www.montereycountyweekly.com january 25-31, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 21 desire to reach out to runners outside of Monterey/Pacific Grove—“Seaside needed some love,” cofounder Marc Rodriguez explains. “It’s really hard when you’re over 30 to meet people,” OtherRunners runner Lauren Reagan says. “So it’s nice to meet people who have a common interest.” If recent longform news profiles have made it seem like run clubs are a new trend, then the Wednesday Night Laundry Runners is a long-running (pun intended) exception. Established in 1965, the group meets Wednesdays in the Lucky’s parking lot in Pacific Grove to head out for a four-and-a-half mile (winter) run through town or a six-mile (summer) jaunt into the Del Monte Forest. When Emily Cole moved to the area in 2014, her friends suggested that she join a pickup Ultimate Frisbee group as a way to meet people. “You’re moving to a beach town in California,” she recalls those friends reasoning. “Don’t tell me there’s not a pickup Ultimate group. And here’s the thing: They’re almost always super nice and super chill.” Through Ultimate, Cole was invited to join WNLR. At first she wasn’t sure about the name (the group is named for its original meeting point near the now-closed Mission Linen Supply)— “and then I did come and I was like, ‘Oh, this is actually really fun.’” Unlike the Fleet Feet group or OtherRunners, WNLR has no corporate sponsor. Membership ($20 a year, strongly encouraged for regulars but not a requirement to run with the group) promises free pizza parties and an annual holiday party, plus discounts at The Treadmill. The organization became a nonprofit in 2020 and runs a scholarship program for Monterey County track and cross-country athletes (at the high school level) who are pursuing a college education. Since 2001, WNLR have given-out over $175,000 to over 170 graduating seniors in Monterey County. In 2018/2019 the founders of the club were ready to pass the mantle on to a younger generation, and Cole became president of the group, organizing and leading the weekly runs with a sociable ease. In addition to the Wednesday runs, and a new Wednesday night route started this fall in Marina, “Saturdays are big,” Cole says. The group meets at different locations each Saturday (recent runs have taken place in downtown Carmel, Palo Corona, along the coast near Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove) to keep things interesting. You don’t have to be an accomplished runner to join a run club. While most organized runs by local groups tend to be in the “Oh, this is actually really fun.” Daniel Dreifuss