On June 3, Fleet Feet locations across the country host local 5K races collectively known as “The Big Run.” It’s a nationwide event held on Global Running Day that unites runners of all ability levels to do what they all love to do: run together.
What makes this event such an important and impactful race for the running community? Fleet Feet spoke with several participants from the Pittsburgh area to find out.
The no-pressure race environment means The Big Run is simply a celebratory event. Some runners might be shooting for a personal best time, while others are just hoping to cross the finish line of their first 5K. No matter the goal, what brings everyone together is the sense of community and camaraderie.
“It almost feels like a family reunion,” says Vaughn Schmid, a Fleet Feet Running Club member now in his fifth year with the group. “I like the location and the atmosphere. It’s an excellent event, and you get to see people you may not have run with in quite a while.”
Rie Lauver is another Fleet Feet Running Club member who participates in The Big Run 5K with her two boys. Alex, 9, is a speedy competitor, while his younger brother Aaron, 6, enjoys running recreationally.
“We enjoyed the family atmosphere, the bling and the food afterwards,” says Lauver. “This was Aaron’s first 5K. Races where little guys are also encouraged to participate are great for building their confidence and their love of running.”
Jared Lashinsky is the owner of JL Photography & Design LLC, and has been photographing Pittsburgh’s Big Run 5K for the past several years. “The Fleet Feet crew really has built up this fun, family event year after year,” says Lashinsky. “I get to capture those special moments from the start and the finish, to the laughing and having fun in-between.”
While the details of each individual Big Run 5K vary region-to-region, there’s no doubt runners receive the best bang for their buck. Finisher’s medals, participant T-shirts, certified courses and post-run food and drink might all be part of the package for your local Big Run!
“Definitely the best post-race food of any 5K I’ve ever run, and you get to refuel and enjoy the post-race party. It’s absolutely worth the time and cost, and it is actually one of the more affordable 5Ks,” says Schmid.
“Fleet Feet always wants the runners and spectators to have a great time at any event. With watching the numbers grow year-to-year, small things also change to make the experience even better,” says Lashinsky. From more volunteers to the streamline process on getting all racers to the start line. Fleet Feet has everything moving in the right direction to continue to make this event special.”
And you don’t have to win the race outright in order to win cool prizes. With awards for the Common Ground finishing time, Middle of the Pack or Most Influential, everyone has a chance to bring something home.
There’s no doubt about it, being a part of something bigger encourages and motivates people every day.
The Big Run gives every participant this sense of camaraderie, no matter where they are in the standings or the States. It starts with the runner, and getting the runner plugged into their local Fleet Feet Running Club.
It’s about the Fleet Feet Running Club, and how this group connects with the larger local running community. It is these local running communities coming together under one banner, on the same day, from all across the country. And it’s about human beings celebrating a national holiday by doing what humans were designed to do: move together.
Other than all-you-can-eat-wings, what else are you going to do on the first Wednesday in June?
Running with a few hundred of your friends sure beats binge-watching another Netflix series. A 5K distance counts as a mid-week workout, and it leaves the weekend open for another race or long training run.
“We ran the Big Run because it fit into our schedule,” says Lauver. “The mid-week date worked well for our schedule. We look for the races that we can fit in between our other sports. We do enjoy Global Running Day and try to celebrate it by running at least a little each year.”
By Timothy Lyman. Timothy is the director of training programs at Fleet Feet Pittsburgh and an ACE certified personal trainer. With over a decade of experience in the field, his education ranges from sports psychology to exercise physiology. He has coached runners at all levels on every surface at any distance, with an emphasis on economy, injury-prevention and functional fitness.