30 running events in 30 days
my journey connecting with the Philadelphia running community through 30 runs in 30 days was a unique and rewarding experience.
my journey connecting with the Philadelphia running community through 30 runs in 30 days was a unique and rewarding experience.
Beginning on Global Running Day, I joined Bennett and a welcoming Fairmount group of twenty on a run up Kelly Drive and back to Lloyd Hall. The crew kept a good pace, about eight minutes per mile, and friendly banter flowed throughout. I made the mistake of showing up with my backpack, so I was fortunate when a kind runner who lived nearby offered to keep it in his house. Lesson learned!
A rainy run through Rittenhouse Square, up the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) and east on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway left me as wet as a swimming pool, even before we dunked ourselves under Love Park’s fountain! Once I embraced the rain, I began to not care about the puddles, running right through them as my inner child emerged. Cookies greeted our group of twelve back at the store following the run.
An early morning workout led by Anh and CeCe of Lez Run included running by the Liberty Bell with colorful flags demonstrating pride for and allyship with the LGBTQ community. It concluded with a duck walk, which I must admit, was impossible for me to do!
A lively crew showed up to run, dance and raise money for the GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s work to #EndPeriodPoverty. I was a bit embarrassed by my lack of dance moves at the lively award ceremony, which had a dj and was dominated by the Drexel club track team.
A workout with Sydni, a master instructor at Barry’s, was followed by a delicious oat milk, banana spinach smoothie from Double Wood Supplements and conversations with a handful of local health, fitness and wellness providers including Orange Theory, TB12, BCA Therapy and 124 wellness studio. Amanda gave a great talk about self-care and burnout. Shoutout to Danielle, Lauren and the Philly Magazine team for putting on an awesome event!
A fun and lively event hosted by Ross, Liz and the Philadelphia Runner team included 5k, 10k and 15k races. I ran the 5k. There were beats played by Sir Charles, race timing by Run The Day and a recovery zone by Owen, Beth and the Restore Hyper Wellness team. Keith and Yards had beers flowing early on a Sunday morning! My only run of the 30 that was timed, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I finished the 5k in 19:54, which was good enough for 1st in my division and 8t overall.
Despite not being a huge beer guy, I was inspired by Yards serving beers early on a Sunday. I also heard an announcement from one of the Manayunk Beer Runner leaders, Noah, at Run Fest so decided to join the Manayunk Beer Runners crew on a casual Monday evening run through Manayunk. The run finished up a giant hill to Twisted Gingers Brewing Co where the group of more than twenty chatted, took down beer and pizza and toasted to the professor!
A fun out and back run started at the Passyunk fountain, turned around with a slap of the FDR Park sign and ended with outside drinks at The Bottle Shop. I loved that a fellow runner had a dog along for the run and seeing the Philadelphia sports arenas as scenery was fantastic. The group kept a variety of paces and was super friendly!
A quintessential November Project workout, which included lunges, burpees and other calisthenics. The leaders Vinny, Vinnie and Katie provided good energy from start to finish, kicking it off with the NP bounce that included motivating f bombs and ending the workout with an all-out sprint to the Art Museum doors!
The morning after watching Coldplay at the Linc, I joined John and the South Philly Striders crew for a 5-mile run along the Delaware River. The crew kept a good pace, less than 8 minutes per mile, helping me to sweat out the seltzers I sucked down the night before at Lincoln Financial Field! On the way home, we jogged past the scene of the shooting on South St., which occurred earlier in the week. My thoughts swirled around about life’s fragility, the way too much gun violence that exists today and the ability for running and sports communities to make a difference. Shoutout to Black Men Run and Swagga House Run Club, who are leading a hood 2 hood run series to stop gun violence.
Starting at City Hall, a group of ten of us ran west to 30t Street station. Caught between traffic lights, the group of ten quickly became a group of two. Neither my companion nor I was sure of the official route, so we zig zagged our way through the city to Libertee Ground, where there was a welcoming and energetic group of 70, who were all drinking beers and hanging out. The Fishtown Beer Runners (FBR) group starts at three separate locations across Philadelphia and meets at a different bar each week. It is led by the passionate David April, who toasts to the professor, a Spanish legend who has conducted research on the hydration properties of beer after a run!
