“We are about each other and our community!”

In this post-pandemic period, I’ve noticed a notable shift in how people engage with fitness, particularly in the community of running groups versus the online exercise platforms of Peloton, Echelon, and NordicTrack. During the pandemic, those companies pivoted quickly to create an online community to run and cycle with. However, as restrictions lifted, interest in community-based in-person activities renewed. Local running groups have experienced increased participation as people seek the camaraderie and motivation that comes from group meet-ups.  Recently I connected with Jen Shubzda to discuss this. Jen is one of the founding members of Emmaus, PA-run group Trip Tees.

Jen, an educator and ultra-runner, is motivated to push her physical envelope and demonstrates her healthy habits, hard work, and mindset for her students. It is paying off for Jen. She won the Long Run 6-Hour race and came in 3rd place overall at the Philadelphia Trail Marathon as a master’s runner.

Jen and some friends created Trip Tees in the summer of 2020 while enjoying beverages at Triple Sun Spirits and Yergey’s Brewing. The group uses Facebook to coordinate events and runs while giving back to the community. The online group has over 500 members, with approximately 100 in-person participants showing up 20-30 at a time on Thursday nights for the group run. Jen describes the group as “… a very social running group. We enjoy running, beverages, and friendship. We have become a family that trains together, cheers one another, and runs destination races together.”  It’s the family approach that makes the group runs special.  Jen validated what I noticed as a participant: she described the group runs as “We never leave anyone behind. We welcome all paces from walkers, to run / walkers, Boston Qualifiers, and ultra-runners. We help our members with reaching goals while having fun.”

The Trip Tees running group likes to have fun, their annual Easter Bunny Run features hidden eggs on the run course. The eggs are filled with candy and prizes BUT chasing the Easter Bunny (in full costume) to win a free beer is the most sought-after prize at the event.

The group gives back. Last Spring of 2023 Trip Tees held a contest to see which of the three admin teams could cover the most miles in a month. The donations were also amazing (you could buy miles too) Team Jen won and her charity of choice was the Lehigh Humane Society. Trip Tees raised over $700. Following the success of that event, the group stepped up again in the Spring of 2024.  Jen signed up for Emmaus High School’s Shave for the Brave. Male members of Trip Tees offered to shave their facial hair if they raised over $500. They hit that goal in less than 24 hours with Jen being the top individual fundraiser! Members of Trip Tees attended the event. Jen had hair halfway down her back before the shave and now is sporting a sweet pixie cut. The group raised over $4000 including my donation.

Next up for Trip Tees is the Not Olympic Olympics on July 28th and a scavenger hunt for charity.  Check out the group on Facebook. Better yet, get off the smartphone and out of your home and join a group run.

The group runs from Yergey Brewing (235 Main Street, Emmaus, PA, 18049) on Thursday nights starting at 6:30 sharp. Hang out afterward for beverages and conversation.

~ Written by Coach Jon

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