Well, maybe it's not ALL about the schwag, but good race schwag does go a long way.
I don't typically sign up for a race because of the goodies the event provides. My priorities usually go as follows:
1. Race is organized by a company/race director with reputation for good events
2. Convenient date
3. Convenient location
4. My friends are running
But race registration fees are not cheap, so when events give out some cool stuff, it's a point in the event organizing category. This all occurred to me after bringing home what I consider some great race schwag recently. Travelling for the weekend, I ran the Brrr-ooklyn Hot Chocolate Half Marathon Saturday. I was hoping that heading a few miles south might yield warmer temperatures, but that was not quite the case. Yet, I had a great time at this event put on by NYCRuns.
With my $50 registration fee, I received a long sleeve technical shirt, a mug and a pretty sweet finisher's medal. In addition, since it was a chilly 21 degrees (but closer to 8 degrees with the wind), the race provided foil blankets and hot chocolate, and plenty of food at the finish. The race was also well organized with 7 water stops, great volunteers and emails with finishing times sent less than 2 hours after I finished the race.
At a time when registration fees for 5Ks are often $40-$50, I sometimes wonder where all that money goes. I have helped organize races and I understand there are costs that these fees must pay for or in some cases charities that benefit from the event. But sometimes, there are events that seem a bit expensive for what they are offering. I just think it is worth noting a race where I thought the fee was in line with the distance and I truly felt like I got my money's worth.
I don't race in NY all that often, but my family is here, so on the occasion I am back and am looking to run, I will definitely look up the event schedule for NYCRuns again after this experience. I made sure to say thank you to NYCRuns, as I have to other race directors who put on good events. I want to encourage them to keep doing so!
And even if it's not the only reason to sign up for a race, hopefully they also keep the cool schwag.
Since I began running, I have turned my dislike for the activity into a love for the sport. However, week after week, race after race, I found that it not just the sport, but in part, the running community that keeps me motivated and excited to run. I think itís so important that I blog about it.
I am typically not surprised when I hear stories of runners helping other runners, or the larger community. We are, in general, a good bunch. We may stop during a race to help another runner who tripped and fell. We use running races to fundraise for causes important to the physical, social or mental well-being of the communities we live in. We organized races, such as #onerun , to support one another and local businesses after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Yet, I am still surprised, and more importantly impressed, at the way the running community world-wide responded last week to the death of runner Meg Menzies.
Meg Menzies, a mother, wife and runner from Ashland, Virginia, was killed Monday morning, January 13, 2014 by a drunk driver on her morning run. Meg was training for the 2014 Boston Marathon and was an involved member of her local running club, the Richmond Road Runners.
Shortly after her death, Meg's friend Brooke Roney set up a Facebook page for an event called Megís Miles. I emailed Brooke today to ask how the idea started. She wrote to me,
ďI posted in a running group on Facebook called Women's Running Club about my friend's death and that it's a tragic reminder of how we should all be careful on the road. Some of the women in the group were commenting about how we should dedicate our runs to Meg on Saturday the 18th. The name Meg's Miles was suggested and I just created a Facebook Event for it. I thought if people used the hashtag #megsmiles and posted pictures, thoughts, prayers, etc it would be kinda cool to have all in one place on each social media platform.Ē
Runners near and far to Richmond, VA supported this event. Olympian Kara Goucher tweeted
Thanks to social media, the running community does not need to be defined by geography. Runners across the world posted on the Facebook page that they dedicated their miles to Meg on Saturday. Over 96,000 have joined the Facebook event. Using the map developed by organizers, over 3,900 people around the world marked their runs for #megsmiles.
It is a scenario that every runner knows is possible, but no one really believes will ever happen to them. According to local reports of the accident, Meg Menzies was running during daylight at 8:15 am and running against traffic, as runners are taught to do. The driver was intoxicated and it was reported that he ran off the road as he reached to adjust the radio.
I didnít know Meg. But as a runner, when I heard this story, a shiver ran up my spine as I thought ďThat could be any of usĒ. As a human, my heart ached for her family and friends. So on Saturday, my Boston Marathon training group, the Run to End Alzheimerís Team, and our partner training team, Team Brookline dedicated our miles to Meg.
The support and condolences communicated over the course of the last week acknowledges the power of social media, but is also a tribute to just how strong the sense of community is among runners.
I asked Brooke her reaction to the response that #megsmiles has received. She told me,
ďI was expecting a couple hundred people MAYBE to respond to the event. So the fact we had 96,000 people all over the world running for Meg was simply phenomenal. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I didn't do anything. It's everyone else who shared the event and kept gathering support for Meg that did it all. Very proud to be a part of the movement.Ē
It does not mend the pain and suffering that I am sure her loved ones feel right now, but perhaps they can feel a bit of comfort in the international outpouring of remembrance to honor their daughter, mother, wife and friend. The Facebook page acknowledges that not coincidentally, #megsmiles can be read as Megís Miles or Meg Smiles, which is a wonderful way for her family and friends to remember her.
