Jonathan Roberts: Building community through Christiansburg Run Club

Christiansburg Run Club meets Thursday at 6 p.m. near Great Road on Main.

Jonathan Roberts has some wise advice for new runners.

“You’re a runner from the first day you lace up those shoes and go!” he says. “There are *no rules* to running. You don’t have to use Strava or ‘train.’ Just start moving and see where you get. There’s no magic. We’re all just out here running in circles. Just run.”

And, if you need a place to get started, he’s got that covered too. Come to the Christiansburg Running Club’s Thursday night group run, starting at 6 p.m. from Great Road on Main.

Jonathan, Morgan Corl and Sara Yun launched the Christiansburg Run Club in 2019 out of Sara’s yoga studio in Cambria. 

“Our run club is a super relaxed, no-drop kind of run club,” says Jonathan. “We’re here to welcome people into running and make it an inclusive community for everyone.”

The biggest run of the week is Thursday evenings, with about a dozen runners and multiple pace groups covering about 3-4 miles.

“There’s a group that walks and usually two running groups. One group runs around a 9-minute pace per mile and the other group does more like a 12-minute per mile pace. My girlfriend Kristy McCord leads the 12:00 minute group and we have a steady stream of new runners doing that one. It’s great!”

The run club also gathers at Christiansburg Town Hall Mondays at 7:30 p.m. for a walk-only outing and there are occasional morning runs from Brugh Coffee.

Jonathan says helping to start the group is a pretty proud accomplishment.

“I’d really like to work more on building the running community here locally and regionally,” he says. “There’s a huge demand for folks looking to get into running and not wanting to get scared away as they first start out. I think Christiansburg Run Club is doing a phenomenal job at that side of it … while also attracting some fast folks — so it’s pretty all-inclusive.”

Jonathan Roberts  | Age: 29 | Hometown:: Blacksburg

Occupation: Creative Director/Owner, Aspire Marketing Agency

When/how did you start running? I’ve run off-and-on my whole life but only really gotten semi-serious in the last couple of years. Run club has made it really easy to stay committed and I’ve met people like Daniel Kolasa through run club that have really been great, both as a friend and training buddy.   

What keeps you running now? I really like the community aspect. I’m not really that serious of a runner — it’s not like I’m very fast or anything. But I always feel better after a run. Solo runs are fun but the group aspect is really nice. It’s awesome to see the club grow and see how we can welcome a lot of people who don’t see themselves as “runners” start their running journey with us.

Your typical training week? I shoot for around 20 miles a week. I don’t really worry too much about workouts or whatever at this point. A lot of my runs are with people who are getting into things so the pace really varies. I like going to (Runabout Sports’ Wednesday night) Pub Run and seeing how long I can hang with the fast group. (I always get dropped fast!)   

Last race? Draper Mile. Never again (Give me about 11 months to forget and I’ll be there next year)!   

Next race? Triwizard Trimile is this weekend. And then the Hokie Half is the next race.  

Favorite race? I’m still new to that scene but I’m enjoying 10 mile and half marathon distances. It’s just enough race that endurance starts to come into play and not just raw speed.  

Favorite run or workout? We do Fartlek runs completely wrong in Christiansburg and it’s really fun. Basically, we do a “follow the leader” run where everyone takes turns calling the next sprint and then everyone does it and regroups. It’s super fun and helps people learn to run faster. Run to that mailbox…ready…go!!!” and then sprint. Repeat for 3-4 miles.  

Favorite places to run? Pandapas is fun. Horse Nettle/Snake Root/May Apple is a really solid loop and really beautiful. Really, I just like running. Wherever is good.

Most satisfying running accomplishment? I ran my first half marathon pretty soon into the start of COVID. I ran on the New River Trail, completely solo — no music or anything even. Just me and a water bottle. It was really serene and I got in the zone nicely. I hit a 1:49 for my first half, which felt really good and is a good time to try to beat now. I was happy with how my training came together for that at a time when I wasn’t really running with anyone other than my girlfriend, Kristy.   Roads or Trails? It’s all good. I don’t really care where I’m running.  

Jonathan is all smiles after completing his first half marathon.

Hobbies beyond running? I like biking — road, gravel, touring. I also raise backyard chickens and want to own a farm one day.   

Any running superstitions or rituals? I’ve been doing races in a pair of bright pink shorts. Seems to be working for me so far!   

Favorite gear? Altras for trail, Brooks for road. I really like my Altra Lone Peaks. They’ve been through an awful lot and are probably worn out but still coming back for more. Oh! And Goodr shades. They’re the best. I wear mine everywhere. And cheap!   

Suggestion for growing our running community? Come to Christiansburg Run Club Thursdays at 6pm!!! Aside from that shameless plug, honestly: I think we have a great run community around here. We obviously have a ton of wicked fast people and most of them are also super humble and willing to slow down/mentor/teach. It’s really cool.   

Favorite pre-run fuel (snack or meal)? Coffee, water, and a banana before anything in the morning. Can’t handle anything else. 

Favorite post-run recovery/reward meal? Nothing is as good as a gas station Coke after a long run or bike ride. And then Mexican food.   

When you aren’t running you are probably …? Taking pictures. Aspire (my company) keeps me busy.

Running goals in the next few years? There’s probably a marathon in there somewhere. I’m not really saying anything is off the table at this point. I’m still young and feel like I have a lot of years to grow as a runner. I’m pretty pumped about that.

Community-wise: I’d really like to do something more concrete to help build our run club and community at-large. It’d be awesome to partner with more folks and have more recurring runs through the NRV. The community is ready for it. We just need to build.

You might also enjoy these stories:

Running fast and up front at age 57. Meet Trish Richardson

105 racers started the Looking Glass 50 miler. Just 63 finished. Emily Hutchins was 1 of them.

Former top marathoner Michelle Lowry still running strong in Blacksburg

Jordan Chang shares his passion for running and community.

A thank you to James Demarco and Runabout Sports

Lessons learned from leading a college track and cross country program at age 24 

Jenn Fleming’s comeback story continues with win at Holiday Lake 50K

Blacksburg running legend Peter Dorrell helps build community

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