Chris Malin

Saskatoon Running Group is all about community

In the early days of the pandemic, Chris Malin was running more than he’d ever run in his life. The high mileage was helping his mental health as the world became increasingly chaotic and unpredictable — and he knew he likely wasn’t alone.

So Malin, who admittedly isn’t much of a social media person, started the Saskatoon Running Group Facebook group.

“I was just trying to bring people together,” he recalls. “I think everybody was struggling to find something to do and I just started it so I could start talking with people that were like minded and I was searching for something to keep busy.”

Today, roughly two years after Malin founded the group, it boasts close to 700 members. People share their running goals, post running news stories, ask advice and seek out running partners. Malin is a constant presence, making sure there’s a steady stream of content.

One of the most rewarding things for Malin is hearing about people meeting up in person after connecting through the group. He also loves how much knowledge the group collectively holds; he’s learned a lot about running technology and cool running routes in the city because of posts people have made.

“It’s been so good to see all the different people at different levels of running,” he says. “It’s not just top runners. It’s regular people sharing their stories — their successes and their learning experiences.”

A younger Malin may have been surprised to hear he would one day be so passionately involved in an online running community. Growing up, his sport of choice was swimming and he only started running when he got into triathlon in university. At the time, Brad Spokes was coaching both triathlon and cross country at the University of Saskatchewan and encouraged Malin to run cross country with the Huskies.

“When I started with the Huskies it just changed my life,” Malin says. “It changed my whole outlook on life and opened up so many doors.”

Malin made lifelong friends through the cross country team and learned a lot about training and discipline. While swimming had always come easy to him, running was hard — and he loved the challenge.

“Running, as soon as I put on the shoes, I know it’s not going to be easy. And that actually works for me. I like that part of it. I know I’m going to have to work hard and stay motivated. And that’s the best thing ever.”

Malin has been swimming and running ever since and shares his love of running through coaching; he’s coached track and field and cross country for 15 years now, most recently at Holy Cross High School where he teaches.

In both his coaching and through the Saskatoon Running Group he tries to foster the same positive and supportive environment he thrived on as a young athlete.

“I can’t say enough about running and what it’s given me and that’s why I wanted to start this group,” he says. “Anybody is welcome to join the group on Facebook — even if you’re not an avid runner, just come on and I think you’ll get hooked. And that’s what I hope: That you’ll get hooked like I did.”

To join the Saskatoon Running Group — and possibly get hooked on running — find them on Facebook.