Red Brick On the Road #3 – London City Runners
Our third instalment in our series Red Brick on the Road research projects brought us to Bermondsey, home of the London City Runners, presenting a very different insight into Followings in comparison to our previous trip to the Women’s Institute.
Within the clubhouse that sits beneath a railway arch in Bermondsey, South East London, we were instantly welcomed by Tim and Kerry into the London City Runners community. We delved deep into the Following the club has amassed since its inception in 2010, learning of their global reach to runners outside of the UK and understood how the club’s community has been integral in supporting their growth over the years.
5 Key Learnings:
1. Encourage loyalty by not insisting on exclusivity
Though people feel a level of ownership and pride for London City Runners, they’re not so much allowed but encouraged to pursue running elsewhere.
From weekend Park Runs, to the London Marathon, it’s about the love of running.
There’s no rivalry between clubs either – they’ve hosted events for some of London’s biggest running clubs and see them as friends.
2. Be more to people than just their ‘run club’
There are plenty of running clubs in London, from Track Mafia, to Serpentines, Park Runs and the like – so being distinctive is key.
The success of London City Runners is that they’re more than that – they represent a chance for people to build something together – to share a passion, not just running.
It’s meant crowdfunding to buy a clubhouse, designers volunteering time to build websites, and a liquidator donating the bar stools which may or may not have caused Brexit.
3. A physical focal point is crucial (but being nomadic had its benefits)
In practical terms having a clubhouse has meant they could start a bar and have a more reliable revenue stream – hiring it out to other clubs and societies.
But moving from pub to pub has meant lots of members have joined along the way – people who were just at the pub and saw there was a running club.
The London City Runners bar is also part of the Bermondsey Beer Mile, so lots of people drinking on the Saturday have then come along to join London City Runners and become a part of the community.
4. It’s about group achievement, not individuals
In sport it’s easy to get hung up on individual prizes and achievement, but for London City Runners it’s about showcasing everyone’s achievements.
From the whole club cheering on the people who’ve ‘graduated’ from their ‘Couch to 5k’ programme, people who’ve done their first Park Run this week, to the clubhouse being adorned with everyone’s running vests and medals, it’s about the group, not the individual.
5. Make outsiders feel like insiders
It’s a tight community, so the founders can quickly tell if you’re a first time attendee of London City Runners.
They quickly come over, explain the club to anyone that doesn’t know, and pair you with an experienced member to indict you into the club and it’s values.
So, we’ve experienced the other-worldly Comic Con, and the traditional-but-evolving Women’s Institute, and now the close-knit community of the London City Runners – all different but bound by their core dedication to creating and cultivating a dedicated and loyal Following.
Watch this space for where we explore next.