Very few activities, leisurely or otherwise, have been spared from Covid lockdowns. Social dining, gatherings and team sports have all been a victim of strict social distancing protocols here in Oz and abroad. However, one activity has endured, if not boomed in response to us barely being allowed outside at times, and that is the simple art of running. Perhaps it’s a metaphor and we all just want to run away from 2020?
It’s for this reason that we’re stoked to be partnering with the Vipers Run Club this year, whose goal it is to not just get more men out running on the streets and across the trails for the myriad physical benefits it affords, but out doing so to also improve their mental health.
Vipers began as a local running community on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and brought together a host of guys who were looking to get mentally and physically fit. We flicked a few questions the way of Scott O’Brien, one of the Viper’s ring leaders, or snake charmers if you will, to get his thoughts on what it’s like to go running during this unprecedented time.
Meet the crew - a welcoming bunch of legends. Credit: @vipers.rc
LB: Hey Scott, how are you mate?
Good mate, thanks. Rolling with the punches over the last few months, but I’m enjoying being on the Northern Beaches during this time. I also got a dog back in March that’s been keeping me busy and he’s pretty cute which helps too.
LB: That’s great to hear! Running wouldn’t have anything to do with that would it? ;)
Running has also been a big focus for me over the last few months as initially it was the only way we could justify being outside for a while there, but I’ve really been enjoying my running lately and exploring new parts of Australia through trail running and even some cool runs in my backyard.
The snake pit - Manly NSW, Australia. Credit: @vipers.rc
LB: Have you guys noticed a big surge in the amount of people out running in light of Covid?
Definitely.. it’s been great to see people getting outside and being active during a time like this, and I think that a lot of people have either discovered or re-discovered a love for running and being outdoors in general that’s been pretty amazing to see.
LB: Further to that, have you noticed more people reaching out to join you guys, and more of an onus on mental health during this time?
Yeah, to be honest, we weren’t sure how we would go with the restrictions around groups given we have over 100 members now, but we saw a big influx of people reaching out to us that had seen us online or on social media that were keen to be a part of the community we were building. Now our online presence is strongest we’ve ever been and a large part of that is due to the necessity of staying connected.
The iconic Blueys... not a bad place to roam with mates. Credit: @vipers.rc
LB: We’re guessing social distancing measure has also made it difficult to maintain your weekly run meet-ups? How have you tackled that?
Yeah, we have been running sessions with one in the morning and two in the evening with 20 people limits using Facebook to manage who signs up for each session with a first come - first serve system that’s been working really well. We’ve found that this allows for guys to choose which session suits their day as before we only had one evening session that was hard from some people to make it with work and family stuff.
LB: What’s next for the Vipers and the community you guys are fostering?
We’re focused on bringing awareness to how important mental health is particularly for men and how running in a group can help foster conversations that lead towards facing mental struggles and ways to cope with everyday life. Often we’ve found guys find it difficult to connect with each other outside the pub, and this gives our members a way to put in a hard session, earn your beers after, and get to know a good group of guys looking to make themselves better.
We’re excited to see where we can take this and always open to anyone who's interested that can get in contact with us.
Learn more about the Vipers RC - www.vipersrunclub.com
And don't forget to follow the journey on Instagram or Facebook