Kicked off with an early morning drag show, the event hosted by Lez Run included a 5k and Fun Run. 10 days into the 30 in 30 challenge, my body begged me for the Fun Run option. I obliged. After jogging a mile, I cheered on hundreds of runners, who were dressed colorfully, through the 5k Fairmount Park course and congratulated many as they crossed the finish line. I ran into a buddy from high school, who had heard about the run on the Rights to Ricky Sanchez Podcast and was fortunate to meet Christina, who was offering demos of HOKA shoes at the event. As I was speaking with her, someone who noticed the eseo logo on my shirt came up and let me know that they loved the eseo instagram. I thanked them, let them know that it was others on the eseo team who deserved the credit then offered up a high five!
The Loop the Coop event organized by Swagga House Run Club was rained out due to heavy lightning. Bummed to see the cancellation on Swagga House Run Club’s Instagram story, part of me was relieved this meant that I could return to bed and take a recovery day. Swagga House has a fun and welcoming group with a powerful founding story, Joshua and Ron founded the club in 2020 to honor a close friend who died by suicide. Josh was everywhere there was something running related during June and brings a mixture of passion, kindness and energy that adds hype to any event!
An out and back run on the MLK side of the Schuylkill included many different paces with runners turning around at the fifteen-minute mark. Being on the MLK Drive side of the Schuylkill River was a nice change of pace from the Kelly Drive side and afterwards we went to Manayunk Brewery, where I opted for a refreshing Kombucha!
The monthly fun run, takes place the second Tuesday of warm weather months and includes an out and back trip over the Ben Franklin Bridge. Following the run is a raffle that benefits Students Run Philly, an organization focused on transforming students’ lives through running and mentorship by pairing volunteer running leaders with teams of students. I won a rainbow Philadelphia Runner tank top! Thanks Philadelphia Runner!
Lindsey, Paul, and Grant conducted a Zumba style dance workout to Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and other pop songs. Of all the events, I must say, this pushed me farthest from my comfort zone. Fortunately, I had a fellow dancer next to me who brought the hype! He was super enthusiastic and supportive and freely gave me high fives throughout!
A welcoming group led by Lawrence and George took me through the toilet bowl route, which kicked off and finished at Lloyd Hall. The toilet bowl included the SRT, Love Park, Ben Franklin Parkway and Art Museum. I saw the smoothest stride I would see throughout the 30 runs, appreciated the group’s motto of leave nobody behind and loved their mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle among African American males through participation in recreational running activities.
It’s tough to spend much time in Philadelphia’s running community without hearing certain names. One of those names is Brodie. Brodie kicked off a 5k run (there was also a 7:45am 10k option, but I opted for the shorter distance and extra sleep) from the Art Museum that went up and back MLK Drive. A super nice fellow runner was from Ukraine, which made me extra appreciative of the peaceful morning jog in Philadelphia, despite the city’s current challenges and imperfections.
The third straight weekend I traveled to Fairmount Park for a run, each week’s experience was unique. I must have drank too much coffee on the walk over, so I needed to jump into the woods a few minutes into the run to relieve myself before catching up to the group as we traded the fairmount park nature for Philadelphia’s city streets. The Juneteenth Freedom Run didn’t have formal registration or timing, but to say the passion and excitement was palpable would be an understatement. The run went around Philadelphia, stopping at different sites, including murals of great black people (Martin Luther King, Ella Baker and more) and John Coltrane’s old residence. In addition to being an ally for the black community on this powerful date and seeing leaders in Philly’s running community from groups like Swagga House Run Club, November Project and Run 856, I met New York Times best-selling author Chris McDougall, who is moving to Hawaii and running a bunch ahead of the release of Born to Run 2 later this year.
A scenic run beginning from City Hall went east on market, passing the site of the future Sixers arena, going through the historical district then over and back the Benjamin Franklin Bridge before returning to City Hall. We played “guess the year” for the playlist Adam had bumping, stopped on the return trip for a couple of group photos (one serious, one fun camp style) and, as a newb, was pleasantly surprised to be given the honor of calling out “one two three” and hearing everyone shout “four” in unison at the concluding huddle. What a great start to the week!
