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Featured Group – Chi City Running Club

By Jimmy

If you saw our pieces on Running Nashville or Running Atlanta you know that we find groups/people to run with when we travel. Group runs are so rewarding for reasons too many to list. Since we are finding random groups to run with away from home we thought…there’s so many groups in Chicagoland, why not find some to run with while we’re home?

Jessie Duran listed her local running group, the Chi City Running Club, in our Run Group Directory. She invited us out to come run with her group on Chicago’s lakefront path a few weeks ago. Amanda had a bachelorette party getaway so I recruited my friends Missy & Ed to drive to the city and join the club on their run. I’m all for meeting new people, especially on one of the most scenic paths around.

Upon arrival at the meeting site we were warmly greeted by the group. All were dressed in some very cool black tops with a green & white Chi City Running Club (CCRC) logo. Some had these awesome hoodies on which were ideal for the chilly, windy day. The arms and backs of the hoodies housed the tagline “We Train with a Purpose”. After a brief introduction and photo, we headed north from 31st St along the lakefront path.

Missy, Ed, and Jimmy with the CCRC
Missy, Ed, and Jimmy with the CCRC

The group split up quickly due to different paces. Missy & I had a long run the day before so we kept the pace down. Jessie was very kind to stay back with us along with a few other CCRC teammates. We got to meet a group of sisters, Carmen, Lidia and Lupe. Lupe is a newer runner but you never would have known since she was cruising.

Getting to know Jessie in that short period was pretty amazing. Her passion for the club is evident in every word and action. Her positive energy is contagious. We talked a bit about the group, their runs, their travels together and upcoming races. Not only is she passionate, but truly genuine comes to mind as well.

Jessie Duran---As passionate as they come!
Jessie Duran—As passionate as they come!

Our time together was very short because we had to turn back at mile 3 while Jessie and some others needed to continue. We parted ways and agreed to do a Q & A follow-up because I wanted to write about this tight-knit group. Here’s the Q & A segment:

Jimmy: How long have you personally been running?

Jessie: I started running in 2009. My primary goal was to lose weight. I started running on my own in my neighborhood until a friend of mine invited me to join him along the lakefront. The scenery was breathtaking. He then encouraged me to run a race, something I thought I’d never do. We ran the Frank Lloyd Wright 10k in Oak Park. That race changed the course of my running. I loved everything about it; from prepping my kit the night before, to the rookie mistakes I made, to crossing that finish line. I never considered myself a runner until that day.


Jimmy: Why do you love running so much?

Jessie: Running is a significant part of my lifestyle. I love running because it motivates and challenges me to work hard and become a better version of me. It makes me feel alive. I am consumed by the energy around me. Despite all the wonderful benefits it has on our health, I love running because of how rewarding it has been. It has put extraordinary people in my life. I am extremely proud of Chi City Running Club. Every single member adds value to the team. I continue to meet many wonderful people from the running community who share similar passions. Running connects people and changes lives in ways unimaginable.


Jimmy: Why did you start the Chi City Runners?

Jessie: Chi City Running Club began in January 2013 as a collective effort between 4 individuals, who were passionate about running. We wanted to provide a positive outlet for running with an emphasis on unconditional support that is results driven. Additionally, we saw a need for a running club in the Pilsen/Bridgeport area.


 Jimmy: How did you come up with your club name?

Jessie: Our name reflects our love for the city. We wear and run with it proudly. Whether we are running along the lakefront overlooking the beautiful Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan, or through the city streets (including parks and tracks) of the Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods, we never tire of the landscape of this city, our Chi City.


Jimmy: How many members in your group?

Jessie: We have approximately 50 active members.

Jimmy: Tell me more about your travel runs as a group. I recall you mentioned a France trip?

Jessie: CCRC literally runs the world! We love planning destination races and make a vacation out of it! Some of the places our runners have gone include: Paris, France; Moscow, Russia; Puerto Rico, San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; Napa Valley, CA; Mexico City, Mexico; Guadalajara, Mexico. Grand Canyon; CO; Florida Keys, FL; Philadelphia, PA.

CCRC Rocking DC
CCRC Rocking DC

Jimmy:  How often does your group meet for runs and where?

Jessie: We meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our locations vary. As of late, we have been meeting at the National Teacher’s Academy’s track on Tuesdays. On Thursdays, we meet at 16th and Jefferson and head to the lakefront. On Sundays, we generally meet at 8 a.m. at 31st Street beach or Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien, IL.


Jimmy: What do you love most about the group? What is most rewarding?

Jessie: There are numerous things I love about the group. I love how passionate and dedicated our members are about running and how we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. It’s great to see how many wonderful friendships have been formed within the team. We also have some of the most supportive individuals you’ll meet! If anyone from the team has a race coming up, we’ll be sure to have a cheer squad present on race day! This is a great way to show support for the runner and team!

While training can be demanding, we always have fun celebrating everyone’s accomplishments. Our motto is “train with a purpose.” Our training is goal-orientated and results-driven. While running recreationally is fun, running to achieve a goal can be just as fun.


Jimmy: Any special stories you are willing to share?

Jessie: It’s difficult to find one particular story when surrounded with a team of impressive individuals.  The diversity within the group is remarkable, different ages, different paces, different goals, but all the same heart and soul and always supportive.  We have team members recovering from significant injury, personal set-backs, chronic illness, and even life threatening illness. We are a group that both gives and receives inspiration on a regular basis.


Jimmy: Please share any additional information that speaks to the uniqueness of Chi City Running

Jessie: CCRC is a running club that is also a family.  It provides an environment that fosters an atmosphere of inclusivity and celebrates every individual.  Elite runners and novices share in the others triumphs and work to encourage each other.  There is room for every kind of runner in our group.

Another unique aspect of CCRC is the fact that we have many talented and experienced individuals willing to share their knowledge in various areas. For example, we have ultramarathoners and (male and female) triathletes on our team who have encouraged others and provided guidance in their pursuit of more challenges, such as completing a half ironman. They are a great resource to those who are training for their first triathlon.

A key member, Vanessa Mugnani-Flores, is a Certified Natural Trainer (CNT), SFG 1 (certified kettle bell instructor), SFB (certified body weight trainer_, and NET (nutritional educator trainer). She has been instrumental in helping our runners stretch properly post-runs to prevent injuries and promote mobility in our joints. Last summer, she taught a 1-hour eischens yoga class after our long runs on Sunday mornings at 31st Street beach. The view of the Chicago skyline and sounds of the waves of Lake Michigan couldn’t be any more perfect for yoga! Needless to say, yoga was an integral part of our training.


Jimmy: How can people find more info on your group?

Jessie: Visit us on Facebook at: or contact Jessie Duran at 708-997-2252.

This was yet another tremendous experience meeting new friends out on the run. We can’t wait to do it again soon.

If you are part of a running club or group and want to list on our site please Click Here

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