Race #17 – 20 miles to kick off 2020

January 1, 2020, Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg, PA

Race #17: The New Year Run Challenge at Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg

The Cause: The New Year Run Challenge on January 1 combines “everything we want to embody at Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg: a fun event that’s community-oriented, active, charitable, and starts the year off with a goal,” says Fred Joslyn, shop co-owner.

This race is a free event designed to inspire runners to start the new year by running! Runners set their own race goals by running however many laps of a 2.2-mile loop they choose. And runners are welcome to purchase New Year Run Challenge shirts and/or to make donations, with all proceeds benefitting the running shop’s annual outreach trip to India. Every May, Joslyn and a handful of volunteers travel to India to teach a running clinic and provide shoes and socks to impoverished children. The trip is about much more than actual running–it uses running to illustrate how to set and achieve goals. By the end of the camp, the children complete their first 5K! Read more about the program, here.

I decided several weeks ago to set a goal of running 20 miles to kick off 2020! That translates to 9 laps of 2.2 miles plus another .2 to equal 20 miles.

Arriving at Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg with my New Year Run Challenge shirt, 9:30 a.m.
The shop is located in a large shopping center that includes a Target, Wegmans, Panera Bread and much more.
Allison was the first friend I bumped into. “Don’t go inside–it’s packed,” she told me. Last year, 50-60 runners participated but this year nearly 300 ran. What a great turnout!
Fred Joslyn welcomes runners! Standing-room only, inside the shop. There were lots of us just outside the doors too!
What a treat, to run into John! We did Fleet Feet’s marathon training together last year, and hadn’t seen each other since completing the Harrisburg Marathon a year ago–the first marathon for both of us.
Runners continue spilling out of the shop, ready for the race start, 10 a.m.
The first lap begins!
The 2.2-mile loop takes us down an abandoned road. Today, it’s a runners’ highway.
The first lap went by in the blink of an eye thanks to great conversation with my friends Joanne and Alex. We’re back at the shop! I ducked inside for a quick half-cup of coffee and bathroom break.
Lap 2: The abandoned road is a different scene, this time around! Many runners completed their goal of one lap.
Lap 2!
“Wait! Let us photobomb you,” shouted these amazing ASA runners (Athletes Serving Athletes). A team of 4 ASA runners took turns pushing their athlete in an adapted wheelchair.
Lap 3, 11 a.m. There are still a few other runners spread out along the course. It’s downhill here, but the course has several tough uphills too. What goes up must also come down, after all.
Lap 4, The abandoned road leads to a trail beside the Conodoguinet Creek.
Conodoguinet is a Native American word meaning “a long way with many bends.” 🙂
12 noon: Back at Fleet Feet, Fred Joslyn preps for a celebratory champagne pop. Many runners have reached their goals of 3-4 laps.
How many runners does it take to open a bottle of champagne (without a corkscrew)?
We’re up to 3 runners…
The bottle goes back to Fred… (At the back of the store, there are lots of yummy cookies and snacks available for a donation to the India trip fund–I waited until the end of my run to do this!)
We thought the 4th runner was the charm. She popped the cork… half of it!
It’s now 12:13 p.m. A little bit of a race delay!
Yay! Fred pops the remaining part of the cork & begins pouring. My friend Allison is excitedly waiting!
12:16 p.m. – Lunch = a Clif bar + mini mimosa
Lap 5 (11 miles for me) completed with run friend Michelle
Lap 6: A quick visit to my car where I have a mini-aid station set up with water, chapstick, energy bites (made with peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, chocolate chips, coconut) and my run bag with extra gloves, clothes on standby.
Lap 7 (15. 4 miles): Early afternoon shadows are starting to fall across the abandoned road
Final lap, starting lap 9, about 18 miles into the run. At this point, I know I’m going to reach my goal of 20 miles and I feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Only a handful of other runners have reached 20 miles (or slightly more) today.
Back at Fleet Feet, Shelby Joslyn offers congratulations! What a great day.

It’s about challenging yourself to start the year off on the right foot–no pun intended!

Fred Joslyn, Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg


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