The Next Big Thing for No Meat Athlete

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.

What’s coming

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 :).

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Comments

  1. Fun idea! I won’t be able to make DC, sadly.

    What about using this site to try to support any sort of meatless meetup at races, even if you can’t be there yourself? I know the marathon maniacs have forums as well as a facebook page to see who’s running what race and arrange for meals and pictures..?

  2. Lindsay Aaronson says:

    I am local to DC and already signed up for the half! I will be ready to rock my NMA shirt as I have in several of my MD Peta Pack runs! Looking forward to seeing so many others there! Now I am REALLY excited for this upcoming run! :)

  3. How incredible! I love this idea and I need something to get me back and motivated to run longer distances again. I really think you should check out The Grand Rapids, MI Fifth Third River Bank Run – its a 25K (one of the best in the country) in May. I ran it last year and have had trouble staying motivated since (its a long story – I over trained, did some things wrong, got burned out, etc etc). There is also the Grand Rapids Marathon and Half in October. GR is a beautiful (small) city and there are lots of veggies here! Anyway, this is such a great way to keep people excited! Great job!

    • I agree! Come to the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids! There is a 5k, 10k, and 25k option and it’s a quite large yet very well-organized race. And we have some great vegetarian and vegan restaurant options here. :)

  4. Chrissy Plourd Barnhardt says:

    This is so awesome! I won’t be able to make it to DC :( But, I’m running my first 1/2 marathon on 5/6/12 in Lincoln, NE. I would love for this sort of event to come to the Midwest and help spread the knowledge! :) I’m sure there are a few local places that would give their support: Pepe’s Vegetarian Bistro and Maggie’s Vegetarian Wraps.

    • I second the Lincoln, NE marathon on 5/6/12!! I’m doing the half and it’s going to be my very first I’ve ever ran! I never ever thought I could do something like this, but my friend convinced me to try the vegetarian lifestyle and 6 months later, I’m training for my first marathon!!

  5. how about good ole Lincoln NE? we have a great marathon/half marathon in May. I’d love some more veg heads to share the race with!!

    • OMG Laura, that is what I said too! Well, I left a comment a/b coming to Lincoln in May, but it disappeared. It will be my 1st 1/2!

  6. Dallas please!!!!!!!!!! It would be the greatest thing ever!

    • Texas would be a great idea–especially Dallas, San Antonio, etc. (basically not Austin because, even though it’s the best, it’s also the most veg-friendly already). The beef country would do well to see that vegetarians are awesome runners! And Dallas is flat. Hot, but flat.

    • My vote is for Dallas or the DFW area!!!

    • Doing the Dallas one!!

  7. Pamela Mooty says:

    May 12 – Grand Rapids, MI for the Fifth Third Riverbank run. The offer a 5k, 10k, and 25k. A huge race.

    Aug 25 – Wellston, MI. North Country Trail Run. They offer a half, full, and ultra (limited field).
    Sep 15 – US Air Force marathon!! Awesome people and awesome race at WrightPatterson Air Force Base close to Daytonm OH

    Oct 21 – Grand Rapids Marathon. Our race director, Don Kern, is the best. He is also a guiness book world record holder. He completed a marathon on all 7 continents is like 24 or 25 days just days ago.

  8. This is a GREAT idea!

    What about the Malibu Half and full marathon on November 11, 2012? It’s a BEAUTIFUL course a great run!

  9. COME NORTH!! C’mon, Canada would thank you! I’m planning on running my first full marathon in October 2012 at Niagara Falls where you start in the States and end up on the Canadian side at the end. I picked it for that neat feature, for the wine country not far away and, yes, because it’s rumoured to be a fairly flat course. Plan B would be to have you come up to Sudbury right around Rib Fest….yargh….no, let’s stick with Niagara.

    • P.S. It sounds like such a sweet deal that I’d sign up for the swag, but only if you’ll express mail me the bagels and pre-dinner.

  10. If anyone is interested, there is an amazing non-profit called “Silent Heroes” dedicated to preserving wildlife in Africa. They are a charity partner in this race, and if you would like to join in their cause and raise funds, check out this link!

    http://www.thesilentheroes.org/participate/runwild.htm

  11. St. Jude Marathon Weekend! This year was my first time running it (and my first half marathon). It’s a great cause and a really incredible experience.

    I also have my eyes set on the Chicago Marathon next October. It would be great to have some veggie love there, too!

  12. Great idea! When you finish all the races in your country, come to Europe then, OK? ;-)

  13. Sounds like a good idea… Run Woodstock in Pinckney, MI would work well. They have pretty much every race distance from 5k to 100 mile in one weekend (September 7,8,9) with concerts and camping.

    http://runwoodstock.com/

    • I second Run Woodstock. it’s an entire weekend event. Last year I did the 5k Friday, 1/2 Sat morning, 10k Sat evening, and 5 mile Sunday morning. I live nearby, so I could help provide veggie camping goods. You can also hike to Hell, Mi which is only a few miles away and get a delicious vegetarian wrap. Naked run options, yoga, music. Camping is commune style, we could have our own little veggie community.

