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#Running Community

January 24, 2012

For the uninitiated or those who think they are too cool, the pound sign in the title is not a typo. Regardless of your reasons for abstention, Twitter is all around us and growing more pervasive each day. The “hashtag”—as that little tic-tac-toe board is known within the social networking superpower—is meant to group together terms which can then be ranked as popular and easily searched.

But what does any of that have to do with running? Anyone who has run an organized race, gone out with a running club, hashed, or just jogged with a friend, knows the brand of camaraderie that running engenders. The bond over a mutual interest which can often involve a varying degree of both pain and ecstasy is quite strong. Running is an all natural, old-school kind of social network.

Since starting this blog, I have become a more avid reader of countless running blogs. Thanks to encouragement from an infinitely cooler younger brother, my Twitter account allows me to learn about the latest articles, races, gear, and running experiences. It also affords those who participate a great deal of interaction.

Enter Doug Cassaro, a runner, running coach, and author of his own blog I run because…. Using the blog and his Twitter account, Doug decided to organize a race. The catch? Except for the running part, it would be entirely virtual. All you needed was a Twitter username and the ability to finish a 5k (3.1 miles) on Saturday, January 21, 2012. No cost. No start time. No long bathroom lines. No fancy sponsors or race prizes. With that as the backdrop, the registration opened for the inaugural #TwitterRoadRace.

I saw the posts. I saw the Tweets. I knew the day was approaching. But I hesitated to sign up since I was still trying to heal from nagging Achilles pain. Plus, after recently purchasing a pair of Brooks’ minimalist sneakers, the PureCadence, I was just trying to build up leg strength and work on improving my stride. Basically, I excused myself from this event.

As I sat at my computer Saturday morning getting ready for a quick one or two miles on the treadmill in my new sneakers, my Twitter feed filled up with people running in the #TwitterRoadRace. So I did what anyone would do, I got jealous. Could I run 3 miles right then without hurting myself? Could I run it fast? I had no idea.

As I headed into the gym, I still had no sense of what I would be able to do. Though I definitely knew what I wanted to do. A few minutes before heading out the door, I saw one last Tweet from Jeff of werrunners, who posted a super impressive 19:51 as his finishing time. Always in competition mode, my thought was to beat Jeff. Why not? He and his wife have a great blog, he seems like a super guy, and he just broke 20 minutes in a 5k. Why shouldn’t I try and best his time? Oh right- I also had not eaten breakfast that morning.

#TwitterRoadRace logo by @youngjerks

After muddling through a 7-minute first mile, I decided it was time to turn up the juice. Bring the thunder. Pump up the jam, as it were. The new Brooks shoes felt great and I pushed through the last two miles at sub-6:30 pace to finish up at 20:01. Wiping down the machine I grumbled to myself for not breaking 20 minutes. Then I smiled, congratulating Jeff in my head and thanking him for unwittingly inspiring me to run so hard. Neither of us set a personal best with our times that day, but were both equally satisfied with our accomplishments. Special congrats to Jeff too for winning his age group.

This different, very 21-st century kind of story is what makes a social media network like Twitter so interesting. Moreover, it reinforces how amazing the running community has always been. It was my first virtual race, but will definitely not be my last.

If you want to check out the full results of the #TwitterRoadRace, you can find them here. Thanks to Doug for organizing, to his cousin Dan of Young Jerks for designing a great logo, and to the other 375 finishers from 14 countries for competing in a great event.

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5 comments

  1. Wow, you had a fast pace! I finished in 31:35, and that was a good run for me! Way to go! And I hope they do another #twitterroadrace soon — that was a blast!


    • Why thank you- it felt pretty good for sure. And your time was amazing too, definitely rocked it! As far as the next one goes, count me in too. I will be “there.”


  2. How cool! – Thanks for the mention and kind words. I find “twitter runners” so motivating. Just a great community.

    Best of luck with your blog and running!

    Jeff


    • Yes, we are definitely a fun, motivating bunch. Thanks for the kind words and good luck with all your stuff too!


  3. love the blog! definitely true about that special bond between fellow runners. #runnersrule



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