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Sports Backers Blog

Great American 5000 Rundown

July 8, 2020

Greetings team captains, and welcome to the latest edition of the Great American 5000 Rundown! We aim to fill you in on all the exciting things happening while you’re making your way across America, so please share with your teammates!

Seward, NebraskaSince our last update, we celebrated Independence Day here in the U.S. A number of our teams, including Quaran-team, Whining is for Babies, and Muthas, passed through Seward, Nebraska on July 4. Seward refers to itself as “Nebraska’s Fourth of July City” and celebrates the holiday (in non-pandemic years) with a parade, fireworks and apple pie eating and bubblegum contests. Back in the 70s, they also had greased pole climbing, but dropped that due to requests from parents. Sounds like the rejected plot for “Footloose 2”.

Leaderboard update: The rate of teams completing the 5000km has really picked up! Among those finishing the event is the 12-person team, UIN 5000 (Ultrarunning in Nairobi), which reached the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday. They were led by captain Wingkei Chan’s 438 total miles (19.9 per day!).

Team Profile: Hash Law JnJ

We have 24 different countries represented in the Great American 5000, eight on one team alone! Hash Law JnJ is a team of Johnson & Johnson attorneys from all over the world and they are running in the following countries: U.S., Italy, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea. Team captain Simon Neill is in Diegem, Belgium. Simon learned about the event from a Runner’s World email and says,  “As everyone was working at home and unable to meet physically due to the pandemic, we thought that entering a J&J Law Department team in the Great American 5000 would be the ideal way to re-connect with colleagues globally, get active, and do good by raising funds for Feeding America. Within a matter of 2-3 days the team was full and we had a waiting list of other colleagues who unfortunately just missed out. The J&J Law Department is very connected globally so it was easy to recruit colleagues from around the world.”

“Before the start we held a couple of video calls at different times of the day to accommodate the different time zones in order to get organized, and we have set up a dedicated sharepoint on MS Teams where we share news, stories, pictures (a lot of pictures of our dogs for some reason, don’t ask!) and other fun stuff to keep us motivated. Many J&J lawyers do like to go running together when we meet up but that has sadly not been possible this year. This is the first time to my knowledge that the J&J Law Department participates in a virtual relay race like this; however, it is very typical of J&J lawyers to jump at the opportunity to connect with colleagues globally and to get active for a good cause. This is by no means the first time. In fact, it is the continuation of a longstanding tradition.”

Need help getting to the finish line?

We still have a number of teams that haven’t reached Nevada yet, some because they signed up late (shout out to “Distanced Distance Runners” who registered just yesterday!) and others because you just don’t have enough team members to accumulate the miles. Reaching the finish line by September 14 is looking doubtful at this rate, so may we suggest combining some of your teams? If you’re interested, email us at [email protected] and we can connect captains looking to combine teams/mileage.

Let’s get Social

Be sure to follow the Great American 5000 on social media and tag us in your posts with #GA5000, or keep up with the blog version of the Rundown here: www.sportsbackers.org/blog/great-american-5000-rundown/

Instagram: @GreatAmerican5000

Facebook: /GreatAmerican5000

Twitter: @SportsBackers

Thanks for reading!

 

July 2, 2020

Greetings runners! We’ve had an exciting day of finishes so far, as Frank’s Old Boys became the second team to finish, slightly ahead of Team 011235813213455891442333776109 in third. It came down to the wire this morning, with sources close to Team 011235813213455891442333776109 saying they hit the streets for running at 12:01 a.m. today to get the miles in early, to no avail. Congratulations to both teams on their accomplishments, as well as Sea to Shining Sea, who crossed the finish line earlier this afternoon. We also checked in with TJ Dailey, team captain for the first overall finishers Meshingomesia Track Club, and he offered more insight into their experiences and strategies for managing the challenges of the Great American 5000.

One of the most intense battles taking place before, during, and most likely after the #GA5000 has been between Team Studs and Team Slugs, and that battle spilled over into episode nine of the Great American 5000 Recap Show presented by Buddy. Team captains (and husband and wife) Tony and Keira D’Amato joined the show and things got spicy. You can catch all episodes of the Recap Show at this link.

