Over 100 organized runs.
Nearly 20K runners
I never thought it would turn into this. Isn’t that what they always say?
Funny how it can be true. April 17th, the Wednesday after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I wrote a post that I was going to organize a run one week after the 117th Boston Marathon. It was a single idea published in a post on a runner’s blog.
I feel like I need to do something. Something more than a donation. Something more than a blog post or a photo or a graphic. I’m inspired by the community and how we have come together and shown our support, shed our tears and expressed our fears. With a simple look at your Facebook page, a refresh of your twitter feed or scroll through Instagram and you can SEE the love.
But I want to FEEL it. I want us to embrace the community in a REAL and HUMAN way. I want us to do what we do best.
I want us to run…
How it played out
I laid out some other details in how I was going to organize a run in San Francisco and encouraged other runners to help organize a run in their city. When I wrote the post, I imagined maybe 10 cities would join in and groups of runners would come together and run for Boston. A few paragraphs later in that same post, I wrote “This may be idealistic or a reach in the dark, but it’s a reach I’m willing to make.” and that was the truth. I didn’t imagine it would become as big as it did.
Within a couple days there were 21 cities on board… two days later it would be over 90. By the end of it, there would be over 100 cities across 8 countries and an estimated 20,000+ runners participating in #BostonStrong<city> organized runs (see the list of cities here).
The runs started receiving local attention from newspapers and television. Then it started receiving national attention including ABC, CNN and USA Today. Originally, I was creating custom graphics for each city to promote their city. After making almost 50 graphics with individual cities, start times and locations and operating on a few hours of sleep each night, I was continuously amazed at how many cities were popping up. I know that the running community is extremely supportive, but I was absolutely amazed at the outpouring that was happening, all powered by social media.
Featured in Runner’s World
Leading up to the run, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by local news stations and I’m happy to say that my parents and daughter saw me on live TV. If that wasn’t reason enough to put a smile on my face, then THIS was:
I kept this pretty much to myself as it was happening, as I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. Monday morning, the day the runs were set to happen, I received an email from an editor at Runner’s World wanting to speak to me about “the movement you started.” I can’t explain what that moment feels like, but your stomach just kind of drops. It was a whirl-wind ride after that: several back and forth conversations over the phone and email, followed by them sending a photographer on the day I was set to fly to run the Toronto Marathon.
When the Boston issue was published by Runner’s World and I received the first couple messages from friends on social media that they had spotted me, it didn’t seem real. It actually didn’t really hit me until I was holding an issue myself and reading it. To be featured in a Runner’s World article is something I never thought would happen. To be a part of this issue, what may be (in my mind) the single most significant issue to the running community is an honor.
I say “thank you” to everyone that sends me a message or wishes me congrats. When I do, not only am I thanking you for the well wishes, but I’m thanking YOU for making this happen. Absolutely none of this is possible without YOU reading what I write or tweet or snap a photo of and share. These runs happened by runners organizing their own cities and by all of us spreading the word. As a community, WE all came together and shared a moment to run united. This issue and article is a testament to the strength of runners and our community. This issue is about us.
WE = Change
This cannot be understated. We did something… together. Not only did we all show a sign of strength and resilience, but we did something on a global scale that had an impact. Many runners have expressed how much this meant to them. I’ve spoken with other organizers and we all received “thanks” from runners for helping to set this up for various reasons. People coming up to us and saying “thank you” for doing this. I could only respond with “thank you for being a part of this.” Speaking with runners from the 2013 Boston race, it was heart warming to hear them express their appreciation and share their stories. We ran FOR them. We ran WITH them. I’m never going to be able to put into words how I feel, I’m just not that good of a writer, but I am honored to be a part of this and glad that I was able to share it with all of you.
[Personal change] I’m a different person because of this. When the run in San Francisco was happening, I stopped about half way through at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, our turn-around point and told my friend Chris that I was going to take some photos and talk to some of the runners. On the way back in, I took the opportunity to be in the moment. I high-fived some runners, chatted with many more and just realized what we had all accomplished and why we were running. Earlier in the week, there was this weird feeling that running had become different. I can’t explain it, maybe you felt it, but running alone a few days after Boston just didn’t feel right. On that Monday, a week later being surrounded by runners, it felt like we were being reminded of the love the running community can share. It was a sign that, in time, we were going to be ok. We were going to continue to run strong.
It also made me realize that THIS is what I want to do. I want to do something in the running and fitness field. I want to do something I love and am passionate about full time. I’m fortunate enough to love graphic design and have job doing that. But for a couple weeks, I got to experience what it would be like to be a part of something larger. I also received similar messages from other organizers of runs… that they felt inspired and “changed” after organizing their runs. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know it is going to start with creating for myself.
I’ve toyed with the idea of creating my very own digital magazine. It has been floating around my head for half a year and I’m finally going to do it. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but it’s a step in the right direction of creating something (other than this blog) that combines two things that I’m passionate about: running and design. The very first issue due in early July will be a photo collection of the #BostonStrong<city> runs. Simply put, it will be a collection of photos from around the world taken by runners. Again, something that YOU have helped me create. Future issues will be exclusive content that will not be featured on this blog. It will be articles, interviews, photographs, tips, anything and everything related to running and fitness… but mostly running, because that’s what I do. The magazine will be called “Mush” and I’ll explain why in the very first issue.
If you would like to receive “Mush” clicking on the link below. I’ve had many requests to have a way to subscribe to the blog, so this seemed like the perfect chance. I won’t send out email notifications for every post, maybe one every couple weeks that includes URL links to some recent exciting posts and any announcements of future ones to come. It will also be how you will receive each issue of the magazine. Right now, I see it coming out 4x a year, but that may change. It will be FREE and will just come through as a PDF for you to read on your computer, mobile device or tablet. Pretty simple, right?
Update: Unfortunately, MUSH was great idea, but a second issue was never created. Maybe it was for the better. I may bring it back around again, I loved making it. But I wonder if any future issue will ever be as “special” as the first one was.
Thank you to everyone that was a part of the Boston Strong runs. Whether it was organizing, running, volunteering, sharing information or celebrating. It’s a celebration and sign of strength for the running community. We are all a part of this issue.