Lauren Mantha, a dedicated runner, communications student and nurse at a Toronto-based fertility clinic, has developed a groundbreaking idea to unite running communities across Canada through a website called A Running List. This platform serves as a means to connect with and join local run clubs in one’s vicinity. Within just one month of its launch, Mantha has expanded its reach to cities across Ontario and into Quebec, aiming to build a nationwide database for individuals looking to join a run club.
Mantha took to running last May through the Million Reasons Run virtual fundraiser for children’s hospitals. After pledging to run 31 kilometres in May 2023, she signed up for the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in October. During her race preparation, she trained independently, assuming that joining a run club entailed a financial commitment. However, when a friend invited her to join one, Mantha began her journey to explore various run groups in Toronto, documenting her experiences on her social media.
“Discovering the abundance of free run clubs in Toronto opened my eyes to the inclusivity and accessibility of the running community,” says Mantha. “I realized that many people, like myself, were unaware of the many options available, and I wanted to change that.”
Mantha’s idea, A Running List, (pun intended), began as a compilation of run clubs and their meeting times, along with their Instagram tags on social media. As interest grew, she recognized the need for a more comprehensive platform. “The response was overwhelming,” she recalls. With the assistance of her friend Jenna, Mantha launched her website on Jan. 9. The website now serves as a run club database for runners, providing details and meeting times for run groups in Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo, Ottawa, and soon, Montreal.
“I never anticipated this list gaining such momentum,” Mantha says, reflecting on the two months since the platform’s launch. “The support from the running community has been incredible.”
Mantha knows the barriers of attending a run club for the first time: “It can be intimidating, particularly for newcomers,” she admits. “My objective is simply to make these run clubs more accessible.” Looking ahead, Mantha wants to expand A Running List nationwide while maintaining its community-driven atmosphere. “I want this project to serve as a resource for all runners, whether they’re seasoned veterans or just starting out.”
As A Running List continues to flourish, Mantha is committed to her vision of fostering a stronger, more interconnected running community across Canada. “The support we’ve received thus far has been remarkable,” she enthuses. “I’m excited to see where this journey leads us.”
She encourages all run clubs, regardless of their location or size, to reach out to @arunninglist on Instagram to be featured on the website.