Inspired by the thought of being 2/3 of the way through the challenge and excited to join a group run led by someone who describes himself as “the kind of fella who creates his own party”, I grabbed a buddy and joined Issa Run Crew’s Monday Night Therapy. Starting and ending at Whole Foods, the group went on a casual run down the SRT then back to Whole Foods with a brief halftime in the shade along the SRT where people chatted about.
Jackie led the group, which divided up by paces for a run along MLK drive. I chose the 8-minute pace and enjoyed a nice jog up and back before chatting for several minutes with others in the group next to the Art Museum. Many others went to dinner following the run. I took a rain check to instead briefly go to relax and recover before returning to the Art Museum a few hours later for run #22.
After a quick dinner and recovery, I returned to the Art Museum where I joined the ultrarunner, Gagz, on a 5-mile run around Philadelphia. Gagz took us to several iconic Philly sports locations, including Franklin Field and the Palestra, and spewed interesting sports facts throughout. As someone who learned to read by digesting the Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports section, I was pleasantly surprised and a bit giddy by the amount of new information I learned, including that Vince Lombardi’s sole playoff loss came at Franklin Field when the Eagles won the 1960 NFL Championship. On the run I met Cain, founder of Queer Run, which meets Monday’s at 8:00 pm in Rittenhouse Square. Cain recently completed a 361-mile run across the state of Pennsylvania that raised over $6,000 for the Trevor Project! On the run, I was invited by fellow runners to join them at runs with Wynnefield Track Club and West Philly Runners the next day.
With philly sport facts from Gagz still circling in my mind, I walked up to Lloyd Hall at 5:30am Wednesday morning. Impressed with myself for being up early, as I greeted Ubeche and Becca, smooth striding Freddy runs up and lets us know that he’s wrapping a seven mile run. There was nothing competitive about Freddy’s tone, but I still took it as a friendly reminder that no matter how late I’m up or how early I rise, there’s always someone working hard while I’m not. Freddy joined the photo then headed on his way. The remaining three of us ran up the SRT about two miles before returning to Lloyd Hall. We ran into a crew going to the November Project workout by the Art Museum Steps at 6:25. I contemplated joining, but after three runs in twelve hours, I didn’t have it in me. I returned home for a quick nap before starting the rest of my morning, relieved for the stretch of three runs in twelve hours to be complete.
The crew of around forty that gathered in Clark Park quickly dispersed to take on the outlined two, four and six mile routes. Telling myself I would take it easy since it was only 24 hours since I kicked off the three running events in 12 hours, I couldn’t help my competitive side’s rash decision to select the 6 mile route. We ran east through Center City then back west to Gojjo, where the group met for drinks. Worn out by the 6-mile experience, I never made it into the bar, only briefly chatting with a small group that was stretching out front before heading home for dinner and a much needed early night of sleep.
A train workout led by Adam and Kate, a former November Project leader, included calisthenics like boxing, wall sits, leg flutters, lunges and more that were creatively themed like cars on a train – boxing car, sleeping car, baggage car, dining car. Following the workout, we grabbed coffee at Elixir.
Following a much-needed rest day, I arrived to find a plethora of activity at Lloyd Hall on Saturday morning. I would later learn that there had been a Philadelphia Marathon training event at 7:00 am. Unsure of the exact profile of the Front Runners, I approached a group to ask if they were the Front Runners, only to be told that they were in fact the Philly Runners and had just finished their group run, which began at 8:00am. For the first time in the thirty runs, the thought crossed my mind that I might not find the group run for which I had shown up for. Unsure what to do, I decided to patiently find a seat in the shade and wait. Minutes later, I saw a group assembling to my left and was relieved to learn that they were the Front Runners and would be starting their run between 9:45 and 10:00 am. It was a hot run, but we made it up and back on the SRT, totaling 5 miles. The group was incredibly friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed the photo following the group run a bit extra this time.