For more information about events and fundraisers, a website, www.megsmiles.com is being developed. Her friends hope to use this tragic loss as a way to raise awareness about drunk and distracted driving and runner safety.
The running world was buzzing this week about...fashion?
Adidas released its 2014 Boston Marathon apparel and runners let their opinions loose on social media. Most notable was the feedback on the 2014 Boston Marathon jacket, perhaps the most distinguishable piece of gear to identify marathoners. Each year, many runners look forward to seeing the new colors and design of the official race apparel in the months before the race. After the 2013 marathon jackets became somewhat of a collector's item, perhaps they were a little more likely to fall into the spotlight.
And speaking of bright lights?
This year's jacket comes in "solar zest", a very bright orange. I don't have strong feelings for or against the colors, but I did smile when I read one comment that referred to the color as "Cheetos' dust." Based on how it appears on my computer screen, it is better than the rest of the women's gear in "orange glow," or what to me looks like the inside of a cantaloupe. (It's a pet peeve when athletic companies try to girlify their women's apparel. Just because I am female, doesn't mean I want to wear pastel colored gear.)
Opinions varied from the pleased and excited to disappointed and disgusted. Boston Magazine initiated an online survey to capture people's reactions. Some of the comments from their Facebook wall include:
I'm running the marathon this year for my Dad who has kidney cancer. The ribbon for kidney cancer is orange, so for me it is a match made in heaven.
I'm so glad it's different. I ran 2013 and every time I see that blue jacket it knocks the wind out of me. Happy to have another chance to cross the finish line and happy to move on with some new colors.
I love it. All runners need a safe color to run on the road
I like it but it brings memories of HoJos to mind.
of course I'll buy it, but I am really disappointed and will most likely continue to proudly wear my 2013 jacket ... it didn't need to be the baa blue & yellow or red/white & blue, but orange? really?
It's the biggest trophy to a runner to have that blue and yellow jacket - I've earned it twice but still don't have it. I'm proud, and love Boston, but I am disappointed.
this would make a nice Easter jacket.
I think they really dropped the ball.. No embroidery at all just iron on stuff.. $110, which is more than last year and the jacket is not great quality at all.. Poor marketing.. However they know we will all buy it.
I don't love or hate the jacket. Or orange. The jackets were orange and black in 2012, and black and orange in 2007. To be honest, I've never been really excited by the colors or design. I buy the jackets, or some other apparel, to have a memento from each marathon I run. I think it's important way to recognize the time and effort that went into the race. Even now, as I celebrate the 10th anniversary of my first Boston Marathon, I still wear my 2004 jacket.
After the bombing at last year's race and the emotions, good and bad, that followed, I guess I envisioned the style would be something more classic, commemorative or patriotic. The words that come to mind when I see this jacket are trendy, fresh and Miami.
It's fine. I might still buy one. And I'm sure, even at $110 a pop, many others will too.
Orange may not be the new black, but come April, the streets of Boston may be seeing a lot more of it.
Race directors from the well known New England relay race Reach the Beach announced on Wednesday that they will be merging with the Ragnar Relay Series. Entering their 16th year, Mike Dionne and Rich Mazzola are best known for their original race in New Hampshire, a 200 mile team relay starting at Canon Mountain and ending at Hampton Beach. The pair later started a Massachusetts relay in 2010 and one time New Jersey relay in 2012.
As part of the partnership, Reach the Beach Massachusetts will fold into Ragnar Cape Cod, which has occurred around the same weekend in May since 2012. Reach the Beach New Hampshire will remain, with New Balance still the primary sponsor, but will have the additional support and resources of Ragnar.
I have run RTB NH 5 times, volunteered at RTB MA twice and ran Ragnar Del Sol in AZ back in 2011. So I have some experience with each race.
I had a good experience running Ragnar del Sol, partly due to my awesome van mates (5 guys and a lot of fart jokes) and partly because I was running in Arizona in February. But beyond that, I thought it was well organized and had enough volunteer and safety support. (Ragnar also requires each team to provide 3 volunteers for the race.)
But it was not Reach the Beach. Maybe it's a New England vs. AZ thing, but while Ragnar Del Sol was well organized and my team was fun, the race just had a different feel.
Reach the Beach New Hampshire was started by 2 guys and a lot of the original volunteers were their family members. Having participated in the race 5 times in the last 7 years, to me, the race still has some of that homegrown feel. Two guys also started Ragnar in 2004, but in Utah. Iím not sure how this national company can bring that to the Cape Cod and New Hampshire races, or if they want to.
This happens all the time, right? A small venture grows to a point it needs the support of a larger business. As the race has grown, support through sponsorship and other resources I'm sure are necessary to sustain the traditions started and accommodate more runners, and so I assume partnering with Ragnar is the next step along these lines.
