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The Rise of Run Clubs

The marathon runners were wearing neon and sipping beers.

They had flown from as far as Seoul and Cape Town for the Berlin marathon, which is happening this morning. While professionals are racing to break records, these runners were there for the party.

Berlin has become a destination for social running clubs from around the world to meet up and hang out. In the days leading up to the marathon, runners danced to D.J. sets, visited galleries and ate brunch together after jogs. Today, the clubs are supporting their racing members on route sidelines as rowdy as American tailgates.

“It takes over the city,” Ainoa Ryll, 33, from Barcelona, said over music playing at a marathon photography exhibit. “So many people run now, it’s one big party.”

Running clubs are popular in cities around the world: Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Houston and New York, where Alyson Krueger reported on their rise for The Times. These clubs help people build communities in cities that can feel alienating. At the runs and the hangouts afterward, members have met best friends and even spouses.

“Running was once seen as a nerdy, solo sport,” said Joey Elgersma, the founder of the Berlin Braves. “These clubs are showing how cool and social it can be.”

Many running clubs started during the pandemic, when people were looking for opportunities to exercise and safely spend time with others outside.

Justin Shields, 33, founded the Venice Run Club in Los Angeles in 2020. The club grew into one of the largest in the world as people sought out friendship during lockdowns: Recently, more than 1,000 people came to one of the group’s runs (there are three a week). The club hosts community service opportunities, 5Ks and parties for its members, who are mostly in their 20s and 30s.

Despite its size, Shields said the club still maintained a sense of community by having newcomers introduce themselves at the beginning of each run. “I understand how hard it is to make friends now,” Shields said. “I want to help people make a real connection.”

Shields himself made one: He met his wife, Erin, 28, on one of the club’s first runs. They now manage it together.

Run club founders say the groups are popular because running facilitates deep connections. Unlike in most social settings, members see one another exhausted, struggling and sweaty — a vulnerable combination.

“We’ve found that people bond really, really quickly,” Matt Horrocks, 33, a co-founder of the Your Friendly Runners club in London, said.

Ryo Yamamoto, 47, a creative director who co-founded the Old Man Run Club in New York, said his running community once rallied behind a member who was experiencing health challenges. And Erin Shields, from the Venice Run Club, said that the community felt similar to the one she had found at church as a child.

“Religion gives you a group of people who are willing to take action and help you at any time, be there in your corner and support you and celebrate you,” she said. “The run club gives you that, too.”

Related: Run clubs have become so popular in New York, rivalries and turf wars have started.

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With Lachlan, Murdoch’s son and successor, unlikely to shift the network’s focus, “Fox likely won’t be much different than the past,” Tom Jones writes for the Poynter Institute. But there are rival sibling factions within the Murdoch family, leaving Lachlan’s control “likely to be contested once Rupert is no longer around,” The Financial Times’s Matthew Garrahan writes.

I spoke with the author Caitlin Moran about her new book on the masculinity crisis, “What About Men?”

Part of the framing of your book is that there’s not enough discussion about young men’s struggling to adapt to changing ideas about masculinity. I feel as if that’s a big topic of conversation these days. What is the fresh thinking that you’re bringing to it?

Feminism has a stated objective, which is the political, social, sexual and economic equality of women. With men, there isn’t an objective or an aim. Because there isn’t, the stuff that is getting the most currency is on the conservative side. Men going: “Our lives have gotten materially worse since women started asking for equality. We need to have power over women again.”

What should the future look like for men?

There’s no sense of a continuing conversation; of there being a new pantheon of men being invented all the time; then those inventions embedding themselves more firmly in the mainstream. Look at Beyoncé or Phoebe Waller-Bridge: When we invent a new kind of woman or new way of talking about women, it gets quickly absorbed into the mainstream.

Why has it been harder for the left than the right to gain the kind of currency you mentioned earlier?

Men on the liberal left, while feminism was having this massive movement, were like, OK, we’re not going to start talking about men while this is happening. They sat it out for a decade, and now their sons have grown up in an era where they have heard people go, “Typical straight white men; toxic masculinity,” and those sons are like, “[expletive] this,” because they don’t see what a recent corrective feminism is to thousands of years of patriarchy.

Read more of the interview here.

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Here is today’s Spelling Bee. Yesterday’s pangram was hayfork.

Can you put eight historical events — including Visigoths’ marching on Rome, the World’s Fair in New York and striking tomb builders in Egypt — in chronological order? Take this week’s Flashback quiz.

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