A running club quite unlike any other.
Words & Photography Adam Bryce
Video Grave Runners
When I was younger, I would run a lot. Initially because an injury had put an end to my sporting career and it was innate in me to exercise after years of competing at such a competitive level. What was rehabilitation quickly became a new challenge — running daily, pushing myself to run longer, run faster, to complete marathons. Running became a filler for my competitive nature.
I would run alone. It became a place of solace, a time to think and, in many ways, it sparked creativity in me. Running helped me take a passion for art and fashion and transform it into a career.
The more I ran, the more I would notice the same people. We would smile or nod as we ran past each other. I would sometimes get invited to run with others but I never felt comfortable. Just because we ran at a similar level didn’t mean we would be compatible running buddies. The others were normally older and had good jobs. I was a fashion student who hung out with art school kids and never imagined myself to have a normal job.
Grave Runners is a running group for those who don’t feel like they belong in a running group.
An old friend of mine, Aaron Bondaroff, always referred to his scene as “for the weirdos and dirtbags” and, when I met with Grave Runners founders, Connor and Logan the sentiment was the same, “even dirtbags need to go for a run.” Their ethos instantly made sense to me and I wanted to run again.
A feeling of belonging is one of the biggest motivators one can find. A feeling of knowing others feel like you is a comforter for anyone suffering from mental health issues. Connor and Logan started Grave Runners after discovering that running was a positive force in dealing with their own mental health issues. Motivating each other to run in order to find post-exercise mental clarity made such an impact and they knew it could be beneficial to others.
The pair describe the initiative as a digital motivator. Through Instagram, they’re able to help motivate like-minded individuals to run. It’s simple really, they make running cool. And as Grave Runners picks up in popularity they want to ensure the message is clear — this is not about running, it’s about mental health. Whether you can run 10 kms or 100 metres, you can join in or simply sit and chat.