I want to be excited for Reach the Beach to succeed as a result of this partnership, but change can make me nervous. Iím a little worried that the race that has become a traditional request for a vacation day for me each September will lose itís feel and become just a business.
And on a personal level, Iím also concerned about their charity partnerships. The Alzheimerís Association has been an official charity partner of both the New Hampshire and Massachusetts relays for the last several years and the race raises a good chunk of change for the organization each year. Nothing was mentioned in the announcements about any of the race charities.
While it seems ridiculous to think I would not want to run 17 miles with no sleep, eat mostly peanut butter and jelly and live in a van that smells like old running shoes for 30 hours, I reserve the right to be choosy and will make the decision to run this race year by year, as the race partnership develops.
Afterall, there are much simpler ways to reach the beach.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this afternoon while waiting in very long line when I read this Tweet from @mreils
I googled Team MR8 and read a few articles. I felt goosebumps as I read that the Richard family has established the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation to invest in education, athletics and community to support his now famous message ďNo more hurting people Ė Peace.Ē
The first initiative of the foundation will be to recruit a team to run the Boston Marathon, Team MR8, named for Martinís initials and his favorite number and age. Applications are being accepted until January 17th. Runners will be notified by January 27th is they are selected for the team.
The Martin family announced the launch of the foundation and marathon team in a blog post Monday.
The foundation is asking applicants to commit to raise $7500 for the organization. While this is much steeper than the BAA requirement of $4000, I actually do not think that they will have any trouble finding interested runners. If my experience with the Run to End Alzheimerís is any indication, there are many runners who are capable of raising $7500 and definitely interested in running the marathon. The Alzheimerís Association turned down many quality applicants, simply because there were so many of them and limited numbers to give out. Neither the website or application for Team MR8 specifies how many numbers they will be giving out.
Last week, the Boston Athletic Association also announced they made 50 marathon numbers available to the One Fund Boston. Applications for this team are due Tuesday January 7th at 5pm. The fundraising commitment is $8000 and the team will be supported by local running store, Marathon Sports.
The Boston Marathon has long been known for its qualifying times and competitive runners. This year, it seems the charity runners will be getting quite a bit (of well earned) attention. In case there was any doubt, the Boston Marathon will be a different race this year.
Welcome! Iím excited to meet you! Your predecessor 2013 was a quite handful and while she had some wonderful moments, Iím so glad you are here.
Iím sure you have heard about last yearís Boston Marathon. Obviously, it was an ending to the race that no one could have predicted. It certainly was not something I ever expected to be a part of first hand. Nor did I expect prior to that day that my marathon recovery, more emotional than physical this time around, would take way longer than previous years.
But 2013 did bring together the running community like I have never seen before. Whether it was the moment of silence at the London Marathon or the tributes at many other races thereafter, or the runs organized along the marathon route to offer support and healing to the running community and raise funds for those most seriously affected by the bombings. While I think you have a head start, 2014, I think the spirit around running in Boston throughout the year will be phenomenal, especially for the marathon on April 21st.
Just like last year, I am again training for the Boston Marathon with the Run to End Alzheimerís team. You have brought back many of last yearís teammates and a bunch of wonderful new folks to the team, so we are already off to a good start with our largest team ever! 2013 helped me fundraise just under $9000 for the Alzheimerís Association. It would be pretty great if 2014 will be the year I hit my new fundraising PR. (Help me exceed my goal by making a donation here.)
And while youíre not off to the best start, do you think you could improve upon the winter training weather 2013 gave us?
Only 2 days in, and Iíve already had my first treadmill run of the year. Letís not make this a regular occurrence, ok?
Iím pretty sure the 2014 Boston Marathon will be an incredibly memorable event for the entire running world. I hope you are also filled with some personally memorable moments, like maybe that marathon PR that has been eluding me. I promise 2014 will be my favorite year if that happens! Iíd also like to run some new races, and maybe travel to some new cities to do so. I swear I will stick to my strength training program if it means staying injury-free through 2014 to accomplish all this.
Several friends (and Iím sure many others) ran their firsts 5Ks, 5 milers, half marathons and marathons in 2013. I hope you continue to keep these new running friends inspired and recruit a few more to join the club.
2013 also brought the running community a new marathon record in Berlin. Maybe in 2014, itís the ladiesí turn to break some world records?
Color runs, electric runs, mud runs and zombie runs all seemed to explode in 2013. While I canít say Iím signing up for these races yet, Iím all for getting folks off the couch. And maybe 2014 will also be the year we change the direction of the obesity trend in adults (18 states, including Massachusetts have already showed some slight decreases in obesity rates among children).
2014, I have to say I hardly know you, but I like the possibility of what you might bring. Looking forward to a memorable year!