Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

RAWDAWG run club inspires young people to find community in active way

Kennedy Weatherby
The 8 minute mile pace group for the RAWDAWG Run Club runs up a hill at the end of the 2.5 mile loop during the run on Saturday. Hundreds of people meet up every Saturday morning in Austin, Texas to run with the club.

Instead of looking for a lifelong soulmate in a bar at 2 a.m., young people should try running two miles at 8 a.m. to find their match — or so the viral RAWDAWG Run Club believes.

Four fitness fanatics and friends Tin Nguyen, Ian Fonz, Noah Rolette and Darren Belasa founded the RAWDAWG Run Club in February of this year. The run club went viral on Instagram several months ago due to comedic videos promoting the club as an alternative to online dating. The account now boasts over 50,000 followers on Instagram. Runners meet weekly at Sammataro on Saturday morning. Since its first meeting that kick-started the RAWDAWG’s weekly Saturday runs, the club’s membership has grown from 30 to over 700 people.

“Every week, it would just grow and grow and grow,” Nguyen said. “We’d post on (the founding members’) Instagrams and on (the RAWDAWG account). Next thing you know, it just kind of unfolded in front of our eyes.”

Nguyen said the run club started as a fun activity between friends before the group decided to take it public. As for the seemingly suggestive choice of name, Nguyen said “raw-dawg” represents a way of thinking.

“We all just kind of resonated with ‘raw-dogging’ life,” Nguyen said. “It’s a lifestyle — not always … (getting so) caught up in preparing that you don’t execute.”

However, despite the unanimous admiration for the name, the founders said they considered changing it to seem more professional and market the club to a more diverse demographic.

“We tried to come up with other names, but they weren’t hitting (and) didn’t feel genuine,” Nguyen said. “We realized ‘rawdawg’ is vulgar, but it’s gonna be our job to change that (stigma).”

Despite the initial branding as a method to find a romantic partner, Nguyen said the founders meant for the club to feel less like speed-dating and more of a way to combat toxic gym culture.

“Running is blowing up so much because it’s a social activity; it makes you feel happy after and you get to meet new people,” Nguyen said. “All you need is … a pair of shoes.”

Chemical engineering senior Adiya Brakefield said running with the club motivated her to push herself to run further due to the lively and supportive atmosphere — plus, being surrounded by so many good-looking people did not hurt.

“Personally, I didn’t feel like I was gonna date anyone there,” Brakefield said. “But they were all really attractive. So I thought, ‘If someone did come up to me, boom chakalaka.’”

UT alumnus Kenneth Fernandes said before trying the club out, he felt skeptical about the authenticity of the run club due to its large social media presence.

“I realized that it’s more about the vibes and the social aspect than actually running, which is not a bad thing,” Fernandes said. “It’s great to have a (run club) and to foster health and wellness in the community.”

As the club continues to grow, the founders said they hope to continue to provide a fun and free environment to run around “sexy faces” at sexy paces.

“We want it to be more than a run club,” Nguyen said. “It’s a movement.”

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