Richmond demonstrates how collaboration and partnerships can help to make a community runner friendly. As the Capital of Virginia, the Metro Richmond Area is home to over 1.2 million residents. In the Richmond area, there are a variety of trails, parks, and pedestrian networks in the city and surrounding counties that are used year-round by runners and walkers. The Virginia Capital Trail, which will eventually link Williamsburg and Richmond, is in the final stages of completion and offers miles of trails for runners, walkers, and bikers.
There are a variety of runner-friendly businesses located throughout the community. Specialty stores such as Roadrunner Running Store, Endorphin Fitness, Lucky Foot and 3 Sports cater to runners and host daily and weekly group runs starting and ending at their respective locations. Bon Secours Richmond Health System and HCA Virginia Health System are also dedicated to serving runners and helping them stay fit and healthy. Fitness centers such as the YMCA, American Family Fitness, and ACAC work closely with runners on a daily basis and also sponsor some of the biggest running events in Richmond. Coffee shops and restaurants, such as Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream, Starbucks on Grove Avenue, and Hardywood Park Brewery, often serve as pre- and post-run meeting spots and are safe places for runners to get out of bad weather or fill a water bottle during a run. Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods and Martin’s Food Markets also support and sponsor events as well as offer healthy eating and nutrition clinics for runners.
The RRCA member Metropolitan Richmond Sports Backers works closely with the Richmond Road Runners Club (RRRC), and other organizations such as schools, local governments, and other nonprofit organizations to promote running. Both organizations are active in supporting local youth running programs by hosting and providing grants to programs including Kids Run RVA. The Sports Backers and RRRC also have a strong relationship with local media. There is in-depth coverage of running events in the daily newspaper and on local television stations, as well as a number of websites and print outlets committed to coverage of the local running scene.
Richmond hosts numerous running events every year, including the Anthem Richmond Marathon, American Family Fitness Half Marathon, and Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. Collectively these events attract thousands and thousands of runners and are great community celebrations of running and fitness. The events bring together the support of the Sports Backers, Richmond Road Runners Club, local governments, area businesses, as well as clubs, teams, and individuals. They serve as shining examples of the broad community support available for running in Richmond.
“Richmond is an ideal candidate for the recognition as a Runner Friendly Community, and I unequivocally and wholeheartedly support this nomination,” commented Cynthia Newbille, Richmond City Council Member. “Running is an integral part of our community that has helped our residents lead healthy, happy lifestyles.”
Community leaders who provided support and letters of recommendation include Cynthia I. Newbille, Richmond City Council member; Ned W. Massee, Vice President, MeadWestvaco; Jon Lugbill, Executive Director, Metropolitan Richmond Sports Backers