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The best running groups, clubs and routes in the East End of London

Victoria Park is a magnet to runners, but our guide to the best running clubs, groups and routes near Roman Road gives inspiration for some less-trodden options as running season is upon us.

Many of us heard last week about British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris, who became the first woman to finish the Barkley Marathon 100-mile race. 

One of the most gruelling endurance races in the world, famously known as ‘The Race That Eats Its Young,’ the Barkley Marathon involves a map and compass and a desperate search for pages of a book on each 20-mile loop, which must be completed within 12 hours.

Paris completed the race with a tiny 99 seconds to spare in the 60-hour cut-off; wow! 

For most of us, though, even the London Marathon pushes us well beyond our comfort zone. Every spring, East London’s parks and canals turn into a training ground for runners hoping to complete the famous 21-mile route around the Thames, which weaves through Narrow Street in Limehouse, the Isle of Dogs, and back up to Shadwell.

We recommend the Yurt Cafe as an ideal place to see runners dashing past while enjoying a coffee from their cafe.  If topping up your training for a mindbending ultra marathon isn’t quite your thing and a 5k around Vicky Park is more your style, then check out the park runs on our doorstep, charities getting young people on track and talented local teams for our area’s aspiring athletes. 

From casual jogs around trusty hotspots like Mile End Park and canalside loops to 10k endurance runs across East London ending with a signature Brick Lane bagel, there is a route and a community for everyone.

The Outrunners in Hackney Wick

BEST FOR: Youngsters and Adults Seeking the Right Track

The Outrunners is a youth charity and adult running club that has stomping grounds just a short hop away in Hackney Wick and Victoria Park. The charity has twin purposes and functions as a charity for young people aged 8-18, as well as an adult running club. Regular beginner sessions for adults start at 9am on Saturdays with improver classes at 7pm on Tuesdays from Hackney Bridge. Alongside these sessions, the club provides mentoring and helps children develop their confidence, leadership skills and career prospects.

The Outrunners HQ can be found at Units DG04, Hackney Bridge, E15 2SJ and for more information go to theoutrunners.co.uk

Mile End Parkrun

BEST FOR: A Trustworthy 5k on your Doorstep

For those familiar with the ‘Couch to 5k’ the Mile End parkrun is ideal and provides a relaxed start for budding runners. Their regular 5k sets off from Mile End stadium on Saturday at 9am and they also organise a 2k junior parkrun on Sunday at 9.30am, but organisers encourage people to arrive half an hour early for a chat and a warm-up. Do not fret if you are not the next Mo Farah, you can simply turn up to watch and enjoy a cup of coffee or a brisk stroll. You may even surprise yourself to find you are indeed fleet of foot.

Find Mile End stadium at 190 Burdett Rd, London E3 4HL and for more information go to parkrun.org.uk/mileend

East London Runners

BEST FOR: A Run and a Brick Lane Bagel

East London Runners, based in Wandstead, has over 250 members and welcomes all abilities. They organise regular runs across the East End, including routes that go through Victoria Park, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a route from Leytonstone to Brick Lane for the adventurous among you. After a rugged run, participants can enjoy a well-earned bagel at Beigel Bake, the last remaining Beigel shop on Brick Lane since the yellow Beigel Shop closed in February 2024. The first three sessions are open to all and club members can partake in races ranging from 5ks to ultra-marathons on road and cross country.

East London Runners is based in Redbridge Lane West, Wanstead, E11 2JZ, but monitor their ‘What’s On’ page for local events near Vicky Park and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. To get involved and for more information go to eastlondonrunners.org.uk

Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets Athletics Club

BEST FOR: Aspiring Athletes and Ambitious Beginners

A charitable trust open to all aged nine and above with a growing membership of around 400, from beginners to team GB athletes. Whether you are one of the East End’s fiercest roadrunners or a rookie seeking training, the club caters for all. Based out of St. Augustine Hall in the north-east end of Vicky Park, participants can partake in track, field, road and cross country runs in a friendly environment.

Find the club at St Augustine’s Hall, Cadogan Terrace, E9 5EG and more information at vphthac.org.uk

Run4Rene at Victoria Park

BEST FOR: A Carefree Jog and a Friendly Chat

Run4Rene has its roots in tragedy but prides itself on contributing to a tangible social good. Set up in 2017 by Stefanie Savri after the suicide of her younger brother Rene, aged just 22, the community group aims to improve mental health through exercise. One of their weekly meet-ups is outside Victoria Park’s Pavilion Cafe for a Saturday session at 10am, run by crew leader Shah Alam. Not only does Run4Rene provide spirit-lifting exercise, but also a vital space for warm discussions as a means of combatting social stigma and isolation.

