How to Set Up A Running Club

Hi everyone

Following on from our How to Organise a Race article back in the summer, I’m looking to put together a similar feature about setting up running clubs and want to hear your ideas and experiences please.

If you’re on a club committee already, it would be great to hear about both...

  • the organisational side of things (legal obligations such as affiliation, qualified officials, insurance, health and safety etc.)
  • the daily practicalities – recruiting members, organising sessions (varying routes and workouts), liaising with other sports club for the use of facilities etc.

Even if you’re not directly involved with the organisation, but are a club runner, we’d still like to hear from you...

  • What were the most important factors when you started looking for a club?
  • How have these criteria changed over time?
  • What ideas work best at your club?

Or, if you’re just toying with the idea of getting some mates together and forming you own club – what are the questions that you want the answers to?

Please pop any thoughts or queries here on the thread or alternatively, if you'd prefer, you can always email me: [email protected]

Hope to spark some interesting discussion… thanks in advance for your help and interest!



  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭

    I am on the committee of an established club. How to start one from scratch? Well......

    Why do you want to start a club? Who are your target runners? Where will you run? How often? Do you need a base? Do you want it to have a social side? What will you call it? Are there any clubs nearby? Why don't they meet your need? Have you tried talking to them?

    It's probably best to start off as a fairly informal running group first, to see if you can build up a core of people who want to run together. Use an e-mail group to keep in touch, unless you have someone at the very beginning with web skills (then you'll need money for a domain name, web space etc). You might want to charge per occasion (50p or a pound even) to start building up a fund of money. Again, at the beginning the care of this fund might be based on trust.

    You've got a group going. Now they want to make it more formal. Where have you been meeting? Does it have showers? A bar, a meeting room? Try asking around local sports clubs with premises (my club is based at a tennis club), local authority facilities, schools, universities, pubs (yes it is known), even a local commercial gym might welcome the addition of a running group to its portfolio. Will the chosen venue charge you and your members?

    At this point, the venue might want a contract with your 'club'. Now you need to consider your legal status. Ask other clubs for a copy of their constitutions (UKA might have a template one, I don't know). You'll need a couple of people formally nominated to do particular roles. How about a bank account (most have a category for clubs, scouts etc)? Affiliation to UKA costs money but with it comes some insurance (see why you've been building up your fund?). You also get to pay the affiliated rate at races once you're in UKA (not presuming that UKA is the organisation you'll join...). Club kit and colours? Most people like the sense of belonging but not the idea of £15 or so that it might cost for a vest. Would you settle for a customised t-shirt to start with?

  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭

    Where do you run? Who is going to lead the runs? How many people, what pace? Do you welcome fast people as well as beginners? Is it ladies only? You don't need qualifications to lead a group but you might want to think about whether anyone is first aid trained. If you're a proper club now, how much are you charging for membership?

    Do you want to start actively recruiting outside the original informal running group? How are you going to do that? Local paper, noticeboards, libraries, schools, local radio.....? Be sure you know what you'll do with new people. Do they have to join after a certain number of weeks? Will you get them to sign a disclaimer on the first visit?

    Do you want to do 'proper training sessions'? Have you got the expertise (really) to organise these? Do you know a coach who would help out? Where is the local track? Can you join with another group for their sessions? My club meets three times a week - Monday is beginners and intermediates (although the fast boys do turn up and form their own group), Wednesday is club night, Friday is track. We welcome everyone and established members will lead groups at different paces and distances depending upon who turns up. We do have a superb coach who gives us his time for free to run our track training sessions.

    People want different things from their running club. I wanted to learn more local routes without getting lost. I still enjoy running on my own but now know that it's fun to go out with other people too. You might want to learn more about training from other people. A lot of folk want the feeling of security of a group, especially in the winter months. Other people can help push you when you might not do a session on your own.

    Think what you want from a club and then that's probably what you need to provide if you're going to set one up.

    Good luck.

    And for heaven's sake, organising a race is for mad people only. I should know......

  • Thanks for such an informative reply Womble, there's certainly lots to think about there!
  • Being in exactly the same situation as Womble I agree with everything said but especially..

    Why do you want to start one?  Few people live that far from an established club and even if their style isn't yours the chances are that there is a club that suits you quite close by...

    Also a word of warning.....sadly in many clubs it ends up being a case of "the few doing the work for the many".....

    You will need a club constitution and any club colours must be submitted to UKA in order that they don't clash with established clubs

  • A local gym that have invited me to set up a running club for the members. I am a qualified Biomechanics Coach with practitioner insurance and the gym has insurance on site. However can anyone enlighten me on legalities of being covered if someone hurts themselves during the run off site?
    rachfit - if your insurance doesn't cover you offsite you have the option of setting up your club either with EA/UKA or ARC, both will give you the insurance you need.   UKA would require all run leaders to have completed UKA coach/run leaders course.  UKA will often reject small clubs as they're not really interested in encouraging new clubs and may suggest you join up with an already established club in the area.  You would also require a bank account/committee and all that stuff. 

    ARC will cover anyone that your running club thinks is a competent leader.   Much less red tape too.

    Other option is for either you or the gym to add PL insurance to the existing policies for runs off site.
  • Seems like a very old thread but good timing for me that someone bumped it as I was thinking about this as well, though more specifically a virtual running club, as a side offering to some of the virtual races I put on.

    I'm aware of the £150 charge to affiliate the club, and the £15 per athlete charge.  Are there any other significant costs to be considered?  Bearing in mind its a virtual club, I already have a website and I'll be putting time into writing training plans etc anyway.   I'll think about merch later on...
    Rundraise - for. EA/UKA I think you'll need a bank account and committee etc. The £15 charge per runner is only if they want a licence, not compulsory.  You'll have to pay for course qualifications to comply with insurance requirements for run leaders.  Not sure about virtual club though. If your members team up to run together then they might need a qualified leader.

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