I tried going on a group run for the first time this week. (Well, I mean, assuming you don’t count running races or triathlons as group runs…)
Spoiler alert: Hated it! Never going back.
The website said to show up at six to sign a waiver and learn the route and the run would begin at 6:30. I showed up at 5:55 and then sat around, making awkward small talk, as the bar became increasingly crowded with runners.
Everyone looked around kind of anxiously, pretty sure they were in the right spot since there were so many other people in running clothes, but not really sure what to do. There was no sign and no one who looked like the right person to ask. Lots of looking around for some type of leader/organizer. Lots of looking at watches.
There was a pile of waivers on a table in the corner. After I noticed some other people sign them and put them into a box, I intuited that I should follow suit. Also on this table was one printed copy of the route.
Eventually a guy turned to someone next to him and said, “Can you help me get everyone outside?” And herd mentality sort of took over and all 50 people or so went outside.
I looked around for somewhere to put my things (I had asked, and someone said there’d be a bin for wallets and keys and whatnot?) but I didn’t see anything and there was no one to ask, so I just ended up holding my phone and my wallet in my hand and hoping no one would steal my bag. (I imagine people left things in their cars, but I had ridden my bike.)
Guy-who-I-assume-was-kind-of-in-charge: Okay. Hi. Does everyone know where we’re going?
Me: Hi! No!
Guy-who-I-assume-was-kind-of-in-charge: Or do you know someone who knows where they’re going?
Me: Hey! Nope!
Guy-who-I-assume-was-kind-of-in-charge: Alright, you just go down across here and then onto the trail but just for a bit and then you cross the bridge and you’re through downtown but then back through commons park and up this other road for a bit. And there’s enough people, just follow everyone else!
So everyone takes off. In the opposite way I thought we were going, based on the map.
Within three minutes, I am completely behind everyone else (I was running at an 11:30 pace). Within a half a mile, I am running by myself in the dark on a deserted trail. By the ten minute mark, I’m baffled as to where I’m supposed to be, so I just head back to where we started.
Total distance covered: 1.77 miles.
Total time to get there, wait, get lost, and get home: Two hours
I don’t really mind that I was left behind. I know I’m slow so I expected that. But here’s what would have made this much better:
1. Some sort of sign/human greeter upon arrival to just say, sign a waiver, look at the map, we’ll all leave at the same time at 6:30. Answer any questions.
2. Somewhere to put belongings. Even just a designated corner of the room.
3. Maps for everybody!
4. Posting the route online.
5. Extra mad bonus points: chalking the route?
Even easier? The next time I want to run with someone, I will run with my friends! And leave my wallet safely in my house. And if I want to have drinks and pasta afterward, I will put beers and spaghetti in my fridge! Ta-da. The Mel Running Club.