During the runs in June, I would regularly run into a super friendly dude named Sunny. He was always enthusiastic about eseo, asked good questions and would share that the group he leads, Young Active Professionals (YAP) is an inclusive and welcoming group that meets several times per week to run or play sports. I knew that I had to attend YAP before the end of the month so decided to join the group for their “A” run on June 26. The route of the outlined run created an uppercase “A” and ended at a spot with coffee and a pop up food truck. The group kicked off with introductions at City Hall that included sharing a strange animal encounter that had been experienced. We then ran through the City Hall fountain and went through Passyunk, outlining the “A” before ending at Herman’s Coffee. Sunny and YAP did not disappoint!
Walking to Manton Green was the second time that I got truly soaked during the stretch of 30 runs (the first was during run #2!). The weather was ominous, but dry all day. Then a few minutes into my half hour walk to Manton Green, the heavens opened! I was a wet dog to the point where I don’t think my clothes or hair could have absorbed one single drop of water more! Of course, the rain stopped right at 6:30pm and a group of about twenty of us took off at a good pace (about 7-8 minutes per mile), running down to FDR Park before heading west and ending at Second District Brewing. Despite still being wet as a dog, I remember a ton of positive energy, laughs and banter at Second District before I returned home!
Brittney led twelve of us on a peaceful run through the Navy Yard. The crew was incredibly welcoming and kept a variety of paces. I fell right in the middle of the pack! The Navy Yard was quite pretty and had a more relaxed feel from many of the other runs I went on during the month, which were typically through streets in a more compact urban environment.
Number 30! Arriving at the Oval I was excited to run the final of my thirty runs in thirty days. The group of almost fifty runners went around and shared names while the ferris wheel loomed over us. We took off and Larry led us on a route that went east, north then back west, finishing with a sprint into the Oval! I spoke to a fellow runner who had come from Spain for a summer program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), reminding me of not only how running can bring together people from different backgrounds, but also how fortunate we are to have world class facilities in Philadelphia, which serve as destinations for people from around the world. Following the run I was fatigued, but managed to take a thumbs up photo, fist bump fellow runners and thank Larry before heading home, filled with gratitude. As I walked, a slight smile crept onto my face - I had completed the 30 in 30 challenge! The thirty runs in thirty days had worn me out, but not before giving me a new set of friends and a Philadelphia experience unlike anything I could have imagined!
What began as a way to push myself, share eseo’s mission and learn how to better serve the runners of Philadelphia turned into an experience of Philadelphia communities and neighborhoods different from what I could have ever predicted.
As Gagz mentioned to me while jogging over the Ben Franklin Bridge, running provides the opportunity to uniquely experience a city – providing the ability to taste, feel, hear and smell a neighborhood at any time of day. I’m admittedly someone who tends to live life in a bubble, frequenting the same spots and rarely venturing off to explore other neighborhoods unless a clear reason to do so presents itself. The 30 in 30 challenge provided that reason. I consistently found it funny to be on a street that is a thirty minute walk from where I’ve lived the past five years for the first time, while I’ve visited cities, countries and continents exponentially farther away during the same five-year stretch.
How many miles did I run during the month? Many people have asked. The truth is, I’m not sure. I know it was way less than the 361 miles Cain conquered over 10 days in May and probably less than the June mileage count of many runners that I met during the month.
My intention wasn’t to hit a mileage goal, prepare for an upcoming race, or even to improve my cardiovascular health (although that was a welcome byproduct!). The purpose of the thirty runs was to show up, meet new people, listen and experience runs the same way they did, without focusing on pace, time, distance. I wanted to experience running in other people's shoes, whether HOKA, Brooks or Nike.
What is my biggest regret? Upon hearing that the web3 move-to-earn STEPN earned more than $122 million in profits in Q2, I kicked myself for not purchasing a pair of their virtual sneakers at the beginning of the thirty run stretch. Maybe then I could have shared in the millions of profits!!!
I’m half joking. Kidding aside, this post goes out to everyone who I crossed paths with during the journey. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt thanks for your kindness and support, which at times, was overwhelming. Many groups even invited me to join their Philly Mayor’s Cup teams, despite it being their first time meeting me!
I’ve been recovering the past few weeks. While I don’t plan on running everyday again anytime soon, I have a fresh pair of sneakers from Philadelphia Runner and vow that I won’t be a stranger to the Philadelphia running community and the friends that I made during the thirty runs in June.