The unforgiving wind blew sheets of rain across my face as I opened the door to Philadelphia Runner in downtown Philadelphia. I entered the boutique store dressed in my running gear, eager to meet the others who would be joining me on my 7-mile jaunt through the City of Brotherly Love. A befitting name for a place where the three of us would raise a combined total of $2300 in just over an hour, to help those in need.
Welcome to the Timex ONE Relay. An 800 mile journey from Chicago to New York being traversed on the feet of 120 runners who want to make the world a better place through the simple act of running. A dedicated and enthusiastic team from Timex is making their way across the country town by town making sure that runners are safe and that their miles are recorded with the help of the new Timex Ironman ONE GPS+ watch.
After being greeted by Genevieve Story, a competitive half-marathoner and assistant manager at the Philadelphia Runner, I began to feel right at home. Runners are usually friendly, easy-going types, and it’s never hard to find some common ground. Genevieve and I were sharing a laugh and comparing race stories as my ONE Relay teammates walked through the door.
John Ailor lives in the suburbs on the outskirts of Philadelphia. He discovered running last year, at age 60. Ailor said it was the 2008 Presidential elections that inspired him to start getting into shape after he realized the US healthcare system was in jeopardy. After biking to work for several years, he began running, and since that time he’s been busy logging miles during his lunch hour and racing on the weekends.
Casey Venella, the Director of National Events and Communications for Back On My Feet, enjoys running with her sister when she’s not busy advocating for the homeless or directing road races. Casey’s a Jersey girl, but spends her workdays in Philadelphia. Being from out-of-state, I was glad to have two experienced locals to guide the way.
John, Casey, and I were in good hands. The Timex team of Keith, Stacey and Pia were on bikes monitoring our progress and helping us stay on course and avoid any traffic hazards. We followed a beautiful “out and back” route along the scenic Schuylkill River Trail.
Keith is a former Ironman triathlete and New York City marathon finisher. He rode by my side for the first 6 miles until handing me off to Pia Baker who biked with me for the last mile. I asked Pia, who is Brand Director for Timex, about the ONE Relay, and why running and charitable giving are so intertwined.
The Timex ONE Relay grew in a very organic way, thanks to the coordinated efforts of Runner’s World magazine, CharityMiles, and Timex Sports to do something positive for the community through the sport of running. Baker said, “When you’re running, you feel so good about what you’re doing for yourself. Now, you can feel good about what you’re doing for someone else too.” Timex is making a charitable donation of $100 per mile, spread across a number of causes chosen by the people who are running in the Timex ONE Relay.
The ONE Relay coincides with a brand new product launch of the Timex Ironman ONE GPS+ watch that will hit the market later this year. The Ironman ONE GPS+ has an internal 3G connection inside the watch, which means that athletes can receive email messages, use live tracking features, and listen to their music on the run. All the ONE Relay runners are wearing the new watch to track their miles, receive messages of support, and offer feedback for future product development.
Will it happen again next year? “I would love to see this event continue” said Baker. “I think it’s a great thing. There’s been a really positive vibe and a lot of energy around this event. It’s been great for the brand, great for the running community, and we’d love to see this get bigger.”
If you would like to give your miles to a charity, it’s really easy. Download the free CharityMiles app to your phone and turn it on when you walk, bike, or run. Every mile that you cover will result in a donation to your cause. I guarantee it will make you feel even better about your exercise when it benefits others too.