  14. I absolutely love this idea!!! I can’t make it to DC, but I’m thinking of running my first marathon in Portland this Fall! I love to meet some more veg. runners! I love this movement! Woohoo!

    • Portland. Is. AWESOME.

      I did my first half there (Hippie Chick) and just ran the 40th anniversary full in October.

      That race is an amazing choice for a first full. Definitely do it! So much course support, run very smoothly and tons of vegan food at the end!

      Also, Portland = vegan mecca. I had such good grub! Going back again in 2012 to run the full again. :)

  15. What about the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon at the end of May 2012? Burlington is a progressive veg friendly city. I’d be into that!!!

  16. THE FLYING PIGGG!!!!
    ***CINCINNATI, OHIO****

    HUGE RACE HERE THAT IS HALF-MAR AND FULL-MAR.
    DATE: SUNDAY, MAY 6TH 2011

    WE COULD ALL CROSS THE “FINISH SWINE”
    WITH OUR VEGETARIAN T-SHIRTS (MWAAAHAAAHAHAH)

    • I also second the Flying Pig. It’s drivable from me (Bloomington, IN) and I have been wanting to try it. I hear the course is a monster of hills, though! But it would be a great midwestern race, centrally located.

  17. How about the ING Half or Full Marathon in CT, in October 2012??? It will by my first race, but there’s nothing I’d love more than running with my fellow vegetarians and vegans. After all, this site was one of the first that helped me transition to a vegan lifestyle in the first place!

  18. Hey Matt, that´s such a great idea! Bringing like-minded people together and showing that a plant based diet works great for athletes… Now I am looking forward to a NMA-European-Tour, maybe in 2013/14? Think big! :-)

    Best wishes from Germany,
    Daniel

  19. Would love to see you in NYC! I was hoping to make the DC RnR half my first half, but my sister is due right around then and I wouldn’t want to miss the race because she went into labor! I’m saving my first half for a bit later in the spring, and it will be in NYC. Hope to see you up here someday!

  20. How fun! I wished I could be there.

    I love the direction you are taking this and the sense of community you are creating with this event.

    Keep up the good work!

  21. for the fall– either the grizz ultra in montana or the VT 50!!

  22. That’s awesome! I’ve been thinking of where I want to do my 2012 half…hmm :)

  23. Love the idea! I am already registered for a half in May, so I won’t be doing the DC event, but I’m interested in what you decide to do in the Fall!

  24. Can’t make it to D.C. :-(

    Running the full Cleveland marathon in May. It’s the 35 anniversary!

    Please consider something for this!!!

  25. I signed up! Am pretty excited to train for my first half marathon!!!! Coming all the way from Asheville, NC!!!!!

  26. I second the Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, MI. There are a couple new vegan/vegetarian restaurants here that could probably be persuaded to help with the event. Otherwise, something in Chicago would be nice for us Midwesterners. The Soldier Field 10 Mile is a really fun race!

  27. I’m already signed up to run the Portland Marathon on Oct 7. Would be awesome to have a NMA group there!

  28. So excited!!! I’m still sidelined after messing up my foot during the Marine Corps Marathon, but if I’m hoping to run the half and would love to meat other NMAs :)

  29. This is fantastic! I’m all signed up! Can’t wait!

  30. Matt,

    Congrats on taking it to the next level – this is a great idea. If you ever take the show on the road, come to Portland!

  31. There are heaps of great off road and road runs year round in NEW ZEALAND. (That’s about 3 hours south west of Australia for all of you who havn’t been west of LA!). How about making it your first stop in your WORLD TOUR….we will do the media for you, and get a local buzz happening.

  32. What an EXCELLENT idea… I’m all signed up and ready to go!

  33. What a great idea! This combines everything I love!!
    Except … a friend has already talked me into the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach the day before! Check out Freedom’s Run in Shepherdstown, W.Va., probably Oct. 13 next year. http://www.freedomsrun.com This was my first marathon this year. Starts in Harper’s Ferry and runs through Antietam Battlefield. Marathon, Half, 5K, kids one mile .. this is the best!!

  34. Jon Weisblatt says:

    How about the Plymouth Run to the Rock in Plymouth, MA? There’s a 5k,10k, and challenging 1/2 marathon.
    Or the Harwich Cranberry half Marathon on Cape Cod.
    Glad to see your are organizing.

  35. Sounds great!
    Would be great to have “chapters” in each city, as most people are just regular athletes, who may not be travelling to run races?
    Sounds like a fun time!

