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Inside the Koreatown Run Club with Duy Nguyen

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Photo via Koreatown Run Club

"We've come a long way from photoshopping swooshes on everyones shirt to actually having swooshes on everyones shirt."

Duy Nguyen's a longtime friend of our brand, and an all-around standup guy. We've worked with him on both coasts, and have only nice things to say about his work in film and photography. We spoke with him about Koreatown Run Club, the local phenomenon he founded two years ago that has grown from a ragtag bunch of runners into a full-fledged pillar of one of L.A.'s most underrated neighborhoods.

Koreatown Run Club's a big thing now! There's an average of 70 people who come out every weekend, right? How did you start this whole thing?
Yeah, it’s crazy to see how fast it’s grown! We’ll have about 70 or so on average between our Monday, Thursday and Saturday runs. The run club actually started as a failed attempt at a soccer club I wanted to call KFC—Koreatown Football Club. I was and still am into watching and playing soccer and wanted to build a community from the ground up. I approached my friend and KRC co-founder Mike who is heavily tied to the neighborhood of Koreatown and we tried to find a field. Koreatown being a super dense area with not many public spaces, we needed a lot of permits to play and it just wasn’t inclusive enough with 7v7s or 11v11s so that whole thing kind of fizzled out. Then, a few weeks later I went on a work trip to Haiti documenting these runners run 230- something miles across the country. It was something pretty amazing to witness. I saw their grit and mental toughness, but most importantly how it brought these people together. I knew I had to bring that feeling back home. A week later we had rounded up some friends and met at The Line Hotel to go for a three mile run.
Is it mostly people from the neighborhood or do you get friendly interlopers from other places, too?
It started out with people mostly from the neighborhood. Word spreads quick when you see a mob of people run around such a small, dense neighborhood. Today though, we get runners all over Los Angeles from the west side to Pasadena and even down from Long Beach every week. Plus, there’s such a big running community on Instagram, we tend to get a lot of travelers that make it a point to get a run in with us. I love that.
It's cool that you've added tai chi, too. How does that fit into a runner's routine?
Yeah, we just started Tai Chi taught by one of our captains, Hakim. While we tend to do some light meditation and breathing exercises at the beginning of our runs, Tai Chi lets our runners dive deeper into that lifestyle. I feel like we attract runners because of our diversity as well as our attitude towards one another. There’s no ego here. We range from consistent Boston Qualifiers, 100+ mile ultra marathoners to people who have never run before. Everyone’s here for one another and to get a few miles in.

"Koreatown is the only 24 hour neighborhood in Los Angeles. You can stuff your face at an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, go sing karaoke and get a massage all after 2am."

Photo via Koreatown Run Club

So, everyone loves The Line Hotel, but what are you other favorite things about K-town?
Koreatown is the only 24 hour neighborhood in Los Angeles. You can stuff your face at an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, go sing karaoke and get a massage all after 2am. It’s really an overlooked part of Los Angeles.
What's working with Nike like?
We’ve been officially partnering with Nike for a little under a year now. It had always been a goal for us and we've come a long way from photoshopping swooshes on everyones shirt to actually having swooshes on everyones shirt. I love everybody over there. It’s a real family and I think that’s what attracts us to them as well. Mike and I just had the opportunity to be apart of an Audio Guided Run on the Nike+ Run Club app, which was awesome. I like to think somewhere a kid in India is listening and thinking to himself, “I really wish I understood English to hear what these guys are saying."

Photo via Koreatown Run Club

Have you always been a runner? How do you motivate yourself to come out on days you might not feel like it?
I only really started running when we started this club. I still am not the most motivated runner out there despite having created a run club. But what does motivate me is all the people that come out every week and put their miles in. If it wasn’t for them, running alongside these folks, I’d be curled up watching Netflix like the next dude.
Do you have any tips or resources for someone who might like to try to take up running for the first time? Can they join K-Town Run Club?
If you’re even considering going on a run, that’s a great step. I’d say run with a friend or a group. It’ll be hard the first time, but it was for everyone. If you can make it out to three weeks in a row, you’ll be set. And if you need some motivation, I know a crew.

 

 

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