This picture was taken from dinner this past year in Whitehall, MI. I rate these two dinners so highly because they really were the beginning of another phase for the team. We’ve had change on the team and I think that’s something which brings growth.
For us though, from ’17 to ’18, the team really turned over in a big way. When you’re a bunch of adults doing this kind of thing, this needs to find in and amongst life for it to work. For Jenn and I, it’s lasted this long because we’ve made it work but we’ve not felt that anyone from any year is beholden to doing it the following year. There’s certainly no contracts involved in this.
So from ’17 to 18, like I mentioned, change happened. Jenn, Michael, Andrew, and I were the only runners from ’17 to commit to ’18’s team as runners. Artie stayed on but as a driver, bringing Amanda with him. We brought back Cherri and Ryan, who’d run in ’16 so there was definitely some familiarity with how we operated there for them but as far as newbies went, we added Ashley, Kelly, Chris, Melissa, Matt, and Amanda. In total, 8 of our 12 hadn’t run the year before and with going to Michigan vs. Chicago, change was the name of the game for us. We event lost Andrew a few days before the race which kept things interesting for how we approached the race so again, more change and adaptation.
From ’18 to ’19, we saw some change, but not nearly at the same level. We lost Ashley and Melissa and gained Chris and Amy-Jo, only to lose her to a last second emergency as well.
Why these dinners rate so high, though, is while we had had dinners in Madison in years passed that can’t be ignored, having so many new people that the majority of the team was getting to know all at once, especially that first year in ’18, it was extremely cool to see how quickly the team came together and it’s why those teams will always be special. Those dinners kicked it all off.
These two. There’s so much about that 2015 team and the experience that I look back on and smile. I think the newness of it all was something that made it special. No one, and I mean no one had an idea of what it’d be like really. We saw Ragnar Relay as something that was a daunting physical challenge that if we could get in shape for it, it’d be great. We noticed something though, in pictures leading up to it, we noticed a ton of costumes. It just seemed like it was a bunch of adults acting like kids, all while running 200 miles.
Adam and Artie provided that level of entertainment for us. The cool part of it is that neither one of them had ever met before the race…ever. When they both comitted to driving for us, I told them if they wanted to do something, it’d be a lot of fun.
The next thing we know, Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr are driving our van. They were immensely popular with the other teams and had quite a few pictures taken with other runners. They even ended up in the post from Ragnar showing pictures.
In all, having those guys around just made the whole experience a lot better. There were certainly a lot of nerves and they helped take the edge off and for that, they make the list.
NeighborLink Fort Wayne‘s Night Moves series of runs is pretty awesome. Being that 2019 was our first year running to benefit them, we wanted to make sure that we were able to participate in some of the events that they were putting on and we LOVED IT.
What made this run special wasn’t because the course was awesome, which it was, or that the weather was so great, which it was, but because of the vibe of it and what it meant to the team.
2019 marked the 4th year the team was together, last as Runnin’ Not Walken, as well as the 5th Ragnar Relay that we’d be training for as part of our epic running efforts to make a difference in the community. That all said, it was the first time that anyone on the team got together to run together prior to the Ragnar.
We had Matt and Amanda, Chris, Kelly, Jenn, and myself and then Artie and Amanda showed up as we were finishing to enjoy the atmosphere there atFort Wayne Outfitters, which was really neat. Everyone that ran that night, ran for the fun of it. There was no official distance so how could you aim for a PR? It was about doing good and having fun and boy did we.
We got to run through Fort Wayne’s new Promenade Park, the weekend it first opened, and then all around through downtown seeing some of the beautiful murals that have popped up doing the last several years, all while the buzz of a couple day food and arts festival was winding. The atmosphere which is constantly building in downtown Fort Wayne was just wonderful that warm August night.
We even walked down to Hop River for a drink there after it was all over to catch up and hang out. As far as nights as part of this team go, this was pretty special.
Year 1 was so special and different aspects of that first race will always be something that be near and dear to my heart. Courtney’s beginning here is really the culmination of a lot of hard work by the team to get ready, a lot of hard work in fundraising, and a ton of nerves because we had no idea what we were doing.
Her first steps really were the first steps of what would become 5 years of working to help those that are making an impact within the Fort Wayne community. None of us knew that we’d pass $25,000 in fundraising and that at least 4 more races were to come when she went flying down that chute but it’s been a pretty awesome ride and it all started right here.
This still makes me laugh to this day. Brandon had brought a cowboy hat to wear during the race and a lot of people had funny hats. He even brought one of his old football helmets. We were having a blast with the race and I simply thought he’d wear it somewhere along the way but not during a run. I was wrong.
There’s not much more to say than, can you imagine running 4 miles with a football helmet on?
None of these accurately show just how tough the night runs can be during a Ragnar. The reason this comes in at #10 isn’t because it wasn’t hard. It’s more that there were so many other moments that come in that I’d rank higher. It’s been a full 5 years of running and fundraising and looking back on it all, my heart is full of what we’ve accomplished.
