The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the phrase “bridge the gap” as: “to connect two things or to make the difference between them smaller.” Put into the context of running and run crews, it’s a pretty on-point definition.
The Bridge the Gap definition I’ve become familiar with via Run Dem Crew, a run crew out of London, is an event, “that brings all of the global urban running crews together under one roof … Bridge The Gap connects the dots between running culture, lifestyle, music, art and creativity with events around the globe where crews come together to meet, run, create and party together.”
Bridge the Gap is unique in the way runners from across the globe connect at a major event (usually a race) hosted by a running crew in its own city. Everyone is welcomed to the BTG family, regardless of fitness level or background — and that’s what makes this movement so special. With races held all over the world in places like Tokyo, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, the BTG movement has been building; it’s probably already taken place in your city or a city near you. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across a photo on your Instagram feed with the hashtag #BRIDGETHEGAP or #BTG. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to be involved with a BTG event.
The most recent Bridge the Gap event took place in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. BTG DC’s event was hosted by District Running Collective, a D.C.-based running crew and centered around the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run.
THE RUNNING CREW DISTINCTION
If you’re wondering why there is a consistent reference toward running crews and not running groups, there is a difference. A crew differs from a group in the sense that running crews include adventure, exploration and, yes, post-run cocktails in their lineup. A crew is usually based in an urban area, and it may consist of people who have never identified as runners before. That is not to diminish the fact that running is still taken seriously within a crew, but running tends to go beyond personal pace; it’s a social outlet as much as it is a form of exercise.
My first introduction to BTG was during the summer of 2014 when running crews from across the globe gathered in New York City for a week-long celebration hosted by one of the running crews that started it all, the NYC Bridge Runners. I was in awe of how international the BTG family is with crews from as far as Toronto, London, Paris and Russia all gathered in NYC. I was amazed at how one single event could bring together so many different nationalities — and how quickly everyone connected.
BRIDGE THE GAP D.C.
More than a year in the making, BTG D.C. took place over the course of five days with various scheduled events that highlighted Washington, D.C., history and the District Running Collective culture.
I arrived on Friday evening, picked up my bib and checked in to my Airbnb with my good friends from Resident Runners, another NYC-based running crew known for its Thursday evening runs out of Soho and monthly taco runs in Brooklyn. Then I headed to The Night Monument Run.
The run began at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and even on a cold, rainy evening, the sheer energy that sparks when all the running crews gather for a BTG event was as wild as ever. All 75 of us ran the 5-mile course together — many current running friends and many soon-to-be running friends — under a soft pink sky as the rain clouds began to clear. Running in this historic city was the best way to settle into the weekend — and an amazing way to take in the monuments of our nation’s capital.
The run finished at Wunder Garten where we dried out in a tented beer garden with towels and light snacks. As the night went on, more and more runners arrived, and we continued the feel-good vibes of the first major night of BTG DC over brews, tacos and good conversation.
On Saturday morning, everyone gathered at the Potomac River Running DC store for a light run before race day — in running crew lingo, we refer to these runs as a “shake-out run.” The route took us to the White House for a group photo and back to the store for bagels and coffee. That evening we enjoyed dinner at Big Chief in Ivy City, as Rahsaan Rogers of Resident Runners DJ’ed all night. At dinner, we all got a swag bag full of specialty BTG DC gear: patches, T-shirts, running planners and pins. We also had the opportunity to customize our race-day outfits with a spray-painting booth.
Our pre-race celebration might be pretty unconventional for some runners, but running to us is one big party — so that’s how we roll.
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The sun came out for race day. Sunday morning was the first truly sunny day of the week, and everything came to full bloom. Given the race name, the course was suitably filled with cherry blossoms, and upwards of 23,000 runners. It was, as the race is described: “The Runner’s Rite of Spring.” Miles 6 and 9 brought us to the best parts of the course: the BTG DC Cheer Squad. If you don’t run, you must cheer, as we like to say — and there’s never a shortage of cheering or high-fiving in this community. We soak in this moment when the confetti cannon goes off, and the energy carries you to the finish line.
Charlie Dark, founder of London’s Run Dem Crew, and one of the co-founders of BTG, described it best the first night when we huddled together before taking off on the Night Monument Run. “We are ambassadors of movement” he said — and that is the most important takeaway as you find yourself re-entering your life after a BTG trip.
Forget how fast you are, where you come from, what you wear, who you associate with — all of it. Bridge the Gap brings us together despite all of that. This community-driven event connects you with people in every part of the world, ignites a fire in you, and gives you an entirely new sense of community. You’ll probably even sign up for races in cities you’ve never been to, and you’ll have a hell of a lot of more fun running than you ever did before.
Join the movement, find a running crew near you, and seek out the next BTG event. Folks are already buzzing about BTG Berlin in September … see you there?
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN