the kind of group we are!

LS: If your run group had a signature running song, what would it be?

LS: Do or don’t:

Visor: If that’s your jam, then do it!

Fanny Pack:  They are all the rave now! DO!

LS: If someone wants to join, what should they do?
JT: Come on out on either Thursday night or Saturday morning. And remember you are welcome, don’t feel intimidated.
Follow us on Instagram and Facebook as we post all of our routes, special announcements and info on the routes for that day!


Frontrunners: Wally Mah
When: Saturday 9am
Where: Neon Cone

LS: Who is your running group geared toward? Can anyone join?
WM: Our running group is geared towards the LGBT2SQ+ community, but allies are accepted as well. We welcome all levels of running. Anyone may join and the best part is membership is free!

LS: When and where do you guys meet? Do you run year round?
WM: We meet by the elevator next to the ice-cream shop Neon Cone every Saturday at 9:00 am. We start our running season in the spring and end in the fall. We hibernate in the winter, but sometimes we have a pop-up run.

LS: What is a typical run for you guys?
WM: We run several different trails from The Forks. Due to the various abilities of our members, we break up into different groups. We run between thirty to sixty minutes that span between four to ten kilometers.

LS: What’s your run group vibe?
WM: Easy and sociable! We always meet up afterwards for coffee in The Forks Market.

LS: If your run group had a signature running song, what would it be?
WM: Hmm…so many to choose from, but let’s say “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. As I always say to tentative prospective members, just “come out!” We’re just loads of fun.

LS: Do or don’t:

Visor: Don’t

Fanny Pack: DEFINITELY don’t.

LS: If someone wants to join, what should they do?
WM: Shoot an e-mail to Wally at Instagram @winnipeg_frontrunners Facebook:

#forkslearntorun: Lindsay Somers
When: Sundays 9:30 am, Wednesdays 6pm
Where: Under the Canopy

(yes, I am going to interview myself)
LS: Who is your running group geared toward? Can anyone join?
LS: Absolutely, anybody can join! This is an eight week paid learn to run program. Whether you’ve never run before, haven’t run in years or are wanting some accountability and support in running - we’ve got you! We start so slow, mostly walking. Then we add bits of running AKA dance walking. Building your endurance over an eight week period training for a 5K race. There are spring, fall and winter sessions that you must register for.

LS: When and where do you guys meet? Do you run year round?
LS: Our meeting place depends on the season. Right now, it’s nice out, so we meet under the canopy! We definitely run year round! Spring session: April + May, Fall session: September + October, Winter session: January + February.

LS: What is a typical run for you guys?
LS: In our eight week program we progress from 3K to 5K. We start slowly with mostly walking and little spurts of our signature “dance walk” and build up our endurance (mentally and physically) from there. We encourage A LOT of talking and run buddies. We are a very social group. We explore the trails around The Forks, The Exchange, St Boniface, Assiniboine Ave and Point Douglas. Exploring different parts of the city is part of our run experience.

LS: What’s your run group vibe?
LS: VERY relaxed. First rule of #forkslearntorun is to have fun. We never talk about numbers, pace or times. It is about making a commitment to get outside in all weather and move your body. A big success of #forkslearntorun is the connections people have made. We have had couples come out of run club and many genuine friendships have been made through running that continue outside of run club.  A big perk of meeting at The Forks is that is is always so easy to hang out at The Common post run. Sundays we drink coffee from Fools and Horses and eat cinnamon buns from Tall Grass Prairie. Wednesdays are railers from The Common and pizza from Red Ember. We kind of are a beer and pizza run club.

Every Wednesday we have a guest run coach that shares their running lifestyle to help inspire us to think about all the different ways running can become a lifestyle. Guest coaches also share their top three running tips. We also do a special ‘yoga for runners’ class and complete 50ish squats together before every run.

LS: If your run group had a signature running song, what would it be?
Easy Like Sunday Morning by Lionel Richie.

LS: Do or Don’t:

Visor: DO! As a not reliable sunscreen applier, this is IDEAL for sun protection on your face. Also: it’s basically a topless hat, so you get the shade AND a cool head. Bonus: great for keeping bangs and hair out of your face while you run. I secretly wish I could wear a visor all the time.

Fanny pack: DO! I hate carrying anything on a run. (I’ve been known to hide keys in bushes outside my apartment) In summer running, we generally don’t have as many pockets. A fanny pack is pretty much one giant pocket you can easily put everything in: keys, wallet and phone.

LS: If someone wants to join, what should they do?
Next eight week #forkslearntorun session starts up in September. Email to get on the mailing list.

So many run clubs to join! Any of them inspire you to put on a visor and take your first step?


Other posts that might interest you:


  1. Thank you very much for this great post.
    mens fanny pack

  2. Only downsides at event space here was that I’m not sure if they were expecting such a crowd as they did not have nearly enough servers and sometimes it would take a really long time for service guy to come. But they tried to keep a smiles on their face.