(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Cleveland is a great place to run in spring, summer and autumn. From a runner’s perspective, with a blind eye turned toward a little January snow and ice, this area is blessed. Naturally, a large number Clevelanders enjoy and participate in the sports of running, walking and hiking. There are running races in the Cleveland area nearly every weekend from April through October and a few throughout winter. While many of the area’s organized running programs are associated with schools, there are a number of clubs for grownups and families as well as other loosely organized groups that run together. If you’re looking for a group to train with, these are the best in the Cleveland area.

Cleveland West Roadrunners Club

Price: $20 per year, individual/$25 per year per family/$15 student membership

The Cleveland West Road Runners Club has been together for 35 years, and it’s still going strong. The club sponsors running events in Lakewood, Strongsville, Bay Village, Rocky River, and nearby locations on Cleveland’s west side. Traditionally it meets at the old Bonne Belle headquarters at Georgetown Row and Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. It’s known for enthusiastic members, group picnics and sponsoring races. Perhaps the best known are its two longer-distance runs, which it holds in the west side Cleveland Metroparks: The Spring Classic and the Fall Classic. Both classics start at Bonnie Park, near Strongsville, and turn around at the Toboggan Run. A 5K event is run concurrent with each classic. This club is run by volunteers, so different people are in charge at different times. Count on Cleveland West Roadrunners to be an entertaining group of runners of all ages who are having a great time staying in shape.

Second Sole Rocky River Running Group
19341 Detroit Ave.
Rocky River, OH 44116
(440) 895-1311

Sponsored by an excellent running goods store in Rocky River, the Second Sole Running Group has been around since 1998. This club now has more than 300 members. It welcomes all levels of runners and walkers. The Second Sole group’s goal is to promote running as a sport in a manner that’s both fun and safe. An additional objective is to enhance the fitness level of the group’s members. Sign up for its Twitter feed, and you’ll be alerted to running events as well as specials at the Second Sole shop in Rocky River. Stop into the shop at 19341 Detroit Road and the staff will fill you in on upcoming events. Second Sole has group runs from the shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m; typically the Tuesday run goes to the quarter-mile track at nearby Rocky River High School while the Thursday run may take a longer route. There are Saturday and Sunday runs in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.
Northeast Running Club of Ohio 
P.O. Box 1072
Mentor, OH 44061-1072

Price: $20 per year per individual/$25 per year per family

The Northeast Running Club holds a weekly group run at Gristmill Plaza in Concord Township. It’s also known for its trail runs. NERC members are frequently offered special deals at the east side Second Sole shop, located at 5114 Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst. It’s easy to join NERC on its website. NERC promoted the Grand Prix, a series of races throughout 2012, and will likely establish a similar cup for 2013. It publishes an excellent calendar of near-term events. If you choose not to join online, you may still sign up for the NERC newsletter to stay on top of upcoming events.

Cleveland Southeast Runners Club

1335 Merriman Road
Akron, OH 44313

Price: $20 per year

The Cleveland Southeast Runners Club began in 1975 and its purpose is to promote distance running. SERC sponsors local races as well as social events. The club welcomes both novice and experienced runners. It’s also a good place to meet people looking to qualify for the Boston marathon as well as those who just run regularly for fun and health benefits. Enjoy a weekly Saturday run in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, beginning at Lock 29, near Route 303 and the Akron Peninsula Road. On Sundays at 8 a.m. runners meet in Solon Square Shopping center near Chipotle and run a 12-mile loop in Solon. 

Related: Best Races, Marathons and Walking Events in Cleveland

Cleveland Hash House Harriers and Harriets 

Price: $10 per event

This is a group that focuses on running a trail set up by a member, the “hare.” The rest of the group follows the hare’s trail, and the trail ends with a party and a tub of beers and other beverages for the participants. Events are held every month, typically on the first and third Saturday of the month at 3 p.m. Participants each pay $10 to participate. You may sign up on the website, without charge, to receive emails about future events. Part of an international club of Hash House Harriers, it began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, in a restaurant there nicknamed the Hash House. The club works to promote fitness, rid its members of weekend hangovers, satisfy a good thirst with beer and convince everyone they’re years younger. The Hash House Harriers and Harriets events happen in Cleveland and all around, depending on which member is the “hare.” Events from all sides of Cleveland are included: South Euclid, Bedford, Strongsville, Brecksville and Akron. While many local runners appreciate the combination of running and drinking beer afterward, this is the only local running club that includes beer drinking as part of its central theme.

Related: Getaway Guide: One-Tank Trip to the Great Lakes Science Center

Susan Walker enjoys life in Lakewood, Ohio, on Cleveland’s west side where she works as a sourcing and purchasing consultant. She holds an MBA from Cleveland State and a BS in Chemistry and Computer Science. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.