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How Friday night running became more popular than going down to the pub

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He has been part of a drive, along with early running communities like Midnight Runners, Run Dem Crew and Project Awesome, to prioritise enjoyment and community ahead of elite performance.

From 300 people in 2017, Love Trails has already sold out all of its 4,000 tickets for this year’s weekend-long event in the Gower Peninsula. Instead of drinking culture and the attendant hangovers, the focus is on adventure, running and wellbeing.

While he credits cult fitness communities Hyrox and CrossFit for normalising the blending of social and fitness lives, where running has beaten the competition is that it’s not only good for you, it’s low cost and can be done almost anywhere. “People have realised that you don’t need to be stuck in a smelly gym, paying for an expensive membership in order to get healthy and feel good about yourself,” he says.

Simultaneously, the outdoors has become fashionable in and of itself. Trail running in particular is now part of the zeitgeist and brands like Salomon are deeply desirable.

“‘Gorpcore”’, the fashion movement where clothing typically created for outdoor recreation is worn as streetwear, has been led by Gen Z and social media influencers, and by grass-roots subcultures, communities and run crews,” says Larn Jones. 

No mere fashion trend, though, for many it speaks to a deeper craving for real world connection. 

“How we spend time and with whom is something we’re all thinking about more and more,” says Mark White, the founder of Run Grateful, a platform that encourages people to commit to at least a mile a day of walking or running, as a time to reset and move the body. “In a world full of information and being pulled in lots of different directions, the old-fashioned meeting up in person to connect with others and not just in the pub seems more attractive than ever!”

Louise Bruce joined her local running club in Cheltenham five years ago at the age of 52.

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