Making friends through exercise

A new social running club in Christchurch is encouraging everyone of all ages and paces to join in.

Social Striders is a club that blends fitness, fun and making friends and was created two months ago by work friends Katrina Riley and Georgia Levey.

They host free running events three times a week for members of the local community, with the added drawcard of activities after each run so people can socialise.

Riley says people don't have to be strong runners to join in.

"We've always got a designated walker ... we wanted people to be able to run at whatever pace they want - and if they feel that they can't run the whole loop, they can stop and walk and not have to worry about being left behind because that walker is always going to be there".

Social Striders gathered for a Saturday run. Photo: Supplied.
Social Striders gathered for a Saturday run. Photo: Supplied.
The runners meet up on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, as well as Saturday morning. After the run, they're invited to socialise over a drink and a pub quiz, or sometimes a swim at the beach.

Club member Nathan Palmer said he feels more comfortable with Social Striders than previous running groups he's been a part of.

"Being able to socialise where you run can make it easier for some people to get involved with that... People hold you accountable to coming to the runs and stuff like that, they'll ask you: 'Where were you last week?'"

The co-founders wanted to take up running to improve their physical and mental health.

Riley insists she's already reaping the benefits from her new hobby.

"I wasn't a runner before I started this, and now I'm running. The other weekend I ran 18 kilometres and I wasn't even tired and I honestly couldn't believe it, I'm so proud of myself, I was just like, 'Wow.'"

Social Striders is growing steadily and has reached almost 4000 people through Instagram and Facebook. 

The club uses social media to update members with weekly schedules and to encourage people to take part in both running and social activities.

- By Emily O'Hagan, made with the support of NZ On Air