  36. I’d love to see y’all come to the Midwest! The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon (and I’m pretty sure they have a 5K too) is a great race: early November, which means cool temps, flat race, great support on the course, etc. We successfully lobbied them to offer vegetarian food at the end this year (last year was beef chili…sad), so it would be awesome to prove that there is a huge community of vegetarian/vegan runners that need support!

    http://monumentalmarathon.com/

  37. YAY!! What a great idea! I won’t be able to make DC (March 17th 2012 is my due date!), but I’m super excited to see fellow Michiganders/Midwesterners on here making future plans :) Can’t wait for the future of NMA.

  38. I vote for Portland Marathon on October (I mean Rocktober)
    There is a huge Vegan community and loads of fantastic restaurants!!!
    There is a half marathon too.

  39. Such a great idea – and such pity that DC is too far away from Germany!
    I can only emphasize what Daniel already said – come to Germany! We would be the first ones to join you!

  40. Oh man! I just saw this, and am running it but it’s already full. Next time! Such a great idea!

  41. I love this idea! Wish I could join you on the 17th. I’m localish (right outside Philly), but we already have party plans that day. Willing to travel – give me an excuse to get somewhere warm in your next group :)

  42. I just signed up for the LA Marathon that weekend. Love the idea of meetups at races. Also, love the suggestions for 2012 especially Portland and St. Jude.
    Love the website. Just became Vegan/Vegetarian in July. Found this website and love it. I finished the NYC marathon set a PR, took 22 minutes off my time. Still run in the 5 hours but it was a great improvement.

  43. I see you already have a strong Portland following from some of the other comments (actually I have seen a couple of other NMA shirts around town too). The Portland marathon IS awesome. But I think you should get a “Hood to Coast” team…and let me be on it of course :) if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a 200 mile relay race for teams of 12. I’ve done it 5 times and am planning for at least 7 more so that I can try all 12 legs. There’s a great documentary about the race that was made this year-really good running movie! Teams are all formed for 2012, but people sometimes sell their teams if they can’t find enough runners. The Race is usually the last weekend In August.

    Good luck in DC!

  44. I have been looking for a marathon in March and was planning on running the New Orleans … but DC fits better in the training program and is a lot closer to NYC :)
    I better order my NMA shirt for it though.

    BTW: Matt I saw a girl rocking the NMA shirt at the NYRR Knickerbocker 60K race in Central Park last month. I yelled out a cheer though not sure if she heard me.

  45. Yes! Portland!!

  46. Wow, what a great idea. I have needed a little extra motivation to sign up for that race. I may just see you there!

  47. Matt,
    I’m an old lady (45) and I’ve been a longtime reader of yours. We bought a farm a couple of years ago, with the idea to raise animals ethically and process them ourselves. But I am now trying to convert to a vegan diet and I’m successful on most days (I haven’t bought your shirt yet because I haven’t completely earned it yet!).

    I signed up for the MDI marathon, in Bar Harbor, Maine, scheduled for October 14, 2012. I’m an inconsistent runner but I’m hoping the vegan diet will bring me energy and motivation. The MDI marathon is rated the most scenic marathon in the country. Also, check out the crow athletics club, which sponsors the marathon and is based on the island. http://www.mdimarathon.org and http://www.crowathletics.com

  48. Let’s do Chicago in the fall!! I want to do the full there and would LOVE some no meat athlete representation! If not there somewhere in the good old’ mid west? :)

  49. So…I feel sheepish for telling you this, but I just recently started following your blog and had no idea you’d sold 3000 tees! So cool. What’s funny is that I ran up behind a “No Meat Athlete” person/tee during the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Strip at Night 1/2 Marathon, and silly me…I thought, “Oh, my gosh! What are the chances?! I ran into one of the people who writes a blog I follow!!!”

    Well, it was one of the 3,000 anyway. Hahah! Glad you’re spreading the message! I love reading your blog.
    Katie

  50. I’m kind of late to the party, but I think that’s awesome! I asked for a NMA shirt for Christmas and didn’t get one so I’ll just have to buy it for myself. You guys will have a great time I’m sure! I know I love telling people who say my refusal to eat meat is “unhealthy” and “not sustainable” that I’ve actually run a half marathon so I think I’m doing just fine!

  51. I’ll be running the Surf City marathon on Feb. 5th. It’s in Huntington beach CA… Home to some amazing vegetarian restaurants. Maybe you can link up with local places like this to spread the word.

  52. I am vegetarian running the NYC marathon for the first time this year. I would love to meet other runners like myself who are vegetarian as well.

  53. Brooke Magni says:

    Hello! I have been having a great few days reading and re-reading your web-site. I am a long time runner and new-veg. I just wanted to touch base with you and see a) where are you based out of, and B) how can we get a larger chapter of NMA started :) I run with a pretty fast crowd and maybe we could get something started here locally. If you want my stats, I would be glad to send them…but for now I won’t bore you with details. Since switching to a veg based life style, I have had nothing but success and shaved off tons of time. I would be more than happy to help to inform others of the veg way of life! Just let me know if you would be interested in expansion to central PA!!!! Thanks and have a beautiful run.
    –Brooke
    brooke.magni@gmail.com

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