We recently visited our friends at We Run Belfast to learn more about how their run club is impacting the lives of runners all around Belfast.

What do you love about running?

Andy: What I love about running is how accessible it is. All you need is a pair of trainers, the willpower to go outside to get those endorphins going and the ability to connect with others. Anyone can go for a run. That’s what I love. 

Chris: I love the freedom of just stepping out the door and running. Like there's no hold how far, how long. If you want to compete, you can. But I just love getting out the door and getting a bit of fresh air.

Beth: I love a mental break. Also just the joy it gives you afterwards is really real. I like the ability you have to run and even just the fact that you're able to run. It feels really good just to be able to get outside, get your body moving and challenge yourself too. And I think a running club like this gives you a good opportunity to be challenged by other people as well and be really encouraged to go out and go further. I did the marathon for the first time ever. If I hadn't been in a running club, I wouldn’t have done it.

Ryan: I think it’s a way to escape, running away from problems. I just enjoy the freedom. 

Ashton: I’ve been running most of my life. And always competing and running for myself. When I got involved with We Run Belfast, it became a social thing, also my core community. Now running is what brings me together with my friends, and it brings me to new places. We get to travel to different races and people are there for me when we run, even when we're just having a pint or on a walk. It's great.

What's the running culture like in Belfast? 

Beth: It's pretty good, because we're a smaller community. I feel like there's a better chance of meeting people and having mutual friends. So it's a really good opportunity to widen your circle in Belfast, maybe in your work as well. I've met a lot of others like nurses and doctors. It’s really good. I really enjoyed it. 

Ashton: Belfast is great for running. We’ve got a lot of green space. I moved here a year and a half ago and just immediately found all these different parks and town paths. You will find people running in these places before or after work. So it's really a class for running culture. We've seen it since last year. It's really nice to see the running culture kind of blow up. Our group grows as well as other different groups in the city.

How would you describe the identity of We Run Belfast?

Andy: The identity of We Run Belfast is quite eclectic. We have runners that are running super fast marathons, and we have folks that come for their very first run. So we are entirely inclusive. We stick together and we don't let people get left behind.

Chris: I think it’s definitely getting better. I think as a smaller city, there was definitely a time when we sort of lost the fun of running, whereas now, especially now that we've got this atmosphere around, I think it's a lot easier to get out, have fun and not just focus on getting better or PBs.

Beth: They're very friendly and inclusive. I wouldn't go to any other running club. I feel like they're my people.

Shane: It's just a really good vibe every Wednesday. In summer we like to run on Saturdays. I think it's a really good way to meet people in the city, all from all different walks of life, from all different countries and cultures.

Ryan: Inclusive. You don’t have to be fast to run. Everyone is staying together and really supportive.

What makes We Run Belfast different?

Andy: I'm biased. But what I think makes We Run Belfast different is the special bonds. We've been going for almost six years now. And folks that came on that very first night have connected and become friends. We understand what's going on in each other's lives. What you hear in the background now is not people talking about the splits of their training. It's about what they're doing at the weekend and how they're doing.

Chris: It's very light - so accepting that anyone can come down and have fun. No pressure on anything.

Beth: Their ethos. There's a determination for everyone to stick together. It’s a mentality that they have and they've pushed since the beginning.

Shane: I think there's such a big crowd midweek. It sort of brightens up everyone's week. 

What does sustainability mean to you?

Andy: For me, sustainability is all about leaving this planet in a good or even better place than we found it through all of our actions - whether that's our travel, the things we buy or the things we spend money on. We can actually have a regenerative interaction with our planet, not an extractive one. So we need to have long-term goals.

Chris: Minimising is a big thing. Trying to make the most of what we have right now is always trying to strive for getting new things.

Beth: Being resourceful, being wise. Not thinking about what can I get but what can I give as well is really important when it comes to sustainability.

Ryan: Doing things under your limits and with self-support. Too much of anything could be bad. It’s all about balance, right?

Ashton: You’ve got the environmental aspects of sustainability. I think that's so key for the way that we treat the people who make the things we buy. The way that we treat the planet and especially people that are impacted the most in climate and changes on the planet. And that's usually not us living in the West. I think that's so key in the way that when we consume, be conscious of that and to intentionally buy things or not, based on how they sustainably commit to loving people and loving our planet.