Run4Rene meet outside Vicky Park Pavilion Cafe on Old Ford Rd, London E9 7DE. Find out more at run4rene.com

Friendly Runners

BEST FOR: Runs and Fun Socials

Friendly Runners is a community group that meets on Fridays and Saturdays, with all abilities and levels of experience welcome. They assemble at 7.15am at Victoria Park Pavilion for a 5k run on Fridays, and 9am on Saturdays at Lodestar Coffee in Hackney for a 10k. The group has previously held summer socials so expect them to live up to their name with future events, whether that’s a testing cross country or a sprint to the boozer.

Friendly Runners meet at Vicky Park Pavilion Cafe and you can find them on social media at instagram.com/yourfriendlyrunners

Come Run With Me in Hackney

BEST FOR: Supreme Running Technique

Come Run with Me in Hackney holds weekly groups for beginner and intermediate runners on Tuesdays. You can train for fun, for races such as their 5k parkruns, or even for the Hackney half marathon. All their leaders are qualified with England Athletics, the nation’s governing athletics body, and their sessions focus on efficient running technique. The group has previously run in Limehouse Basin, Vicky Park, Lea Valley Canal and London Fields and is open to all fitness levels and abilities.

The group currently meets at Princess of Wales Pub, 146 Lea Bridge Rd, Lower Clapton, E5 9RB on Tuesdays at 6.45pm. They are planning a Sunday session in another East London location. Keep an eye for updates at groups.runtogether.co.uk/ComeRunWithMe/Runs

Good Gym in Tower Hamlets

BEST FOR: Feel Good Fitness in the Community

Every week across Tower Hamlets, a group of runners join forces and work out by helping local community projects and run back, all within 90 minutes. They meet at the Town Hall Hotel, drop their bags and run to a Tower Hamlets community organisation chosen by the local Good Gym rep in Tower Hamlets, Laura Williams. You then work hard with the running group, digging, lifting, scraping and clearing for a good cause and then run back with a few intervals, sprints and stretches en route. A qualified trainer will then lend a hand in leading a group stretch and celebrate the community action you all achieved that day! 

Visit Goodgym.org for more info. 

Queer Run Club

BEST FOR: Queer-Identifying Runners

QRC describes itself as a non-judgemental community for queer-identifying people to run together without judgment or fear. Sessions are usually one hour long and led by two coaches Kole Fulmine and Sam Purnell, and two leaders, Dalia Saris and Luke Kene. They run three main sessions, each finishing with a social:

The Tuesday run: ‘The OG run club session! Includes: hill sprints, paced run, sprints, and conditioning. We have a different focus every month. There is a bag drop at Brunswick East and we will stay in Hackney Downs Park.’

The Saturday long run: ‘A long run around Victoria Park meeting outside Thingy Cafe in Hackney Wick. There is a bag drop available, but please come ready to run. We will run 8km with several pacers and stops. We always go for a coffee afterwards!’

The Sunday long long run: ‘These runs will gradually increase from 21km to 35km over a period of 12 weeks. The aim of this run is to build up our longevity and endurance as we increase the mileage. Make sure to come prepared with energy gels, water and warm clothes (if needed). There won’t be a bag drop. We will be running at a 5.30-6.00 min/km pace. You need to be able to run a comfortable 21km to be able to participate.’

If these are a little too ambitious, they also run a monthly ‘New to QRC’ session. 

For more info, visit Queerrunningclub.org

Self-led routes around the East End

BEST FOR: A Picturesque East End Tour

If you want to run on your own, Map My Run suggests a self-led Limehouse loop around our finest canal paths. Begin in Bethnal Green, dash past Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to hidden gem Fish Island and breeze along to Bromley-by-Bow before a quick, or slow, finish in Mile End. This running route gives you a condensed view of our beloved patch while administering a euphoric adrenaline burst.

BEST FOR: Canalside Jogging

Explore this 10.1 km circular trail through Tower Hamlets. It has been marked as an ‘easy’ route—we will let you be the judge of that! It takes around two to three hours to complete and takes you along and around the waterways of the East End. A great place to begin and end your walk is at Limehouse DLR station. From there, head straight down the stairs and continue until you reach Limehouse Basin. The route follows the Limehouse Cut, River Lea, Hertford Union Canal, and Regent’s Canal. It takes you along the side of Victoria Park and almost down to the Thames. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.

The route starts at Limehouse DLR station 

Have a look at another of our articles about the best fitness classes around Roman Road.

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