Starting a Running Club from @RedheadRunning – The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


Jen in all her Tinker Bell glory at the Disney World Half.

Hola!  For many runners, we get our start by lacing up our shoes and just heading out the door, without much direction or focus.  We don’t know what we’re doing, we start out expecting too much, and we get discouraged.  One way to increase your running success is to find a group of crazy like-minded runners and join a running group.  The key is finding a group that is a good fit for you.  I’ve tried running with the wrong group and that can be more frustrating than always running alone.  Today I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine who saw the need for a club in her area and started a running club, the Howell Underground Running Team (H.U.R.T.)! Jen was gracious enough to be interviewed about starting a running club and discuss how her club came to be.  Welcome, Jen!

Name: Jen

Age: 31

Family: Husband, Spike, is the co-founder of HURT and her partner in crime.

City in Michigan: Howell


Twitter: @RedheadRunning

Instagram: @RedheadRunning

Running Club Website:

H.U.R.T.’s Kick Off Run

How/when did you get started running? I have always run, but didn’t start seriously training and racing until 2008.  Since then I have raced everything from 5k’s to marathons, relay races, etc…

What prompted you to start a running club? Spike and I would see people running in our community and felt there was a need.  We were right, as we average at least 40 people each week.

How did you find members and market your club? Although creating a webpage and FB page was crucial, a lot of our members initially found out about us through the flyers we put up on the community boards around town. (At the coffee shops, library, grocery store, DQ, etc…) We had close to 30 people show up for our first run; word of mouth and social sharing have helped the group grow from there.

I love the name “H.U.R.T.” How did you come up with the name? Spike is a clever guy (editor’s note – I can attest to this as I’ve seen his spectating costumes and signs!) and insisted we have a fun acronym that our actual club name spelled out: Howell Underground Running Team = H.U.R.T. The members love it.

How do you motivate runners? We offer a variety of distances (2, 3, and 5 miles) and are walker friendly.  Those that aren’t ready to go out with the group are encouraged to walk or run/walk laps around the track.  We also offer a kids club, where kids earn mileage tokens for each mile they run with us.  This allows their parents to go for a run with the group, when not having a babysitter might not otherwise allowed them to do so. (I can’t even begin to express how much I love that Jen and Spike have included kids in their club.)

Do the members pay to belong to H.U.R.T.? No, and there are no plans in the foreseeable future to charge a membership fee.  We do accept donations for supplies, but there is no expectation.

Honestly, how much work is it to run this club? It is a lot of work, but now that we have a routine, it’s getting much easier.  (We mark the routes with small flags so new members don’t get lost and provide water, Gatorade, and popsicles for after the run; this set up takes time and preparation.)  Maintaining the website and FB page is an ongoing and necessary component, but since I do that kind of stuff for a living, it’s just another part of my day.

How has your injury impacted your participation in the club? Because I am unable to run due to a stress fracture, I head up the kids group and organize the run/walkers at the track which has helped fill the void not being able to run has left in my heart.  Seeing the triumphant smiles of the kids as they earn their mileage tokens each week is enough to lift anyone’s spirit.

As a fellow Michigander, I have to ask, what is your favorite Michigan race or place to run in the Mitten State? I love doing training runs over at Kensington Metropark around Kent Lake.  Of the Michigan area races I have done, I really enjoyed the Capital City River Run half marathon in Lansing the best.

Favorite race distance? I love a half marathon, all the [email protected] of double digits while still being able to function afterwards. 🙂

What does running mean to you and what does it mean for your family life?  Running is a huge part of my life; it’s how Spike and I met, it’s what helps us both lead healthy lives, and it’s saved my sanity more than a few times. Ha!

Upcoming race schedule for H.U.R.T.? The Melon Run 5k/10k, part of the larger Howell Melon Festival weekend, is coming up on August 16th and is the H.U.R.T. summer goal race. While the majority of the team will be out racing, I will be heading up a group that will be manning one of the on-course aid stations. (Editor’s note – this race has already happened for the group and they did great! About 50 people from H.U.R.T. participated, including 12 kids!)  After the Melon Run, we plan to support and have a showing at the Wildlife 5k, a trail race in September, the Headless Horseman 5k/10k, our fall goal race in October, and the Christmas themed Fantasy 5k; all Howell area races. Personally, I cannot say when I’ll be back on the racing scene, but hopefully it’s sooner, rather than later. (Amen to that!  I’m sending tons of healing mojo to Jen’s leg.)

Anything else you’d like to share? Organizing this running group has been an incredibly rewarding experience; we have met so many wonderful people from our community and it’s been awesome helping them celebrate their achievements and encourage their goals.

Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing your experience with the Shrinking Jeans readers.  If you could all go show Jen some running love, that would be awesome 🙂

Do any of you belong to a running group or club?

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