Conquering 2019’s night run was huge though, mainly because 2018 had been so brutal as well as because ’19 had some of her own tricks up her sleeve that really changed the course of the whole event for us.
While 2018 was COLD, 2019 had a massive storm to the southwest that had us all worried. The waves on Lake Michigan were massive as you can see in the attached video. It was pretty awesome but definitely rockin’ out there.
I was in Van 2 and we had handed off early afternoon, if I’m not mistaken. The good news was that as the storm was coming, we were actually already at a point in the race where we were headed straight north and if we could run fast enough, it was apparent that we’d may clip it just slightly vs taking the full brunt of it.
Van 1 got wet though. Due to a runner withdrawal the previous day, we were down 1 person and the race itself was a bit of a work in progress for us to cobble together the miles as best as we could. Coming into the evening, Kelly, a second year runner who had run the Indy-Mini earlier in the year, decided to take on a stretch of additional mileage that would end up with her tackling not only her leg of the race but enough of the next to add up to 11 miles. It was an incredible effort.
As the other runners in the van sloshed their way through the rain, which at some point was very heavy, in the very distance, we could tell there was lightning and we began to worry about their safety. Van 1 blasted through though until a lightning strike hit close enough to the major exchange that we were waiting at for them.
I believe Cherri was on the course at the point where Ragnar officials put a 2 hour hold on the race, skipping 1 leg. That’s where things got off the rails a bit for us. We’d consistently been running in the middle of the pack during the race as we had, what I felt, was no doubt, one of our strongest teams. We were ordered to skip the next leg which was Amanda’s and I believe it was a 4-miler. If only we could have gotten her on the course to pull her in and skip the next one, an 8 miler, we would have been up with the rest of the crowd. That’s not what happened though. We just needed 5 more minutes to do that and we didn’t get it.
What happened was that a lot of the runners we were running with were able to get onto that 6th leg of Van 1, pull their runner in and skip the 8 miler. We still had to run it which effectively put us 8 miles or at the speed that Michael was running that day, about an hour behind a lot of the teams.
By the time I took the hand off for the last leg of Van 2, there were only about a half dozen teams ahead behind us at that point, from what the official told me. I’m not going to lie, my heart sank. I knew that the rest of the race would be pretty lonely for our runners and have a completely different feel, and it did.
Van 2 wasn’t without it’s tribulations either. In the rain, Jenn had made the decision to wear a different pair of shoes so that her primary ones wouldn’t get wet for her last run. The above video was the start of that run. That proved to be a mistake as she ended up with some severe foot pain. Additionally, I would take on my nemisis of a leg in the night that I felt so awful during Ragnar Michigan ’18. My training had led me to that leg and I was excited for it, much less so when I learned how few teams were on the course when I took off.
From my recollection, it was supposed to have been about 1 1/2 miles of mainly uphill and then some fun downhill, which in ’18, I was in enough hip pain that it wasn’t very enjoyable. The map said it was only about a mile. In reality, it was probably about 2 miles because once I got to a mile, I could look ahead and it was just nothing but looking up. About halfway through after power hiking some of the hills, I got the point where it was heading downhill and looking like more fun again.
Admittedly, this stretch of road is desolate and if you don’t like being out in the middle of nowhere alone, you could be freaked out pretty easily. I was doing really well and then a vehicle that wasn’t a Ragnar Van came past and honked it’s horn at me. It starteld me and I jumped a bit to the side, catching the side of the road, and rolling my ankle left ankle. Luckily, I didn’t really sprain it as it rolled through it and got my next step on without falling but unfortunately the awkwardness of the step caused me to tweak my right groin muscle. I slowed down a good bit before taking off again, hoping that it would loosen up a bit, which it did and I was able to complete it with a time that was a considerable improvement on the previous year.
This makes it all sound pretty rough and I’m not going to lie, our track record with night runs isn’t great. I think of the 5 that I’ve had, only 1 or 2 have been good, but conquering them is something special and after freezing our butts off in ’18, to be able to come back and deal with the rain, covering for a lost runner, pain, and injury, it’s always satisfying to finish it off.
Good morning! With so little going on of late, there’s not much to chat about so I thought I’d start a series of posts about Runners Doing Good, formerly Runnin’ Not Walken’s, Top 10 moments from the last 5 years.
Granted most of these will be through my eyes but then again, I’m the one that’s organized the team during this time and the only one who’s run all 5 Ragnars so I have both a personally view on some of these as well as the big picture of having watched the runners work so hard to conquer these courses. It’s been something pretty special to observe so I’m excited to share these moments with you over the coming weeks.
I’ll drop 1-2 per week, describing the moment with pictures and then may provide a bit of video commentary on occasion.
You may see some pictures like this:
The first one will land on Thursday, May 21st! Talk to you then!
In the article from the other day, one of the team goals was to become self-sustaining. That’s not an easy thing to become when you’re a group of runners, doing this for fun, but with a purpose. We’re not a Non-Profit who can go out there, organize, and bring in donations that benefit us directly.
