For the past few months, I’ve been trying to find the best way to bring No Meat Athlete into the real world.
It’s not that the internet doesn’t rock. It’s that running and eating vegetarian food — what the blog is about — happen in real life, not in 0’s and 1’s.
To a large extent, the shirts have already brought NMA to life outside of the digital realm. Something like 3,000 people now own one, and every weekend our Facebook page is filled with race photos that people post of themselves sporting theirs — in the sun, in the snow, in the mud.
But Susan and I have both had this feeling that there’s something more here than just shirts — something more personal, more community-oriented. We’ve been working hard to figure out just how to make real-world NMA go.
And finally, with the help of your suggestions and requests, by email and in person at festivals, we think we’ve got it figured out.
I mentioned the pictures that people send of their NMA shirts. But even better than these are the stories of conversations and friendships that form when someone runs into someone else wearing the same shirt at their race or on their jog.
We want to do that, only bigger and better.
On March 17, 2012, Susan and I are going to run the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and Half in Washington, DC. I’ll do the full; she’ll do the half. And we want you to run with us.
(They’ve also got a half marathon relay so you can split the distance with a friend if you want.)
We’re going to do dinner with a special menu made just for plant-based runners the night before, along with a quick shakeout run or relaxing yoga earlier on. And we’ll hang out and stay in the same hotel that night, plus do a little something (read: Sticky Fingers breads and bagels) on the morning before the race.
And that’s just one part of it. There’s also an online component, where we’ll have a chance to get to know each other ahead of time and give help to those who need some training advice — say, if it’s only your first or second race. And anyone who signs up will also get (of course) a No Meat Athlete shirt, along with a bunch of other perks.
Think you might want to join us in DC and in the months leading up the race? You can get lots more information about what we have planned here.
(Gentle heads-up: because of the limitations imposed by the relatively small size of the restaurant, we can only take a handful of people in our group this first time. So if this is something you know you want to do, please do it soon, before it fills.)
If you can’t make it to DC…
Bummer, but don’t fret. We’re super excited about DC, but it doesn’t stop there.
This is the first of (we hope) many things like it. We’re looking forward to meeting tons of like-minded people this way — and even more than that, giving those tons of like-minded people a way and a place to meet each other and make friendships that last long after the race is over.
And if in the process we can be a presence at the races and in the cities where we do this, helping people see firsthand that vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean weakling, then all the better.
We’re already setting our sights on several races in different parts of the country for Fall 2012. Is there a particular one you have in mind that would make a great fit for this sort of thing? Let us know and we’ll check it out!
Hope to see you in DC. And if not there, then in the future sometime :).