In the spirit of embracing change, all the while looking for change, I decided some years back to make a running change. I showed up for a group run, with complete strangers, in a city many people steer clear of. I moved to Detroit from a small town in rural Montana and anyone who heard I was coming to The Motor City for college tried to talk me out of it. This change however, has given me a chance to take notice of the beautiful and changing Detroit, even just within the years I have been here. Since moving, I have fallen in love with the spirit of Detroit, which now has become one of my friend’s and my weekly running playgrounds, with no two runs ever being the same. Once, while playing, I lost a bet to a running friend. Wether or not I really lost is still up for debate and so the reward money was said to be changed into pennies and spread out along the roads of my running routes. Since that day, I stop for change.
Stopping in to the Downtown Detroit Runners and Walkers has quite sincerely been the best change I’ve found. Of course it’s like any group, it took a couple times (well ok, a couple times a couple) of me timidly showing up where the only other person I knew was a person I didn’t really know. But, the group religiously huddles up, rain, shine, or wind, calls out their name, and then like a gun-start………runs. We run the city streets of Detroit and we run them fast.
The paces of club members are as varied as the personalities that make up the group, and the city we run in for that matter. But, rest assured there is no shortage of pace choices or routes to run. You can run fast, treating the run as a tempo. There are the leaders and there are the chasers. Or, you can run and chat with some of the greatest story tellers there may be. There is a group of dedicated walkers. Some weeks will find a few members pushing youngsters in strollers. And even still, on occasions, paces collide because we just want to stick together. There is the opportunity to push yourself to hold a pace for just as long as possible and then fall off to recover yet, always knowing that week by week, you too will change and keeping up for the entire run is not out of reach.
Much like the city we run, the group is rich in running accomplishments and history, as it began long before it was trendy to be in the D. The club is full of running story lore, world-record holding members, and change. Each Tuesday will find the club running from a different Detroit establishment and either a 4 or a 6 mile route typically mapped for runners and walkers. This unique take on the group run allows for every nook and dead-end street to be toured; if you come round long enough. There is an intimacy gained when one explores a city on foot.
This weekly changing venue allows for club members to explore, with their soles, all the streets of the city. Each Tuesday brings new roads and changing views of the city. These are the roads that paved the way for the rest of the world to follow and now, it is our rhythmic cadence of soles meeting the pavement, the cobblestone, the bricks, and the grit that is Detroit. Runners follow one another and take in the views of the urban art painted on building canvases and erected throughout the city. There’s stunning pre-depression architecture such as the Guardian and examples of Art Deco like the Penombscot building. We take in the views of the city skyline, the culture of Hamtramack, the smells of Mexican Village, the creativity in the Urban Put-Put, economic upswing in Midtown, Corktown, my Alma Mater Wayne State, glorious Cathedrals, the saving of our culture in the Museum District, salvaging auto history such as the Packard Plant, blooms of Urban Gardens and the continually developing Dequinder Cut.
Runners are gifted the weekly breathe taking views of the ambassador bridge, which stretches over the Detroit River, as the sun dips down, sparkling off the metal and sinks into the river. The shimmering colors of pinks, blues, and purples wrap the sky as a final gift of the day. The ships pass under, their lights beginning to twinkle in navigation, reminding runners of the start of Michigan’s waterway commerce and first days of fur trading and forts.
A personal viewing favorite is seeing fellow book lovers out for walks, opening up the lending libraries that have been established now along the Riverwalk and Cass Ave. Detroiters can be seen playing volleyball over by the carasel and the increase of foot traffic along the growing Riverwalk is noticed as dodging these pedestrians has become something to actually consider when developing potential running routes. Club members politely swoosh past Detroiters who cheer us on while they wait for their buses or the People Mover.
These are the strong people of the city who have come before, who have left and who continue to leave their story that builds Detroit. These same roads that have seen more change than any one run could capture; why the club has endured. To be witness to the change that so often can’t be seen when one sees the view daily, but to others, those a little less frequent, can be awed by the uncountable changes.
Much like the talented members of our club, many of which are chasing big running goals, life goals, and building strong ties amongst one another that go far beyond the miles we run.
Now, I too, have added to the bricks and foundation of the changing city and am a piece of the D and our ever evolving, growing and changing, running club.
Upon returning from the run, club members can then enjoy the cuisine of the night’s establishment, drink, and comrodary that satisfies our souls. Members reunite after the run, high five and congratulate one another’s efforts as people make their way back. It’s a fiercely loyal lot of people that may not always wait on the run, but at the end never don’t wait for you to return.
Sometimes you have to make a big change to find your best stride. Each run allows me to discover so much change, just not always on the ground. So, if you too, are looking for change, come chase or be chased every Tuesday from a different Detroit establishment at 5:45 P.M. Get the schedule for the downtown Detroit Runners and Walkers at