Who We're Running With: Wissahickon Wanderers

Running in the Philadelphia area continues to grow and grow. From the races to beautiful trails and places to run to great groups, we consider ourselves very luck to be surrounded by such a wonderful running community. Here's who we're running with this week! 


By Sean Reisman

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How did the Wissahickon Wanderers, a trail-specific Philly running club, get their start? The answer to that question can be summed up in just one unlikely word: insurance. That's right, insurance. In 2002, our club's founder, Dan Gordon, needed insurance to host a race, so he turned to the Road Runners of America, but there was a catch: he had to register a running club. And on that fateful day, the Wanderers were born. What a romantic story.

But other than our exotic origin, what separates the Wanderers from other Philly running clubs? Again, that question can be summed up in just one word: hills. And I'm not talking about the Ben Franklin Bridge or the Art Museum steps; I'm talking about Pain Hill, Buck Hill, Razor Ridge, and countless other gnarly climbs within the Wissahickon, the 1,800-acre valley that our club calls home. And perhaps it's our appetite for hills that has garnered our club's "hardcore" and "intense" reputation, but we consider those adjectives to be hyperbole. Simply put, we run hills because we want to be faster and stronger. What runner wouldn't want that? 

Photo: Carlos Cabalu 

Photo: Carlos Cabalu 

What also distinguishes the Wanderers from other Philly running clubs is that we host free races. Yes, you read that correctly; every year, we host nine, 100% free trail races that are open to runners of all ability levels: the Spring Trail Series(each Thursday evening in May), the Fall Trail Series (each Thursday evening in September), and the Winter Solstice Trail 10K (typically the 3rd Sunday in December). Speaking of races, we also co-host one of Philly's premiere races, the Wissahickon Trail Classic 10K (not free, but worth every penny), which traverses some of the Wissahickon's most scenic trails.

Photo: Jan Deruiter

Photo: Jan Deruiter

So, if fresh air, trees, creek crossings, chipmunks, not getting hit my cars or breathing in exhaust, and insurance are your things, consider joining us for a group run: Thursdays at 6:30pm and Saturdays at 8am, year-round, at the Valley Green Inn (Valley Green Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19128). Also, find us on Facebook and Strava. Happy trails.