On any given Thursday night, in the waning light of a Montreal evening in the neighbourhood of Notre Dame de Grace, if you listen, and the wind is just right, the slap of high-fives and laughs from bad jokes drift down from the top of Westmount Summit. That buzz is courtesy of the Run Rite Athletics Club and they’ve been sounding their passion for the sport around the Montreal run scene since September 2017. Two of the run leaders, Stephane “Butch” Boucher and Saucony ambassador Lecia Mancini let us in on how the Run Rite crew came to be, and just what it means to be part of a dedicated group of runners.
It all began when Jeremy Bresnan, a co-founder of Montreal apparel company Ciele Athletics, rounded up some run leaders from the community to bring some free athletic activity to a part of town that was lacking it. “Why not do something we love,” Butch explains, “while giving locals a reason to enjoy the hood with us.”
And so, on September 14, 2017, the Run Rite crew set off on the first of many pushes to Summit Circle Park on Mount Royal. “It was founded at the end of a pretty big running season,” Lecia remembers, “and it stayed small yet strong through the winter months. Butch grew our online followers through witty captions and subpar photographs. Otherwise, we basically just showed up every week.”
“When we started running with our tiny core group,” Butch continues, “we just loved every session so much that a subconscious decision was made to let the growth happen organically. Doing it this way has made it feel more like a slowly expanding group of best friends.”
It’s also ensured that the crew is made up of runners of all stripes. “We have some pretty serious runners who are sub elite and others who simply enjoy the weekly run,” Lecia tells us, or as Butch puts it: “For some, it's their only run of the week and for others it's the last run of the day.”
“I would say, though, that we do have the highest concentration of ultrarunners and vegans/vegetarians in a single group of runners,” Lecia says.
But whatever your goals with running, or your dietary bent, a night out with Run Rite ensures no one gets left behind. “We try to approach it in a way that retains the concept of lifting those around you,” Butch says. “We keep the gang together by encouraging the faster folks to loop back every now and again, pick up the back of the pack. Being competitive on race day is great, but on Thursdays we like to see a group effort.”
And for a sport that is so often practiced alone, camaraderie like this can not only be welcome respite, but a bona fide means to getting better. “When running with folks whose company is genuinely enjoyable, it hardly seems like training,” Lecia says. “The work gets put in while hanging out and laughing with your best pals.” But it goes even further than fitness. “The crew run manages to provide perspective, a sense of belonging, knowledge gained from experience, and a lot of memories not necessarily related to the sport,” Butch says.
“When I started running,” he recalls. “I was solo for about 18 months before I looked up a local crew and just ‘showed up’. I remember that evening so fondly and vividly that I would call it one of the defining moments of my adult life. We believe that treating every Thursday like it's somebody's first ever crew run is a great motivator to keep things fresh and fun.”
Fun is a major factor with the Run Rite crew, and it shows in the post-run traditions that may or may not be becoming the main event of the evening. “I won't pretend this isn't my favourite part also,” Butch says. “After the run we hang out at the studio for a few hours and share some drinks and laughs. Some of us even choose to tackle the always-fast, half-remembered ‘stumble run’ back home to cap it all off.”
For Lecia, “Run Rite is about running, climbing hills and enjoying the post-run high, usually with bottle popping and salt-n-vinegar chips. Because we are classy.”
So, the next time you find yourself in Montreal, and you’re looking for a fun way to get moving, or even just a great night out, the Run Rite crew is only an Instagram search away. “If you see us around or online and you're up for a free run, hit us up,” Butch says. “You don't even need to let us know. We'll be happy to see you. If you decide to come back, we'll treat you like family.”
What more could you ask for in a crew?