Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getting Trashed

On Sunday, my road racing team, Western Mass Distance Project, kicked off the 2014 Grand Prix season with the Jones 10 Miler.  It was the first test of the year to see where our fitness was and how strong the team had become.  As a new team, we were also hoping to improve upon last year's results as we continue to grow.

(Fellow WMDP athletes working the shoe collection)
But, I'll admit it, I was most excited about the used shoe collection drive that I had coordinated for WMDP at the race.  We partnered with Rerun Shoes, a local organization that takes used shoes and sends them to those in need in Africa (to help prevent the spread of malaria, among other things).  I figure that other runners are likely similar to me - they have shoes that they love that have long since worn out, or that have been replaced by shoes with less mud and stink, but that still have some life in them...and they are just waiting for an opportunity to do something good with them, because they can't bear to throw them in the trash.

(Rerun founder Michael, and I, loading up collected shoes)

Turns out, there are many folks like me - as we collected about 600 pairs of shoes from runners throughout New England.  This helped us to make a $300 donation to the Kristin S. Tetrault Scholarship Fund, which helps send local western Mass runners to college (created for my teammate Kristin Tetrault!). 

(Photo of the shoes we donated being processed before being sent to Africa)
Fortunately, an awesome company, Atayne, wanted in on the action and donated 5 running shirts for us to raffle off to anyone who donated shoes.  Atayne is a company based in Maine that makes high-end athletic apparel out of recycled materials (such as bottles, technical shirts, etc.) - "performance with a point of view", so their mission coincided perfectly with the shoe collection drive. 

The shirt raffle winners were:
Liz Cooney - Somerville Road Runners
Jon Joyce - Western Mass Distance Project
Tom Cole - Summerville, MA
Michael Olkin - Coffee Cake Club
Melanie Rothstein - Longmeadow, MA

(Rerun founder Michael, and I, loading up the collected shoes)
The founder of Rerun Shoes, Michael Aronson, told me that this was the most successful one day/single event shoe collection drive he's ever seen.  He was truly impressed with the volume of shoes that were collected - with about 650 runners and 600 pairs of shoes collected, that means we averaged almost one pair of shoes per racer!  It just goes to show what a difference the running community can make when we work together.

My team did well at the race - having our best results ever as both the open and masters team took 4th place.  Brian and I both had rough days and didn't race well, but with the shoes we collected it was a still a successful day!

Here's a bit of press we got before the shoe collection drive:

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