A Community for the Community

Words by Carmen Macri 

 

Whether you enjoy running or not (I do not) and live in Jacksonville, you need to know about the Neptune Run Crew. 

 

The beginning was simple. A few strangers-turned-friends met at a local gym and shared a love for running. While training for the New York City Marathon, they realized how much more fun running was when they ran together. Andrew Mogg, founder of Neptune Run Crew (NRC), is a Jacksonville native with a set running route near the beaches. When he met Keri Clarke, co-founder of NRC, she was new to Jacksonville and looking for a group of like-minded individuals. So the two took their common love for running and decided to capitalize on it.

 

“One day I was just like, ‘Hey, why don’t we, like, make this a thing where we invite our friends to come run with us, and we’ll grab coffee after,’” Mogg explained. “And so we started out with this mindset of just friends, running with friends.”

 

In December 2020, Mogg, Clarke and NRC’s creative director, Daniel Riano, decided to begin including their friends in their daily runs. Initially, they started with a small gathering of 10 to 12 people, which they found quite impressive. The fact that others were interested in running alongside them left Mogg and Clarke astounded. Let’s fast forward to the present day, and the numbers have skyrocketed. They are now effortlessly attracting up to 150 participants for each run. Yes, you read that correctly—150 people.

 

Riano took the initiative to promote NCR on Instagram by sharing his captivating photographs of the runners. As we are well aware of the dynamics of social media, when a single photo is posted, it has the potential to be widely shared and quickly gain attention, spreading like wildfire. As their social media presence grew, so did the number of runners, reaching 10 times its original size. Individuals were drawn to be a part of it. 

 

Every Friday morning, at 6:45, the crew gathers at Lemon Bar in Neptune Beach, embarking on their designated route. The run concludes at Southern Grounds, where Mogg, Clarke, Riano and Southern Grounds generously provide coffee for everyone.

 

“We have everything from elite runners to very, very beginners, you know, that will stop and walk, rollerblade or even come with a bike,” Clarke explained. “The whole thing is about the people. It has nothing to do with your pace. It’s not competitive, by any means. Some people bring their dogs. Some people have their strollers with kids. Honestly, it’s, it’s just so cool.” 

 

Clarke moved to Jacksonville about two years ago and happened to find herself at the same gym as Mogg, who ran every day before hitting the gym. She remembers hearing someone announce, “Here come the runners” and her ears perked up.

 

“Maybe four or five of them would run before class. So I’m sitting in this gym class alone being like, ‘Bye-bye, guys,’” Clarke said. “I finally introduced myself and asked ‘Can I come with you guys before class?’ And Andrew texted me and then every day since. I don’t think we skipped a day.” 

 

The rest was history. The two began training for and running marathons far and wide, and now, they have gathered a large group of runners for their morning routine. Outside of their Friday runs, one Saturday a month, they embark on a long-haul run for the more experienced runners (anyone is welcome, it is just double the distance). And one Wednesday a month, the group partakes in a “happy hour run” in the evening, ending their route at Pete’s Bar for a quick drink. 

 

The Saturday ranges from 10 miles to 15 miles. Clarke expressed that people can go their own pace for however long they wish to run. There are no rules or guidelines to follow. It’s just friends running with friends. Something Mogg and Clarke are both proud of is that many runners have broken their own personal records while running with NCR.

 

“It’s funny, people will be like, ‘No, I’m just here for the five.’ And then they stay for the 10 and then they stay for the 15 and just like pushing themselves, which is cool,” Clarke explained. 

 

They have truly fostered a sense of community within the larger community. After its inception in December, NRC recently obtained non-profit status. Mogg expressed that from the very start, their intention has been to find avenues to serve the community and bring people together. 

 

Watching the crew run, I couldn’t help myself but want to join in on the fun, And I hate running. 

 

To keep up with their runs or participate yourself, follow them on Instagram at @neptuneruncrew.

About Carmen Macri

Since a young age, Carmen Macri knew she wanted to be a writer. She started as our student intern and has advanced to Multi-media Journalist/Creative. She graduated from the University of North Florida and quickly found her home with Folio Weekly. She juggles writing, photography and running Folio’s social media accounts.