I’ve been running for nearly three and a half years. I’m approaching 4,000 miles clocked. Many of which, I’ve run solo. I started as a means to get fit and so often found myself running on my own, during hours where I wouldn’t be seen, my efforts my own, pounds shed, hours of reflection toute seule. I’ve loved it but, being a gregarious chap, often found myself yearning for company. On several occasion I’ve thought about running with a club. I even approached a couple in my locality, but they all seemed super serious, regimented and a bit, well, stuck up?! To be fair I didn’t give any of them a real chance, but it seemed like it was all about the club colours, how well you performed compared to everyone else. Whether you could stick it with the best. It wasn’t really what I was looking for… Then I found out about Nike supported initiative Run Dem Crew.
I’d heard my bro talk animatedly of running with a group of guys and girls (shock horror – mixed groups!), different abilities, chilled out vibe etc. And then my friend LizzyP also talked to me at length about why she loved being in the same Crew and how she might be able to introduce me to The Man… Charlie D. I haven’t looked back. I’ve been a regular RDC’er for 3 months now attending most sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. I’ve run with fast people (you learn when you are a runner that there is always someone faster than you!), slower people, people with different objectives and goals, people from different backgrounds, different cultures, creeds. I’ve been accepted into the fam’. RDC understands me; understands why I run, why we run. We run the streets of London as a pack. No one gets left behind. I love it. So when I heard the Crew were going to Copenhagen to run a half marathon I jumped at the chance. Here’s my review of the weekend after a lengthy intro!
Run Dem isn’t the only running family that Nike have helped start up. The same groups exist all over the world. Two years ago, an initiative ‘Bridge The Gap‘ was conceived to bring these crews together at events as a global collective and then party party party it up. This was the second incarnation of BTG|CPH and I’d heard on the grapevine it wasn’t to be missed. It didn’t disappoint. Crews from all over descended upon Copenhagen to meet up, run hard and then party harder. Hosted by our Danish hosts NBRO, we were joined by Still Waters Run Deep from Manchester, Patta and Running Junkies from Amsterdam, Moskva River Runners, Paris Running Club, Bridge Runners and Black Roses from NYC, District Running Collective from Washington… probably others I’ve missed!
The weekend was amazing. We met for drinks (and party for some!) on Friday and a shake-out run then pasta-party on Saturday. On Sunday, race day, a BTG team photo (see above above), the minor event of a half marathon to race followed by festivities. For me as a recent RDC and BTG’er I was a bit anxious as I didn’t really know that many people, it didn’t matter. We were greeted with open arms and multiple ‘Hi!’s’ from our Danish neighbours and I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know other Crews (as well as my own!). The best part of the weekend was spending time exploring the city with these guys, learning about where they come from, why they run, what their goals were on race day. Oh yes, the running…
I’ll keep it brief, the run was great. Conditions were perfect, still, overcast, no wind, perhaps a little warm but only in the humid sense. The course was flat and wide, right through the middle of the city, great support on the side of the road from young and old. It was a picturesque route albeit a little bit tricky in places with the cobbles. I wasn’t running for a PB. I was running to train for Berlin, but the idea of going slow on the day didn’t happen and I got a bit excited by the prospect of running with such a large group and was told the course was quick. What I did know was that at miles 2 and 11 we’d get some additional support in the form of ‘Cheer Dem’ – basically anyone from the Crews who wanted to come and enjoy the weekend but weren’t running – and their support was amazing and gave me and everyone else a real boost.
Here’s me running through!
And here was the quickest BTG’er, my man Jens from NBRO, throwing down a 1:13:33!
When I hit the finish line, anyone ahead of me had waited, high-fives at the ready. This happened for everyone finishing be that up the front or toward the back; people gathered at the end to celebrate each others successes, be that a PB, a debut half marathon or just being able to be part of a team, run and get a medal – a reward and a smile for their efforts.
I’m not going to write about the party. What happens in CPH stays in CPH. But I can tell you it was off the chain… shots, sexy-boys running club, ‘getting low’ (whatever that is)… etc.
It’s been a week since the race and I’ve thought about this post and how I wanted it to read, what I wanted it to say, how to paint a picture of what BTG is all about. I wanted a chance to say thank you to all those who supported me and my new friends on the day, everyone who came and cheered (especially Cheer Dem), to all the RDC’ers I travelled with, to my housemates for the weekend Cheer Dem Chief Chevy, Team Leader Debs and PB Hols. To Lizzy P for inviting me to RDC in the first place. And this is really what this post is all about…
I’ve realised that yeh, running can be a very personal thing. I set myself goals, I achieve them, I keep fit, I run faster, I feel good about myself. But what running with a group (and I am talking about my Crew here but sure this exists elsewhere) brings is a common objective. We care about what others want to achieve, we actually speak to people (without prejudice or judgement), we break down barriers, we want to help and encourage those around us, we get a thrill when we see our buddies tell us that they just ran a PB. I’ve realised that it’s not just about me. Sure it’s about running my best and going for it, but it’s about more than that. Meeting new people, locally and around the world, making friends, learning to teach, to support, to encourage. Running has now for me become a more enriching experience as a result. I feel indebted to those who supported me last weekend, and more generally everyone at RDC. And I can’t wait to give back, to Bridge The Gap.
And so to Berlin…