Every dollar that we’ve raised has gone directly to the groups that we’ve worked to raise money for and we’ve not kept a penny. Sponsorships that we’ve received throughout the years have helped with operations but none of that is kept from year to year. If we had anything left over, those monies went directly into our fundraiser.
So here’s the cold hard truth of the reality we face in 2020. If we would have had Ragnar Relay Trail Michigan go off in June, we would have been in trouble. While we were ahead of pace on our fundraising, our sponsors were dealing with the impending consequences of Covid-19 and couldn’t commit at the level they normally would. We had enough to cover certain costs but we were still about $1500 short.
This only magnifies the want and the need to become more resourceful as a group so that if we do come up short, the runners don’t have to shoulder the full burden of the expenses to participate in this epic running events.
So here’s the ask….let’s start small. If we can sell 20 of these wristbands, that will cover the costs of running this site and get the team a runnersdoinggood email address so that we can more formally approach local businesses.
Beyond that, the more of these that we sell, the more costs we can cover on our own so that we’re not so dependent on sponsors to help boost our efforts. Selling wristbands, tshirts, or hats, could be that boost.
The hope is that through team sales that at some point, 100% of our sponsorship costs will go directly to our fundraiser. That’s a big next step but I believe that’s where this could evolve to if it gains some traction so, again, let’s start small. Let’s sell 20!
Who wants one?
Runners Doing Good Wristband
Join the movement! All purchases help cover the costs of team operations. Do some good and look good on the trail with your new Runners Doing Good wristband!
Hey everyone! I hope this finds you well. It has been an absolute roller coaster of a year and it just got me thinking about where we started at the beginning of the year, where we’re at now, and where we’re going. We’re only in May but wow, a lot has happened!
Where We Started:
We started January with the idea of working towards becoming fully functioning in 2020. We started selling wristbands like what you see above as a way to raise funds outside of just leaning on sponsors. We had to be more self sustaining. That’s the next step. More on that later.
We also began January that along with trying to become self-sufficient that we would also work, as we have, in the past to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne so that we could pull off another fundraiser like we have every year to date. We scaled back on the team and registered for Ragnar Relay Trail Michigan which greatly reduced our expenses because there were just a lot less moving parts:
Fewer runners = fewer costs
0 vans = huge savings
0 condos rented = huge savings
Overall, expenses were cut about in half
Optimism reigned supreme
Where We Are:
The work towards self-sustaining the team is still “in progress.” We’ve sold enough wristbands to make our money back so with more then 375 of them still to go, there’s a lot of potential in them at $5-$10 each.
We kicked off our fundraiser and while the first month or so was quiet, we received a commitment from a long time donor to match every donation in the month of March. This led to a $1466 match in March, for a total of $2932 – our highest fundraising month EVER.
In perspective, that’s almost 3 times as much as our ’15 goal and about $700 more than we raised in that year and we did that in one month.
Currently we’re at $3,032 of our $5,000 goal – all from private donations and the donor who matched.
So that’s where we’re at with our efforts towards a fully functioning team and the fundraiser to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Covid-19 happened and this is the bigger picture:
The team’s effort towards self sustaining ourselves slowed and is “still in progress” because we needed to get the fundraiser up and running. It’s just me doing most of this so trying to do both things besides all of life’s other requirements for work and family, the fundraising is what got us here and we couldn’t let that slide.
The fundraiser took off like lightning and we raised more in the first 10 days of March than we did in the previous year’s matching opportunity. The next 10-14 days were when new of the Covid-19 pandemic became more ominous and the uncertainty of it all let to a major decline in momentum in our fundraising. Understandably so people needed to figure out their finances.
By the end of the month, we had a pretty awesome surge to hit that $1466 but we’ve done little more. Our work to raise an epic amount of money, for a small group, was always tied to running an epic event.
Ragnar Trail Michigan was postponed to a weekend that our team couldn’t attend and which, quite frankly, we’re unsure if it’ll go off anyways and we’ve committed to running it in 2021. More on that later.
Uncertainty reigns supreme at the moment
Where we hope to go:
This is the part of all of this that’s so difficult. It’s just not knowing what’s going to happen as things begin to reopen. We just don’t know if another spike in infections is going to happen or not because everyone is slowly being released towards what felt normal once.
So if I could pull off my wildest dreams and turn this into a massive comeback story for 2020, this is what it’d look like to me:
We have a $5,000 goal for NeighborLink. While this is $2,000 less than what we hit last year, my hope is to, in this crazy climate, hit our goal.
Get the wristband sales moving. Right now, if we sell just 20 of them at $10 a piece, we will cover the costs of our website and set up an official email address so that we’re one small baby step closer to being official.
Start work on ’21. There’s a lot to be optimistic about 2021. If things work out like we hope, then we’ll be able to run Ragnar Trail Michigan and we’re starting from a place where our registration is already covered and there’s an outside chance where if we sold enough wristbands, we could fully fund the rest of our expenses on our own, which would be a huge victory.
At this point, again, optimism, even with a little uncertainty – it reigns supreme. Thanks for reading and expect more in the coming days.