Runners for Public Lands turns 5 this week!

To celebrate this milestone birthday, we’re looking back at where we began, recognizing how far our roots have grown, and are dreaming toward a collective and shared future.

If you’re new to RPL, we started our work on Earth Day in 2019. To honor the land is to know and care for the land everyday: to recognize that we weren’t the first to use it, to put name to the names that came before ours, and to reckon with the work we need to do as the trail running community. This birthday, we’re doubling down on our commitments to represent and activate runners in protecting public lands, to establish inclusivity and environmental sustainability practices at running events and clubs, and to grow awareness of this necessary work across the United States.

This week, we’ll be sharing stories about RPL’s past, present, and future. You’ll get to hear from past and present RPL board members about our collective impact, and you’ll also get some insight into where RPL is headed these next five years (think: we’re going national).

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we’re going to go back to the beginning: RPL’s origin story, as written by one of our very own, Dr. Leigh Scarber:

Inspired by a constellation of concepts, including the Standing Rock Water Protectors and Mike Foote’s article, ‘No Free Lunch’ in Outside Magazine, our leader and founder, Vic Thasiah, gathered an enthusiastic group of runner environmentalists in his backyard in 2018. Realizing a great need for runners to have a seat at the outdoor advocacy table, we organically and collectively emerged, with a passion for environmental stewardship and inclusivity. Tethered to the earth and each other with the singular goal of protecting the people and places we love, RPL officially launched on Earth Day of 2019.


Our early events, such as the first Camp and Run held on the ancestral homelands of Chumash Tribes anchored our organization by bringing together RPL’s founding board members with diverse members of the community in an immersive weekend retreat focused on connecting runners with nature. With hearts and souls on fire, we walked away from that Camp and Run with the deep knowledge that as the largest recreational group in the country, runners could organize in favor of climate action, sustainability practices, protection of public lands, and equitable access to nature, thereby solidifying our seat at the table.

Where are we headed next? Our roots. Stay tuned for our next in this celebratory series.