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October 25, 2013

On The Run: Membership has its privileges

Running is often a solo endeavor. It’s great to be able to just lace up your shoes and go.

But there’s a lot to be said for strength in numbers.

A huge reason for the North Shore’s vibrant running scene is the support provided by local running clubs. A running club doesn’t just organize road races, but actually serves as a place for runners to commiserate, learn about the sport and bond over a common interest.

By no means are running clubs the exclusive domain of experienced or elite runners. Newbies to the sport can take advantage of the valuable expertise of others, whether it’s doing track workouts with expert coaches, getting tips from seasoned competitors or just going for an easy run with a new friend.

Just as there are many road races of all shapes and sizes on the North Shore, there’s also a wide variety of running club options in the area. Going in alphabetical order, the local running clubs include the following:

• Gil’s Athletic Club (Topsfield)—Better known as GAC, this group refers to itself on its website (www.gaconline.net/rundays.html) as “that bunch of runners from Topsfield.” Based out of a store run by club founder Jim Gilford, GAC charges no dues and prides itself on its informality. The group holds regular runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and hosts the annual Stone Cat 50-mile and marathon trail races (https://sites.google.com/site/stonecattrailraces/), which takes place this year on Nov. 2.

• North Shore Striders (Beverly)—Founded in 1976, the North Shore Striders (www.northshorestriders.com/) boast a diverse membership of younger and older runners alike. The group hosts several local races including the Nahant 30K, is a member of USA Track and Field and provides coaching for members.

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