The walking/running social group City Sneakers poses in front of the Macomb County Circuit Court building in Mount Clemens before the Let’s Move Festival of Races in April.

The walking/running social group City Sneakers poses in front of the Macomb County Circuit Court building in Mount Clemens before the Let’s Move Festival of Races in April.

Photo provided by Jason Davidson

Social walking/running club enthusiastically enters fourth year

By: Julie Snyder, Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published May 17, 2019


MOUNT CLEMENS/CLINTON TOWNSHIP/HARRISON TOWNSHIP — “We are a social group with a running problem.”

Those are the words of Jason Davidson, one of the organizers of the Macomb County-centric group City Sneakers — a walking/running club bred from participants’ longing to find support, motivation, encouragement, accountability and friendship in others who share the same lifestyle hobbies.

The group, which is free to all and requires no distance, pace or achievement requirements, was formed for both the die-hard enthusiasts and those who just want to enjoy some company.

Davidson, the Clintondale Community Schools Board of Education president, is one of two group members who is also a 2019 Detroit Free Press Marathon ambassador. More than 400 people applied to be ambassadors this year.

Currently, about 300 members or so participate on a regular basis throughout the year in City Sneakers. The group extends to another approximately 1,200 individuals via social media, some of whom only make it out once or twice per year. About 100 people can be seen hitting the streets on the group’s official day, Tuesday.

“Even the worst Tuesday night we had this year — and it seemed like every Tuesday with terrible weather and temperature — was 30 people,” Davidson said.

Members take the community by storm, especially throughout the summer and fall months and at locations mostly based in and near Mount Clemens. Popular meeting places for the group include Eastside Tavern, Three Blind Mice, Rec Bowl, Madison’s and Terry’s Terrace — as well as “wild card” nights where new or random meeting places are chosen.

The summer kickoff event was scheduled to take place May 21, after press time, at Orleans in Mount Clemens.

Davidson said the members convene at destinations sometime between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m., hit the pavement and then return to socialize, eat and drink with new friends. They are noticeable in their bright-colored garb.

“People span the spectrum: walkers, serious runners, all sorts of professionals, hometowns, and come together and make friendships,” he said. “The group just continues to grow. They find someone to walk with, run with and talk with. It’s a priority for many people.”

For example, Davidson said that he and 11 others rented a house in Charlevoix this June for a marathon there. “It’s amazing, just thinking, ‘How did we get here?’” he said.

Mount Clemens resident Nicole Urban has been involved in City Sneakers from the start.

The longtime runner said hitting the paths alone was becoming tedious.

“I started coming out and I found I really enjoyed the companionship during the run, and I have made many great friendships through the group,” said Urban, who is also a member of the City Sneakers Planning Committee.

Urban, 41, said her 15-year-old nephew enjoys the weekly walk/run as well.

“He’s autistic, so it’s nice to watch him connect with the others involved,” she said. “He’s comfortable with the other runners. He has just blossomed so much in the last three years.”

Last summer, the club went beyond the usual physical activity. It adopted a flower garden at the corner of Pine Street and South Gratiot Avenue. Several volunteers pulled weeds, trimmed plants and spread mulch — all with the assistance of the MSU Extension and its master gardeners.

This year, the group plans to completely overhaul the garden with 12 varieties of native plants, totaling 217 plants. The garden is a dedication to Jill Urban, the late mother of Nicole Urban.

For more information on joining, schedules and other updates, follow City Sneakers on Facebook or visit