Issaquah Alps Trail Running Club celebrated their 100th run by meeting the Issaquah troll, Jakob Two Trees, and ended with a celebratory potluck that filled two portable tables.
The club started nearly two years ago when Kelly Jiang, a local Issaquah resident, was looking for a new running club.
Before the pandemic, Jiang said she was already associated with another running club.
“It was a really great way to make friends when I first kind of moved back here after college,” she said.
Once pandemic protocols were lifted, Jiang missed the community aspect the club brought. Her partner suggested they start their own club.
Jiang and their partner gathered their friends, and on Sept. 21, 2021, the small group of runners began to conquer their first trail.
Throughout the winter, Jiang said one runner would bake sweets almost every week for the group.
After daylight savings, Jiang said they were reaching their limits with sweet treats, and the longer days provided them time to do a potluck after the run.
The potluck was one aspect that brought out a bigger group of runners — some people just came for the food.
“I think that [food] is such a great part of community building because … literally in every culture from our human history, sharing food is like one of the prime opportunities for building community and bonding,” Jiang said.
Since the first run, the group has gone from a handful of runners with a couple of sweet treats to an average of 30 people who bring items ranging from pizza ovens to bake customized pizzas to torches for creme brulee.
“It’s really like potluck anarchy,” Jiang chuckled.
Though the running club started just as a way to meet friends, Jiang has also implemented advocacy runs for the nonprofit she works for called the Issaquah Alps Trail Club.
The nonprofit focuses on the conservation of trails and wildlife. One Tuesday run, some runners held signs that said, “Save Coal Creek.” Another five runners held pieces of pink and blue cardboard, which formed into a salmon when they stood shoulder to shoulder.
This run promoted the Save Coal Creek campaign, which entailed the City of Bellevue purchasing a 12-acre property to protect a wildlife corridor between Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Bellevue’s Coal Creek Natural Area from developers.
The club runs every Tuesday at 6 p.m. The trail location changes every week and is posted on the Issaquah Alps Trail Running Club Facebook page and on Strava.
Trails range from five to seven miles, with a range of 800 to 2,000 feet of gain, depending on the route.
However, Jiang said trail running involves walking and power hiking too.
“Power hiking as they call it, because you have to make it sound intense and not just like you’re walking,” Jiang said.