Team Profile: Eric is 40

During the #GA5000, many teams are hitting milestones in terms of mileage or entering new states, but they’re also celebrating life milestones like birthdays. That’s the case with the team ‘Eric is 40,’ which was set up by Rebekah and Eric McKay as a way to celebrate Eric’s 40th birthday. Rebekah explains how it all came together below:

“The team was organized in honor of my husband Eric McKay’s 40th birthday, which was on June 22. I participate in the Sports Backers’ Marathon Training Team every year and he is currently training for Ironman Maryland (along with another team member) and when he saw this event, he thought it would be fun to organize a team. It was my idea to make it about his birthday. All of the team members are connected to Eric in some way. There are family members, college friends, Richmond friends, neighbors, coworkers, and running friends. Getting people to join the team was easy: I sent an email and said Eric is turning 40 and we should virtually run across the country! In all seriousness, people were very excited to have a race to do. Most of us had races cancelled this season so it’s been a great motivator and a great way to connect. My 12-year-old daughter thought the name was lame (her words), but I thought it was funny, and true! Our team is spread out across Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio. A few of us surprised Eric on his actual birthday with a socially-distanced celebratory Hardywood beer. (Eric is the co-founder of the Richmond-based brewery). I think we are all running more than normal and for those of us that live far apart we’re talking more than usual as well. It’s been a great experience. A few of us are already talking about signing up for the Great American Ride bike version in a few weeks!”

Sports ETA Spotlight: Gillette, Wyoming

Sports ETA is the nonprofit trade association for the sports tourism industry in the United States, and is partnering with the Great American 5000 to help recruit sports commissions and destinations along the route to take part in the virtual event and add to the experience for participants. Today’s Sports ETA spotlight features Gillette, Wyoming. As you enter into Campbell County, take a deep breath of fresh air and look around you to the wide-open spaces! (But be careful you don’t run into a Pronghorn – they are everywhere!) Home of the Cowboy State Games, Gillette and Wright will show you a modern wild west. An hour from Devils Tower and five hours from Yellowstone, Gillette is an excellent stopping point on all your adventures! Be sure to run down through Main Street on Gillette Avenue and carb-load yourself with some of our amazing local restaurants like Gillette Brewing and Gone Postal Pizzeria. Grab some ice cream at The Ice Cream Café with their amazing homemade flavors or maybe swing by Momma Johna’s for a cupcake for the road! With an assortment of hotels to choose from you can stop for the night to relax, maybe grab a drink at Big Lost Meadery, have dinner at The Prime Rib with locally sourced meats, and finish your night at The Axe House. With activities, dining, and lodging for any group type, Campbell County will make sure you enjoy your trip when you come to Play Gillette!

Let’s Get Social

Be sure to follow the Great American 5000 on social media and tag us in your posts with #GA5000. Or follow along at the blog version of the Rundown here:

Instagram: @GreatAmerican5000

Facebook: /GreatAmerican5000

Twitter: @SportsBackers

 

June 29, 2020

Greetings runners! CONGRATULATIONS are in order to our first overall finishers, Meshingomesia Track Club! MTC hit the finish line in New York City earlier today and it has been exciting to see them making their way across the route in such speedy fashion. We hope to have more to share on their experiences soon, but here are a few stats from their performance: they finished more than 550 miles ahead of the nearest team, and had a team average pace of 7:23/mile for the entire 3,100-mile race.

Even though MTC has crossed the finish line, there are still plenty of teams out there, and as the leaderboard shows, there is a lot of competition as teams work their way across the states. One runner who knows something about setting a fast pace from San Francisco to New York is Pete Kostelnick, the current world record holder for running across America. He set the record in 2016 on a very similar route to the one being used in the #GA5000, taking just 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes. He joined episode 8 of the Great American 5000 Recap Show presented by Buddy to share those experiences and talk about his current performance in the race with his team, the Loose Cannons. All episodes of the recap show are available at this link.

And you’ve probably seen some interesting wildlife out on your runs, but nothing like the zebras (right) that Wingkei Chan saw while running in Nairobi, Kenya. Wingkei is part of the UIN 5000 team, and we appreciate all the photos that participants have been sharing as part of their #GA5000 experiences!

Sports ETA Spotlight: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Sports ETA is the nonprofit trade association for the sports tourism industry in the United States, and is partnering with the Great American 5000 to help recruit sports commissions and destinations along the route to take part in the virtual event and add to the experience for participants. Today’s Sports ETA spotlight features Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville offers guests a multitude of experiences. Here, culture and nature meet and free spirits thrive. It’s rich in arts, history and entertainment. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, it’s a nature lover’s dream. Local gives this community its flavor, and there’s always something happening here – a good balance between the old and new to provide change in a familiar place.

Let’s Get Social

Be sure to follow the Great American 5000 on social media and tag us in your posts with #GA5000.

Instagram: @GreatAmerican5000

Facebook: /GreatAmerican5000

Twitter: @SportsBackers

June 25, 2020

Greetings runners! Please take part in a very quick poll question: What’s the best word to describe your running this week?

