Running revolution

What started as a group of friends pounding the pavement in the early hours, the Unley Run Club in South Australia has blossomed into a popular gathering spot.   

Club members enjoy a 5km run on Saturday morning. Photo: Isabella McGreevy

Led by brothers Henry and Nick Young, club members meet every Wednesday and Saturday at dawn for a run and a coffee.  

“We started running and thought (the club) was a good way to keep us accountable and to build a community around the café,” club co-founder Henry said, referring to his cafe Unley Social, where the club operates from.

From humble beginnings of about 15 participants in June 2023, it has now amassed more than 100 attendees each week, with peaks of 125 runners in the last month.  

“We had an event with the Running Company and then New Balance came out in November, and it just blew up from there,” Henry said.

Beyond physical activity, the Unley Run Club has become a hub for fostering a sense of community.  

“We’ve seen the same people here each week – Unley locals as well as people from interstate and overseas who we’ve met through the club,” Henry said.  

Natasha Mao, who moved to Unley from Sydney, says the club was her first opportunity to meet people. 

“It’s great. I came here knowing nobody and everyone made me feel so welcome,” she said.  

“The health benefits are just an added bonus.”  

Henry suggested the current running craze could be attributed to a combination of social media and the cost-effectiveness of running, compared with traditional social activities.

“I think social media pushes (running) a lot, but it’s also a very cheap way to get together,” he said. 

“People are moving away from bars and alcohol and those more expensive ways of socialising and toward a more health-focused way of getting to know people.” 

This is supported by data from the Adelaide Economic Development Agency, which shows that spending in the first three months of 2024 was down 9% in bars and clubs, and spending during night time hours was negative every month in the second half of 2023.  

For the Unley Run Club, there are plans for more collaborations with fitness brands to expand its reach and impact.  

Henry urges people at home contemplating joining a running club to give it a go. 

 “You’ve got nothing to lose,” Henry said.

“It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s a great bunch of people … and it’s free.” 

For those eager to lace up their shoes and join the movement, you can find Unley Run Club via Instagram at @unleyrunclub or through the website at


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