When I first learned I would be running the Boston Marathon for Back on My Feet (BOMF), and in turn, committing to raising $7,500, I freaked out. A lot. I didn’t think the training would be as much of an issue as the fundraising (yes, the tables have turned), but I knew that as uncomfortable I felt asking people for money, I would have to suck it up and do it. But in addition to asking people to donate, I wanted to make sure people were getting the most out of their donations.
I started thinking about all the fundraisers I have seen my friends put together-- parties at bars, yoga classes, spin classes. While all of these have been successful for them, I wanted to think about something more outside the box, something that would get people a little more excited than usual, as well help to raise awareness about BOMF. I honestly don’t know when or how I came up with the idea to race the T, probably while I was sitting on the T one day while rolling my eyes over how slow it was, but I’m glad the idea came to me because the event was a huge success that I hope to continue with in the future.
So, time to sit back and enjoy my race recap, but from the seat of the race director-- not racer.
As I mentioned, I don’t know how I came up with the idea to race the T. With those of you who aren’t familiar with Boston, the T is our subway system. There are 4* lines: blue, red, orange, and green (*the Silver Line is considered a line, but I think of it more as a bus). Most run underground, or if above ground, on their own path, except for the Green Line. The Green Line has 3 branches, B (starting at Boston College), C (starting at Cleveland Circle), D (starting at Riverside), and E (starting at Heath Street). The B line is known to be the slowest as it runs on Commonwealth Ave., also used by cars/bikes/pedestrians, and stops very frequently (apparently BU students can’t walk more than a quarter mile). Making fun of the T, especially the B line, is one of Boston’s favorite pastimes, and I was so excited to have come up with a fundraising idea that incorporated Boston culture.
Once I came up with this idea, I started working with my friend Alain, who is the founder of RaceMenu, on logistics. RaceMenu helps event organizers make their events more friendly, more fun and more profitable, and I knew I would definitely need his expertise with organizing the race. I decided the race would run from Boston College T stop (the beginning of the B line) to Blandford T stop (the last stop before the T went underground). This route was a little less than 4 miles and ran right next to the T, so you would be able to see how you were doing against the T while running. According to Google, the T takes 32 minutes from BC to Blandford, and I knew it was totally doable to beat.
My dad (Hi Dad!) also helped me come up with a waiver for all participants to sign (not once, but twice) so they couldn’t sue me if they got hurt or hit by a car (spoiler: no one got hurt). It always helps to have a lawyer in the family! I also wanted to find a place to host a post-race party and thankfully Scoozi, who is Blandford T stop (and the finish line), offered up some space and even offered to donate 15% of food sales to my fundraiser.
Great, hard part done! Just kidding. Next I started reaching out about prizes and raffle items, and thankfully had a ton of success. Tracksmith so generously donated singlets for the fastest male and female, while a long list of awesome brands donated raffle items. Thanks Drizly, Mother Juice, Fitbit, Oakley, InsideTracker, Dig Inn, General Assembly, Nuun, 90+ Cellars, Sarah Wasser, Red Sox, Landry’s, Los Amigos, and Sweetgreen for the awesome raffle items! Mother Juice also offered up some juice samples and bfresh donated 150 bananas for runners to snack on post-race.
My friend Polly also offered to laser cut some T shaped medals that could be spray painted and given to those who raced. Not wanting Polly to spend all of her time laser cutting these, I used them as an incentive to get people to pre-register, and gave them to the first 55 to register.
Although I had some technical issues with Facebook and Eventbrite, I made sure to use those platforms to keep everyone updated about the event (and have them register on Eventbrite). Eventbrite played a huge part in the success of this event as it basically advertised my event for my, based on people’s search preferences. I thought this race would be 75% my friends and November Project, and maybe some people I didn’t know, but it was actually the other way around.
Additionally, a few weeks before the race, a reporter from Boston Magazine saw my event on Eventbrite and wrote about it. Clearly my PR degree paid off because at this point, I was doing 0 PR and the story got picked up! This story in Boston Magazine led to a few more, and after I pitched* the story to some other news outlets (*read: tagged them in Instagram and Twitter posts), Boston Globe, BostInno, Brookline TAB, WHDH, The Huntington News, and even Reddit had reported on the event. Thanks to this, I had over 100 people register for the race before the morning of the race! That was $2,000, so I would call it a success!
The week leading up to the race was spent organizing raffle items, medals, and making sure everything was ready for the start of the race. Thankfully a handful of my friends (Hi Amy, Colette, Claudia, Ryan, Mat, and Maya) offered to volunteer their time to make sure everything went smoothly, so I could breathe a bit easier knowing that. Amy and Colette were going to be at Scoozi with medals (and bananas) and in charge of setting up the raffle, while everyone else was with me at the start. Those at the start would check everyone in, have them sign the waiver again, get a wristband, and then go over race rules. I also spent this week trying to figure out my apartment, since we had until that Sunday to tell our landlord if we were staying for September 2017, and there were only 2 of us (out of 4) on board with that (side note: that all got sorted out and we’re staying! yay!).
On Friday, the day before the race, I made sure I had everything ready to go and after getting on the wrong T and then sitting in a Lyft for almost an hour, I got to bfresh to pick up the bananas. I honestly didn’t know what 150 bananas would look like, but 2 cases of bananas is a lot, and having to get them actually drove me bananas! I dropped the bananas at home and then rudely ran out on Colette and Amy to try and not be even later to birthday dinner with some of my friends at Jon’s. Thankfully Colette and Amy are saints (and I bribed them with ice cream… which I still owe them) and said they had everything under control.
The next morning I got to BC about an hour before the race was supposed to start and thankfully Mat was there to calm me down. Quickly, excited people started filtering in, as well as a crew from WBUR and WHDH. Around 10:30, I thanked everyone for coming, as well as reminding them about traffic laws, then headed to get onto the T with Claudia and Maya. I split everyone racing into 2 waves, to keep the sidewalks as clear as possible, and was excited to be on the first T-- racing the first 75 people. The whole 4 miles from BC to Blandford was spent passing-- the getting passed by-- runners, but ultimately only ~10 people beat the T. Since the first T picked up most of the people waiting for the T, the second T beat everyone running.
Once the race was over, I was so relieved that no one got hurt and everyone had fun. We all gathered at Scoozi for some food and raffles, meanwhile I was just happy to sit down and be done with everything!
Despite all the stress, I was thrilled with how Race the T panned out. The event raised $2,500+ (getting me to my $7,500 goal) and maybe more importantly, a ton of awareness about BOMF. Again, thank you to all those who participated… start your training for next year’s Race the T!