A) Sweaty

B) Humid

C) Swampy

D) Sorry I can’t stop sweating and am unable to manipulate the keyboard on any device to type an answer

E) All of the above

In our last newsletter we asked what else Cozad, Nebraska, is known for besides being the midway point of the #GA5000, only to learn from nearby North Platte, Nebraska, that North Platte is apparently Where It’s At. Many thanks to North Platte residents and civic enthusiasts Mark and Gena Cullinan for creating this great video tour to share with our runners!

Leaderboard Update: Meshingomesia Track Club has put quite a bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. Can they be caught? MTC member TJ Dailey joined episode six of the Great American 5000 Recap Show presented by Buddy to detail their team strategy and it’s….pretty detailed. Catch all the recap episodes at this link.

Mac & Cheese Running Club

We all (presumably) love running, and we all (also presumably) love mac and cheese, and the Mac & Cheese Running Club, with participants from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Florida, is one #GA5000 team that has combined the two in a creative way. We caught up with team captain Gina Kraft to find out more and here’s what she had to say:

“The Mac & Cheese Running Club started because I (Gina Mackey) married a Kraft (Nathan Kraft). And that made Mac and Cheese! We have spent a lot of time running together and individually. We invited a friend to join us and trained for a marathon together. We had simply been the 3 of us for a while.

My husband saw a list of virtual events in Runners’ World. That is how we discovered the Great American 5000. We really wanted to try to complete it with the original crew, but knew that was a lot to ask. So, we reached out to some family members and friends and came up with a large enough team to make completion more than feasible. I don’t know that we will be competitive, but the challenge is to see how active we can all be and how quickly we can finish.”

Let’s Get Social

Be sure to follow the Great American 5000 on social media and tag us in your posts with #GA5000.

Instagram: @GreatAmerican5000

Facebook: /GreatAmerican5000

Twitter: @SportsBackers

June 22, 2020

Greetings runners! Welcome to the latest edition of the Great American 5000 Rundown! As of this writing, we are up to 239 teams in the event, so big shout out to ‘Where’s the Finish Line?’ for being one of the most recent teams to register and join the fun. As a reminder, the finish line is in New York City. And, as Mario Fraioli, host and editor of the Morning Shakeout reminds us in this video, the energy and vibrancy of New York City should help keep all runners motivated as they make their way across the Great American 5000 route.

Not only are #GA5000 runners working hard to get the miles in, but they’re also doing an awesome job supporting Feeding America, the event charity partner. So far, nearly $20,000 has been raised for Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Thanks to donations, the Feeding America network of food banks, pantries, and meal programs serves virtually every community in the United States, reaching 40 million people, including 12 million children and seven million seniors.

Taking a quick look at the leaderboard, Meshingomesia Track Club became the first team to hit the halfway point, which is in Cozad, Nebraska. Cozad, Nebraska, is of course famous for….being the halfway point in the Great American 5000? Anything else? Let us know.

Also noticeable when looking at the leaderboard are some interesting team names, including Team 011235813213455891442333776109. If you guessed that the name has something to do with the Fibonacci Sequence, you’re correct. If you DIDN’T guess that it has something to do with the Fibonacci Sequence, because you haven’t thought about the Fibonacci Sequence since a college math exam in the early 2000s, don’t feel bad. Several team members joined Episode 4 of the Great American 5000 Recap Show presented by Buddy to share more about the team name and their running inspiration, so be sure to check it out. You can catch up on all the episodes of the recap show by following this link.

Studs in the News

Keira D’Amato, captain of the Studs team in the Ultra Female division of the Great American 5000, recently made news with an incredible performance of 15:04 in a 5k time trial. You may have read about it here, here, here, or here. We crunched some numbers and can reveal that if she ran that fast for 3,100 miles, she’d make it across the #GA5000 route…really fast. Several of her fellow Studs teammates have also been in the news lately. Lindsay Flanagan recently discussed the intersection of sports and technology on the Tech of Sports Podcast and Samia Akbar, who holds the fastest marathon time by a U.S.-born Black woman, spoke with the Fast Women newsletter about representation in running for all age groups and her experiences in the sport.

Sports ETA Spotlight: San Jose, California

Sports ETA (www.SportsETA.org) is the nonprofit trade association for the sports tourism industry in the United States, and is partnering with the Great American 5000 to help recruit sports commissions and destinations along the route to take part in the virtual event and add to the experience for participants. Today’s Sports ETA Spotlight features sunny San Jose, California. With 300 days of glorious sunshine throughout the year, we are blessed to call the heart of Silicon Valley home. Runners love hitting the pavement through our 18 neighborhoods – vibrant Downtown, historical and picturesque Japantown, and electric Willow Glen are favorites of urban explorers. Looking for something off the beaten path? San Jose is blessed with trails galore – with over 200 parks and 60 miles of a growing urban trail network, outdoor spaces and activity levels run the gamut for all in San Jose. Locals like running along Guadalupe River Park, a three-mile river through the city, or the trails of Almaden Lake Park, a 30-acre lake with a bird sanctuary in the middle!

