They regularly take to the streets under the cover of night, they ride as one and they’re uniting their individual, city-based, projects into an international movement. Running crews are a force and they’re not stopping until everyone has crossed the finish line.
In a surprisingly short amount of time, the running crew movement has grown to be part of an international network. Connected through Bridge The Gap, a community of running groups from all over the world, they come together as a united social and creative movement that aims to do more than just run.
Crew culture puts emphasis on common values and connecting people, so social events outside of their runs are important. Plus, training for months at a time for highly taxing races earns you the right to let your hair down every once in a while. This is why Urbanears Active has partnered with running crews from all over the world on a series of parties hosted in six different cities around Europe. Each Rundown Event will take place after a local run through the city and aims to connect the global crew community. At an Urbanears Rundown party following the Hackney half marathon we spoke to some of the UK’s crew captains.
The captain of London Brunch Club, Stephen Adjaidoo, summarized the Rundowns as, “a great way to celebrate both individual and collective achievements.” The parties bring together runners from the community’s many international branches, celebrating their collective accomplishments and common passions. “We think this supportive crew culture is just amazing,” says Sofia Hjelm, brand manager at Urbanears. “And the individuals who are part of it represent what Urbanears Active is all about— a bunch of creative, colorful personalities who also happen to be great athletes.”
Speaking on the project, Charlie Dark, founder of London’s Run Dem Crew, told us, “Urbanears have an understanding of crew culture, they’re respectful of it, they try to help us grow too, rather than just focusing on themselves. Plus, as someone who makes music and runs to music, they make a great product.”
Charlie and Run Dem Crew came up time and time again as an inspiration and a uniting force. The story of Run Dem epitomizes the tale of many of the crews, “We wanted to build a creative platform for our friends in Manchester,” Ciaran of Still Waters explained. “Bringing some of the energy, that Run Dem Crew had successfully captured in London, up North”
Sick and tired of his career in the music industry, Charlie Dark needed an escape. While some would have fallen into a slump and put up with the misery, Charlie started running. “I fell in love with running,” Charlie told us. “But I felt something was missing, I felt I wanted to share it with people.” This is how Run Dem Crew started. In the early days, it was just him and five friends, they couldn’t run very fast or very far. Nine years later, Run Dem Crew has hundreds of members and an endless collection of medals.
Social media played a huge part in growing the movement. “It kicked off at a time when Twitter and Instagram were first popping off, so it became easy to share what we were doing and the things we were doing when we weren’t running,” explained Charlie. It wasn’t just about sharing ridiculous run times and the ripped bodies these guys had crafted through fitness. It was about sharing achievable goals, celebrating real people with real lives and giving them confidence. Urbanears wanted to capture this same ethos in their Active range, “being a runner or being active doesn’t have to be some unattainable, elitist thing, but part of an everyday lifestyle,” added Sofia Hjelm.
As running crew culture spread and more crews popped up in different cities, Charlie and the other captains united the network: “We all keep each other on point. Bridge The Gap was always about bringing people together so that we could learn from each other,” which helps to explain why the Rundown events are so successful.
Most importantly the movement is a way of connecting people offline, in the physical world. The captains agreed that, on a grander scale, crew culture isn’t really about running at all. Running is the common thread that brings people together and allows them to share their stories, connecting them with people that they might not usually have the opportunity to meet, members spanning everyone from business owners and creative freelancers to the young and unemployed.
Again, this is the value of the Rundown events. Urbanears is encouraging like-minded individuals to come together to share a part of themselves and appreciate good music. Track Mafia’s Cory Wharton-Malcolm summed this up most profoundly, “music is something that brings us all together. It’s a window into our culture, music is a representation of us as a whole.”
The impact of the crews might not even be felt within this lifetime. With the help of brands like Urbanears, that amplify their message, they hope to inspire the next generation towards learning, creativity, self-improvement and good health, all integral parts of crew culture. “It’s about inspiring people to move, preparing them for life, the concepts people learn training for a marathon being equally applicable to a project elsewhere in their life,” Charlie adds. “We work with a lot of young people in different communities and it’s powerful seeing the transformation training for a marathon can bring to their lives.”
Rundown Events have already taken place in Copenhagen, Belgrade, and London, with more to follow in Hamburg, Amsterdam and Stockholm between now and September. Urbanears Active Line is available to buy now.
For more on Run Dem Crew, check out a Q&A with did with founder Charlie Dark.
- Photography: Hollie Cooper
- Special Thanks: Ciran from Still Waters Run Deep, Stephen & Georgie from London Brunch Club, Charlie from Run Dem Crew, Sorrel Walsh from WMN RUN and Corey from Track Mafia