On The 9 Run Crew Builds Community Through Running

On the 9 Run Crew was established by a group of South side runners, with the mission to make endurance running accessible on the South Side through the
pillars of inclusion, community and equity. PHOTO PROVIDED BY NEISHE RUSSELL.
On the 9 Run Crew was established by a group of South side runners, with the mission to make endurance running accessible on the South Side through the pillars of inclusion, community and equity. PHOTO PROVIDED BY NEISHE RUSSELL.

On The 9 Run Crew Builds Community Through Running

By Tia Carol Jones

A community of runners have made their mark by running on the South Side. On the 9 Run Crew began on Feb. 24th, with a run, which started from the Regal Theater to the Mahalia Jackson Court on 79th and State St. On the 9 Run Crew was founded by Neishe Russell, Philip Weatherspoon, Tess Branklin and Danya Rosen. They wanted to run on the South side in communities like Chatham, Avalon Park and South Shore.

“We are all South side runners, there’s nothing wrong with the South side, I feel safe here, let’s run on the South side,” Russell said.

The run season begins with the Shamrock Shuffle and ends with the Chicago Marathon. To keep their endurance, runners often go on runs as a collective, creating run crews. It builds camaraderie and helps the runners stay motivated. There are several run crews in Chicago, some are powered by Nike and others by Brooks. For people who like to run, sometimes they find it more rewarding to run with other people. Run crews can be as small as two people and can grow over time.

The founders came up with the name On The 9 for the run crew because people call 79th Street the 9. With On the 9 Run Crew, Russell and the other runners want to normalize people running on the South side. She said when people see the group running on 79th Street, people ask them questions and they are even giving the runners encouragement along the way.

“It feels really empowering, it makes me feel really good. It makes you feel really good that you woke up in the morning and ran,” she said.

Russell loves Chicago. She moved back to the city from the suburbs. She wants to bring awareness to the community and has been looking for different restaurants in the community the runners can support once they finish their runs.

“From this run community we’ve just built these long-lasting friendships and it feels really natural to be with each other,” she said.

On that first run from the Regal to the Mahalia Jackson Court there were 24 runners that joined with the group. Since then, they have been running every Saturday at 9 a.m. and they meet at the 63rd Street Beach. During that time, the runners discuss personal running goals they’ve reached and are able to share with the group before they run.

The hobby also can help people train for races and can promote health and wellness. To prepare for the Shamrock Shuffle, On the 9 Run Crew had a shake out run where they ran two miles. The goal isn’t not to overexert themselves close to race day but to shake their legs out the day before. In April, a few of the runners will go to Milwaukee to participate in a Half Marathon. Russell and two other runners are ambassadors for Venture Endurance Runnings, which puts on the Hot Chocolate Run.

Russell is excited about the prospect of more trails on the South side, like the Englewood Trail and the Bronzeville Trail project. She believes it is a great opportunity to bring running to the South side, which can increase the health of the people in the community.

For more information about On The 9 Run Crew, people can follow them on Instagram at onthe9runcrew.


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