San Jose is the gateway to the greater California Bay Area and Central Coast. Our prime South Bay location, south of the San Francisco Bay waters, means we’re only one hour each way from San Francisco up north or Monterey down south. Furthermore, we’re only 30 minutes away from the Santa Cruz Beaches. With so much accessibility within and beyond city limits, San Jose is a runners’ paradise for visitors and locals.

Let’s Get Social

Be sure to follow the Great American 5000 on social media and tag us in your posts with #GA5000. Or follow along at the blog version of the Rundown here: https://www.sportsbackers.org/blog/great-american-5000-rundown/

Instagram: @GreatAmerican5000

Facebook: /GreatAmerican5000

Twitter: @SportsBackers

 

June 18, 2020

Greetings runners! The Great American 5000 is officially under way. Point Lobos in San Francisco provided a beautiful location to start this race across the United States, as you can see in these photos from Riley Scherer, a San Francisco resident who is part of Team Runders. Many thanks to Riley for sharing the photos.

The Great American 5000 currently features over 3,900 runners on 227 teams, and there’s still time to add runners or form a team. We have runners from 49 states (Wyoming runners, we need you!), as well as Washington, D.C. We also have participants from more than 20 countries, so this is truly a global celebration of running. Thanks to everyone who is taking part in this inaugural event, and we hope you have a great experience.

Now, to the most important part of the race: the leaderboard! Be sure to check it regularly. Bookmark it. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your coworkers in your next Zoom meeting. Trust us: runners need to talk more about their running. Everyone wants to hear more about that foam-rolling routine!

The Great American 5000 Recap Show presented by Buddy

Be sure to tune in to the Great American 5000 Recap Show presented by Buddy for interviews, insights, and leaderboard updates. The first two episodes are now available, and the second episode features an interview with Mike Wardian, a record-setting ultramarathon runner and captain of the Derecho team in the Great American 5000. The recap show will have plenty of great stuff for you as teams make their way across the country to New York so be sure to check back often.

Meet the Team: Meshingomesia Track Club

Meshingomesia Track Club (MTC) is one of the early leaders in the Great American 5000. Most team members originally hail from the Meshingomesia area of Grant County, Indiana, where Chief Meshingomesia lived with his tribe in the 1700s and 1800s. We caught up with their captain, TJ Dailey, to learn more about the squad. Here’s what he had to say:

We are rooted in Grant County, Indiana. A large portion of us grew up there together and then moved across the country, where we each developed our own small running groups. We landed in Oregon, Colorado, and California, as well as different parts of Indiana, and it grew from there. Our first major group event was the Minnesota 2019 Ragnar Relay…we were able to win the Standard 12-team event outright, by a little over a minute, which is obviously insanely close given the 200-mile distance. I think it’s relevant though, as it speaks to never letting your foot off the gas.

2020 had us scheduled to run Hood to Coast relay (which we’d been trying to get in for three years), but unfortunately it was postponed until 2021. The team was looking for a way to race this year and that’s when I discovered the Great American 5000…it hit me as the perfect 2020 alternative to an in-person relay race.

Our strength and strategy lies in our experience and commitment to each other. Most of us are in our 40s and those that aren’t have been running with us for a while. Since we’ve been running together for a few years now, we can trust that everyone is going to hold their own, and get their time in, at a responsible pace every day. This is going to be a multi-week grind, so we’re approaching it with that in mind. At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of older guys trying to stay fit, and live the dream!

Sports ETA Spotlight: Omaha, Nebraska

Sports ETA is the nonprofit trade association for the sports tourism industry in the United States, and is partnering with the Great American 5000 to help recruit sports commissions and destinations along the route to take part in the virtual event and add to the experience for participants. Today’s Sports ETA Spotlight features Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. Tree-lined walking and biking trails wind through the city, five area lakes and two rivers provide a variety of boating and fishing opportunities, and the city’s vast array of parks and gardens each offer their own unique fresh-air experience.

DID YOU KNOW? Located near the wooded Missouri River valley and along a main migratory path, Omaha is a birding hotspot. There are over 400 species of birds in Nebraska, and the state bird is the western meadowlark. Other species include the greater prairie chicken, the pied-billed grebe, and the ring-billed gull. All of those are actual names, we swear. Be sure to bring those binoculars as you pass through!

Let’s Get Social

Be sure to follow the Great American 5000 on social media, tag us in your posts with #GA5000, and let us know how your team is doing so far.

Instagram: @GreatAmerican5000

Facebook: /GreatAmerican5000

Twitter: @SportsBackers