When avid runner Ray Sacuevo moved to Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood a few years ago, he noticed that the city’s east end lacked the same run crew culture that had become so prominent in the west end in recent years. He and a couple friends — Nicole Mickelow, Joshua Roy and Jamie Barlow — set out to create an inviting run club for all abilities based in the Riverdale/Leslieville area, hoping to unite runners in the neighbourhood the way Parkdale had done so successfully.
“We really wanted to partner up with a location so that we had a meeting space,” says Sacuevo. He hoped that in creating a home base, the group would adopt a socializing aspect that would extend beyond the runs. He also knew that partnering with a local business would help underscore the mission of the group: to strengthen the community through a shared activity.
Sacuevo became acquainted with the folks at Eastbound Brewing Co., a brewpub on Queen Street East, who coincidentally were looking to build a run crew of their own. The head chef, Tara Lee, ran with The Food Runners and some other staff members were interested in running as well. Eastbound Brewing Company was one of two breweries, along with Saulter Street Brewery Inc., to host runners before and after the 2018 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon medal reveal.
“From the start, Eastbound was very supportive of the group and its concept,” says Sacuevo.
And so, Eastbound Run Crew was born in late-2017.
The group has runners of all levels, with all sorts of goals. Sacuevo is a 12-time marathoner, and loves that many new runners have come out with the group for the first time and are beginning to fall in love with the sport the way he has. The group meets at 6:15 p.m. for a shorter run (5K or 8K) on Mondays, and for a long run on Sundays at 9 a.m. With a good number of runners, there are pace groups so everyone can run at the pace they’re most comfortable with and not be alone. After the run, the group sticks around for a beer at Eastbound Brewing Company, getting to know each other and just hanging out.
As the group continues to grow — Sacuevo is happy that there are now over 20 runners at each of the workouts — they’ve expanded their offerings, too. They partnered with X3 Training, a multisport club led by triathlete Michael Liberzon, for weekly Thursday night speed workouts on the track and on the hills at Riverdale Park East. They’ve now got team singlets and are working on building out their presence in the community, thanks to lots of marketing help from Eastbound and their current members.
Several members of EBRC will run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October, racing varying distances from the 5K to marathon.
“We’ve structured our workouts around the marathon, so that runners can come out with us and complete the distances they need on Sunday leading up to Oct. 21,” he explains.