Koreatown Run Club with Duy Nguyen
The Los Angeles run community is one of the largest, diverse run communities on the globe. If you noticed the past few issues we’ve spent a good amount of time in the LA area as we’ve spotlighted The Big A88 Jogger run club, Keep It Run Hundred, Movement Runners and Compton Run Club. It’s only right that we keep it on the left coast, staying in LA as we chat with Duy Nguyen, one of the founders of Koreatown Run Club as we chat about diversity, inclusion, creating change and most importantly running.
MSM: Welcome to Mid Strike Magazine. One of the themes of this publication is that we go a little bit more in depth when it comes to the diverse running community. One of the main issues in the run community is seeing runners that look like us. Koreatown Run Club was founded by you and Michael Pak but the question we like to focus on is the why, which we will get to. For our readers give us some insight into yourself. What was life like prior to running?
Duy: I had a lot more free time that’s for sure. I’m not really sure what I did all day and night looking back at it. I come from a creative background and moved out to LA from Virginia in 2012. Tying to find my way around LA, I was just having fun doing not too much of anything in a new city. I got big into playing pickup soccer with this group of friends in the local, creative and scene. I threw a house party once and that’s where I first met Mike. He was growing his @koreatown Instagram account at the time which was really cool to see. I’d try to help with it here and there. I told him I wanted to do something soccer-related for the neighborhood and eventually that led to Koreatown Run Club.
MSM: As you started your run journeys what were some of the feelings and challenges you felt early on. As you met with other clubs did you ever feel there were instances where you couldn’t relate?
Duy: For the first few months I didn’t know other run crews existed. Our runners were mostly our friends who also didn’t necessarily like running either. We kind of just kept our head down and ran things the way we thought best. I remember when other run crews from around the world started following up and thinking, “Wow, these guys are dope and they’re doing the same thing we are.” We started getting some attention from Nike and I think a few outside people felt a certain way like we didn’t pay our dues or something. People called us fake runners, this and that. I understood it to an extent. We kind of popped up out of nowhere and popped off claiming we didn’t like running meanwhile getting some shine. I think once people realized it wasn’t some fad and we were true, they finally understood what were were trying to do.
MSM: Before writing this based on what I’ve noticed the both of you feel like opposites, a yin/yang, a counter-balance which at times has a tendency to work out well. Usually leads to the best types of relationships. I’m curious as to the dynamics of your relationship both running and non running. Take us through some of the dynamics of the both of you.
Duy: I think deep down Mike and I are pretty similar. We care greatly about community and our family, friends and relationships. It’s not black and white but yes we can be pretty different on all fronts haha. Mike drinks, I don’t. I can be loud, Mike can be louder. I’ll plan my races, Mike will sign up for five in a year with no second thought.
MSM: KRC seems like it’s a run crew based on community and inclusion. There’s a sense of a caring camaraderie to everyone that comes into the club. A sense of family, essentially this leads to runners coming together, coming back and being consistent. As founders how were these bonds formed? I’m sure this is an extension of the both of you.
Duy: When you’re a running group that isn’t frontally performance focused, all we have is community and inclusion. It can be as casual or serious as you want it to be and we have people to help and run with you along the way. But other than that, it’s pretty simple. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I think people see that and naturally take that in with how they treat new runners that show up. Our attitude seems to filter out any overt negativity.
MSM: Now here’s what i’ve noticed and correct me if i’m wrong running is a big part of forming bonds as you can essentially get to know a person while running a few miles, BUT there’s also another way to essentially get to know a person and that’s over a damn good meal. KRC looks like it lays its foundation and bonds not only through running but a good time around food as well.
Duy: Definitely. We have to stay true to ourselves and what we know. If it ain’t running then it’s having a good time. These bonds are formed over miles and food and love and loss. We’ve been through it all.
MSM: I’m all for a damn good post run meal. What are some of KRC favorite spots to frequent after finishing a run?
Duy: If we’re in Koreatown we’ll hit up Dan Sung Sa, Biergarten, BCD Tofu House and of course (shameless plug) everybody’s favorite run club owned burger shop, Love Hour.
When you’re a running group that isn’t frontally performance focused, all we have is community and inclusion. It can be as casual or serious as you want it to be and we have people to help and run with you along the way. But other than that, it’s pretty simple. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I think people see that and naturally take that in with how they treat new runners that show up. Our attitude seems to filter out any overt negativity.
MSM: Take our readers through the anatomy of your group runs. What are the meetups like and how are the routes planned in the LA area. What can runners expect to experience running with KRC?
Duy: Pre-covid we met up five times a week. Monday nights have mile runs meeting at a corner in Koreatown. Wednesday nights we’ll meet at the LACC Track. Thursday nights meet at Love Hour in Koreatown with drinks after. Saturday mornings have a 3 miler from the Line Hotel in Koreatown or long runs that change every week meeting all over LA. Runners can expect support and camaraderie from never running alone. We have sub 3:30 marathoners to 8 hour marathoners.
MSM: Going back a bit to running, take our readers through some of your run experiences and where it has taken the both of you.
Duy: Running has taken us all over the world. Traveling and meeting up with friends and folks from random run crews to pass out on their floor and run a race the next day. It’s allowed us to work and partner with some of our favorite brands. It’s opened us up to learn about ourselves and help others in need.
MSM: World marathon major completions for the both of you?
Duy: We both have Chicago down. I sign up for the lottery any chance I get. I have Berlin and Tokyo this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in the country.
MSM: Diversity, inclusion and proper representation is something that is a must in our run community. What are some of the things that the both of you continue to focus on with changing the narrative on what a “runner” should look like vs what the everyday runner actually is?
Duy: We change the narrative just by running by getting the team out there and running. The world is a diverse place. If we can get the average ‘you’ out there and running, we’re doing our job. KRC does not look like the typical runner and yet at the same time we do.
MSM: Covid life has made it pretty tough this past year. Put an asterisk next to 2020, a year that we can just throw away. How has run life been this past year for KRC, how have you kept in touch with your fellow runners. I’m sure frequenting your favorite spots has been very difficult for those post run gatherings. Are you excited that we are essentially moving into post covid life?
Duy: COVID was rough. The team early on was running solo or in small groups. I took it as a personal sabbatical for managing the team. We slowly came back and actually had our first open run this past Monday (May 10). We used to meet at one spot but are now meeting up in three groups at the corner of different blocks. Still it was nice glimpse of what we used to have. Marathon training will pick back up soon and it’s nice to get ready to go back to it.
MSM: Duy loves running and Mike hates it? As a runner I feel like we have to get Mike to change those thoughts (lol). How can we work on that?
Duy: We both dislike running and you can’t do anything to change that haha.
MSM: With all these spotlights we’re doing for the magazine we definitely need to take a trip to LA in the near future. Make sure to save us a spot? What does the future hold for KRC?
Duy: Please we would love to have you. – We have some fun things in the works. Everyone’s been asking for the pool parties to return. I think we will see some by the end of the year.
MSM: Any final words you’d like to share with our readers?
Duy: Don’t run with us. See you soon!
MSM: How can we keep up with KRC?
Duy: You can follow us on Instagram at @koreatownrunclub
MSM: From all of us here at Mid Strike Magazine we salute the both of you and wish you nothing but positive progression in the future.
Duy: Thank you guys and appreciate what you’re doing!