Get to Know Your Running Clubs - Bay Area Running Club
In this edition of Get to Know Your Running Clubs we chatted with Jennifer Wells, the President of the Bay Area Running Club (BARC). Want to learn more about them? Read on!
Tell us a bit about the club history, how did BARC get started?
BARC started in 1975 as a group of runners from Johnson Space Center, who formed the club due to their shared interest in their favorite hobby. After they attended some races in Houston, they witnessed other clubs competing for awards as part of what is now the Houston Area Road Runners Association (HARRA). This inspired the members to gather more local runners and take steps to meet the requirements to be an official member of HARRA so that they could compete in HARRA competitions. BARC's early years saw several wins in these competitions, specifically in the master's category. BARC has been a strong member of HARRA since then, and it has grown substantially to currently boast over 400 members.
What area(s) of the city does your group usually run in/around?
We run primarily in the Clear Lake area southeast of Houston, which includes our locally supported races and weekly track workouts, social runs, and long run Sundays. However, we also run in Houston, Galveston, League City, Seabrook, Pearland, Friendswood, Baytown, Pasadena, and other areas where we have a large contingent of our club at races. We compete in the HARRA Fall and Spring series races, which are typically held near downtown Houston.
Nice! Tell us a bit about your members
We include runners of all levels! We have runners who are local elites, walkers, race winners, beginners, Boston-qualifiers, lifelong runners, trail racers, non-racers, volunteers, health-focused, community-focused, and social-focused. We have members aged from a few months old to 80+ years, and some runners are also cyclists, swimmers, triathletes, cross-fitters, hikers, and adventure racers. It is important to BARC that a breadth and depth of runner experiences are present in the club. In our opinion, that is the best way to recruit and retain members. People tend to be more comfortable when there are other members who have the same history and goals as they do.
Where/when do you usually meet and run?
BARC generally meets three times per week: Tuesday morning track at 5:15AM at a local Clear Creek ISD high school (location varies), Thursday evening social runs around 6PM at various locations (On The Run running specialty store, restaurants, bars, and parks), and Sunday morning long runs at 6:30AM at the Seabrook Trails. There have also been Tuesday evening social runs at Bakfish Brewery in Pearland and more casual Saturday runs organized by members (time and location varies).
Is the club affiliated with any events?
BARC heavily runs in, promotes, and volunteers for the Space City 10-Miler, Bay Area Turkey Trot, Lunar Rendezvous 5K, Outrigger's 5K, and several Running Alliance Sports (RAS) events. The RAS events include Seabrook Lucky Trails, Yuri's Night 5K, Baytown Bud Heat Wave, Toughest 10K Kemah, Toughest 10K Galveston, and the La Porte Half Marathon. Additionally, BARC participates in the HARRA Fall and Spring Series each year and places highly in the club and team competitions, which are contingent upon running and volunteering participation in each club.
Any cool routes/ favourite areas to run in your city that you would like to recommend to other runners? Why do you like those?
The Seabrook trails, which begin at Rex Meador Park, are some of the prettiest trails in the area. They have recently been expanded to add distance towards Red Bluff Road, and they lead to Pine Gully Park right next to the water. There are options to run from Rex Meador to the Kemah Boardwalk, Clear Lake Shores, and the Kemah Bridge, which are great for hill training and long runs.
The 10-mile loop is the same route as the Space City 10-Miler which goes around Armand Bayou. This route connects to Clear Lake and Bay Area Parks, which are great for water breaks or added mileage.
The Red Bluff Trails can be reached from the 10-mile loop, which go from Bay Area Blvd. to Holly Bay Park in Pasadena.
The Greenbelt is a trail within a local neighborhood which runs just over 2 miles.
Finally, Jack Brooks Park is a great area for technical trail running.
Do you have any favourite races? Outside of anything that you’re affiliated with
Aside from the previously mentioned races with which BARC is affiliated, I really like the Houston Half Marathon in October. The Island Girl Triathlon in September and the Run Girl Half Marathon in December have also become some favorites in recent years and are put on by a few of our local running community leaders.
Anything else we should know?
I want anyone who has any interest in, or even curiosity about, the running community to not be intimidated about joining our club! You don't have to be an experienced runner or win awards all the time to be a member. We don't ask for a running resume (although if you'd like to share, we'd love to get to know more about you!), and there is no time trial. All you have to do is sign up and have fun, whether that involves serious competition or social events or getting moving for health purposes, or all of the above!
Want to learn more?
Want to connect with the Bay Area Running Club, or just learn a bit more about them? Check out their information below: