As the world faced the isolation of 2020, they saw a need to fill that void. “While COVID-19 brought many restrictions, it also brought a lot of opportunity,” says DC running organization veteran, Vonks. “To meet our runners’ needs for togetherness, community, competition, and motivation during a time when many have lost jobs, family, friends and more. We invited them to be with us.”
It all started simply enough. With a social media post. From there, a few more friends joined them the following week. And the week after. And the week after that. Nine months later, their community hasn’t stopped growing. The Northeast Track Club virtual community is now 400 strong, with over 50 consistent members in DC from all age groups, paces, sexualities and backgrounds.
Support and inclusivity are the cornerstones of the club. “From the onset, it was important to us to build a place where people could be themselves and run at their pace without intimidation,” says Vonks. “To continue fostering this environment, we also ask each of our runners to be welcoming, inviting, and to bring new people “into the group” the way they were brought in.”
Pace isn’t a key component in NETC’s rhetoric. Knowing that talk of speed can be intimidating, Northeast Track Club focus on the community element, and place their emphasis on the effort to be your best over anything else.
“NETC is for anyone who is seeking to be challenged and welcomed at the same time,” says Carl, photographer, community-builder and US Air Force veteran. “We will cheer you on and give you the space to improve, but we will also challenge you to dig deep. The way we see it, the workout is not done until everyone is done.”
“It’s special to watch our speedy runners finish their own workout and then help some of the others get to the finish line. When our runners see this happening, they feel supported and encouraged, but they also want to do the same for another runner to help them along.” — Carl