If you have been following this blog, the November post is always one of thanks and gratitude. Not only is it the anniversary of when we started Rhode Races, but it is also the month that our race season is over and we are able to reflect on how grateful we are to have another year in the books, and more importantly how thankful we are for all of our volunteers, Rhode Crew, security, vendors and runners that helped us along the way. And while this year is certainly different from typical years, we are no less grateful.
We are SO VERY grateful that we were able to execute ONE event this year. Down from our typical 11-12, but that one felt so incredible. We are so appreciative for all the people that were there that day – runners, volunteers, staff, vendors. That one race felt amazing! Moreover, we are so thankful to all of our dedicated runners that stuck with us this year and were so kind and patient as we dealt with the unimaginable. But mostly we are just hopeful that we see a vaccine in the future and our ability to get back to our normal lives, not just races but dinners at restaurants with friends, and live music, and travel – all that has been restricted in the last year. WOW – we can’t wait!
In the meantime, we would like to share and showcase our feelings of gratitude and hope. We know that our typical turkey trots won’t be happening this year, most of them utilize schools or other small indoor spaces. We also know that our food banks are hurting – with more and more people out of work and struggling, food insecurity is rising. Finally, this year has been one that has brought diversity and inclusion to a boiling point in many cities. All of this can get very overwhelming and troublesome. So we always go back to where we feel best – running outside and appreciating the natural beauty around us.
I have been listening to a number of running podcasts lately and one that struck me hosted a diversity panel. They featured a Native American runner talking about her experiences and feelings about running and races. It was incredibly moving. (There was a number of other thought-provoking insights on this podcast if you are interested – #255 – Diverse We Run Panel Chat: Safety In Running As A BIPOC)
“You’re giving a piece of yourself to the land by engaging with it, by running on it and giving it your energy, giving it your time, giving it that space and acknowledgment,” Dinée Dorame said, a citizen of the Navajo Nation. The Indigenous belief of connecting with the earth and honoring nature while you run just represented the thankfulness of being able to run when all else around us is in upheaval – that simple basic emotion of feeling free and connected to nature while running.
So all of these thoughts swirling around has coalesced into our Gratitude & Hope Run – not a virtual race so much: less turkey trot, more audio running tour. We still wanted to get out and run on Thanksgiving morning – for me, that is as much a part of the celebration as the turkey! But we also wanted to honor the history behind this holiday and call to mind the truth behind it, just as a reminder as to what the day means and see if we can learn from it. Finally, we wanted to honor the tradition of sharing food with our neighbors.
So the Gratitude and & Hope Run is using some cool technology for all of this, while bringing a unique virtual experience. First – $10 of every entry fee will go to either the East Bay Food Panty or the Jonnycake Center, depending on what course you sign up for. Secondly – you will earn a long sleeve shirt and a top of the line technical mask from BocoGear. (I have been using this mask since August and it is hands-down the best mask I own, rated “Best of” by Runner’s World). The mask has HOPE written on on the front, not just as an homage to our State motto, but also to remind ourselves to always be hopeful. We will also be awarding $50 from a local running store to any individual that raises the most money as part of this event. They can pick their charity – we just need to get them set up in the system, so reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get this set up.
As for the run itself, we are offering 2 distances to choose from – 5k or 10k – and two courses – East Bay and Narragansett. The East Bay course starts in Warren at the bike path near Hugh Cole School and heads out to Touisset. The Narragansett course starts at Pt Judith and enjoys part of Galilee. You can either choose to run the actual course we created, complete with audio turn by turn directions as part of the app, or you can run virtually – on your own course or treadmill. The unique feature of this event is that the app will not only share the turn by turn directions, but also has a number of audio cues throughout the race providing a little of the Native Americans’ history in our area. While you are running, you will learn about the indigenous history relevant to the area as part of the audio cues of the course. While the true history of the Native tribes is not a happy story, I think recognizing the history behind the holiday is important and we can honor some of their beliefs of connecting with the earth and nature as we run on some of the same roads enjoyed by generations and generations.
You can run with your phone, but this worked just fine on my Apple Watch, without my phone (I do have an LTE enabled watch). I used earphones and I was able to listen to music with the audio cues playing over the music – much like your car navigation plays over your car stereo. The app will provide mile markers and turn around points on top of the historical information we have entered.
The end goal for this event is to raise money for our food banks, raise awareness of the Native American history in our area surrounding Thanksgiving, but most importantly as a reminder to ourselves as runners – to run with gratitude and hope for all of the blessings that we have in our family, our surroundings and our lives.
I will be out on the East Bay course on Thanksgiving morning, if anyone wants to wave HI!