Sarah Dibble

Staff Writer

The number of options that exist for anyone looking to get active in the city of Lakeland are seemingly endless with run clubs meeting all around the city at almost all hours of the day. However, for those looking for an extra bit of an incentive, the Lakeland Pub Runs could be a perfect fit (no pun intended).

Runners of all ages and ability levels meet every Tuesday night at the Red Door Wine Market to catch up with friends, enjoy great food and, most importantly, to run. The runs foster an incredible sense of community as well as provide accountability for those needing extra motivation or looking to train for various races.

“The runs are organized by the local running store FITniche. We like coming to them because they are a great place to meet new friends and enjoy a great laid-back run,” said local Lakeland runner Jessica Griffith, whose 12-year-old daughter also completed the run.  “The runs are also great because you can run as fast or slow as you want, and you aren’t required to finish the whole course,” Griffith said.

The runners meet a few minutes early to learn the course in case they lose the pack and, after the run, reconvene at the Red Door Wine Market for discounted beverages and food.

“A lot of people don’t understand that running doesn’t have to be a solitary sport. The pub runs are a great way to start enjoying running again, plus you get to eat and drink with friends directly afterwards. What could be better?” runner David O’Brien said.

After the run, which has been described as “a hilly and quirky 5k” by the Pub Run website, runners chat with each other while nursing freshly brewed beers and munching on gourmet finger food. The group welcomes runners that come trickling in from the course, while simultaneously taking over the small restaurant, with runners socializing as far as the eye can see.

“Most importantly, nobody seems uncomfortable or out of place,” Griffith said. “A lot of people seem to dread working out because of embarrassment, boredom, or both. But at the Pub Runs, there’s a place for anyone who likes good food, nice people and scenic runs.”

In addition to the Tuesday night Pub Runs, runners also have the option to participate in the Thursday night Chop Shop runs, as well as Saturday Morning Coffee Runs at Mitchell’s Coffee House, where they will enjoy a free cup of amazing coffee as they cross the finish line.