As a person, I’m not particularly healthy nor do I take care of myself. Those facts have been catching up to me through the years as I get lazier and my belly grows further. Early 2019, my usual self-hate turned specific towards my body, my lifestyle, and who I am as a person. I had become disgusted with my tendencies and realized I was an undisciplined mess.
Luckily, I have a friend named Ronnie who likes to run. In the Fall of 2018, myself and 8 friends had participated in a friendly race against one another using the Under Armour MapMyRun App & Ronnie had been aching to put together a second race for the Spring of 2019. Ronnie Paskanik took the initiative to set up the logistics of “Running From Our Problems 2019” - which through the power of social media became a 60-day race between forty people. The race calculated total miles ran over 60-days, using GPS technology on a smartphone. The majority of the running took place in Philadelphia and Bucks County, but also featured miles logged in Las Vegas, Hawaii, Washington DC, New York City, Jersey City, Baton Rogue, and Indiana.
This was a race between athletes and non-athletes. This was an opportunity for people to have competition in their everyday life. This was the only way I would be motivated to run, public shame and competition.
Speaking of publicly shaming, I would like to take the time to publicly shame the three participants who logged 0-miles over 60 days: Heather Kilduff, Blaise Capriotti, and Dave Lisowski. Consider yourselves shamed.
Early into this race, tensions were high and there were two flat out favorites to win - former Villanova Football player Fran Walsh and the winner of the aforementioned race in the Fall of 2018 - Ronnie Paskanik. This race started on March 15th, by March 18th Ronnie had amassed 44.09 miles and Fran had put up 28.28 miles ahead of Matt Taurone and Jimmy Boligitz who had ran 15 miles in the same time period.
But it would be absurd of me to solely focus on the winners of the race, because in a race of this nature - natural tiers will form. To be realistic, I am 6’’ 2’ - floating around 200lbs, depending on the type of week I have. Literally every mile I have ever ran is documented in the Under Armour MapMyRun App. While runners like Matt Taurone, Ronnie, and Dan Dougherty were putting up 5-miles in a day, I couldn’t breathe pushing for 2-miles for the entire first month.
Only three-days into the race, from March 15th to March 18th more than 18 people had ran at least 3 miles.
The narrative shifted on March 20th, as Fran Walsh fell victim to dual stress fractures in his feet. The first of many injuries to plague the field of amateur runners. At this point in time, it became clear that Ronnie Paskanik was the clear favorite to win. By March 29th - Ronnie had ran 80.13 miles leading Jimmy Boligitz in second (55.60 miles), Dan Dougherty in third (50.03 miles), Chris Rahill in fourth (40.35 miles), and even with his injury Fran Walsh sat at fifth (40.21 miles).
By April 5th, we had some semblance of who was leading the pack - we could tell who was going to run 100+ miles and who’s going to fight within the middle of the pack. As a middle of the pack guy, I’d like to focus on the more subtle battles on the leaderboard.
For example, the women racing have their own narrative - three women finished in the top 15 and two finished in the top 10. Imani Johnson was in 19th place with just 13.37 miles recorded on April 5th throughout the month of April she ran more than 37 miles to become one of the leading women.
Coincidentally, Lanie Klause led the women of this race throughout its entirety only to be bested by Kacie Farrell who ended up leading all women with 90.63 miles recorded - beating Lanie by a mere .61 miles.
Some of our contestants faced injuries that caused them to slow down, Fran Walsh, Nicole Williams, Drew Gobrecht, and myself to name a few. Our pack leader Ronnie Paskanik injured his leg on April 14th - prompting those behind him to turn on the jets. By April 18th, our eventual champion would hold the number one spot and the top three were essentially in place. Jimmy Boligitz - our eventual victor was the first to cross the 150 mile threshold with 152.90 miles recorded, Dan Dougherty held second place with 146.73 miles recorded, and Ronnie sat where he would eventually finish in third place.
So now you know who wins, so let’s turn our attention elsewhere. On April 23rd, participant Pat Friend was in 11th place with 61.90 miles in the last 20 days of the race, Pat climbed the leaderboard ending in 6th place with 100.17 miles. Similarly, Maeve Sears climbed from 23rd to finish in 18th in same time period.
Some people had harsher terrains to weather than others, Jack Hilferty, Nick Christowski, Pat Friend, Chris Rahill, Dan Dougherty reside in the Manayunk area of Philadelphia - a hilly, narrow concrete hellscape. I personally, ran on city blocks and along the Schuylkill River. Nick Ortiz and Ronnie Paskanik had the benefit of running on grass and utilizing trails.
Throughout this race, people took the initiative to run while they were vacationing or living their life. Cynthia Chindamo logged miles the day after a long night out in Brooklyn, Jack Hilferty logged miles on the Vegas Strip, and I logged miles on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
On April 24th, fourth and fifth place were locked into the positions they would eventually end in Shawn Needz passed Chris Rahill for the fourth place spot. Shawn ran 83 miles in the month of April, ultimately propelling him to fourth place where he ended with 142.54 miles. The opposite narrative is true for Nick Christowski who did not run in the month of May causing him to fall to seventh place behind Pat Friend in sixth.
“Running From Our Problems 2019” was a resounding success, throughout the sixty days - people from all walks of life were competitive with one another. People I hadn’t talked to in months were yelling at me about the app not working, updating me on their foot injuries, as if I was Roger Goodell and there was something in my power that I could do. Minor feuds and alliances formed. There was an overwhelming sense of frustration towards Ronnie for kicking all of our asses for a month straight.
As a person, I’m not particularly healthy nor do I take care of myself. It was important to me that I do something not only healthy, but positive - this experience was both of those things.
That being said, take the Summer to rest up and stretch - because we’re going to run it back this Fall. Thank you for participating in this silly little experiment. We logged more than 1,500 miles in this race, I sincerely would not have ran 30 miles if it weren’t for this race. So continue to run from your problems people, what else can ya really do?