The running gods blessed me last month.
On a hot summer day, I found myself mixed in a crowd of over 3,000 runners who crossed the finish line at the Biggest Loser Run/Walk in Chicago. Some of these brave participants were donning race bibs and new running shoes for the first time. Some walked, some jogged, and mixed in between the tears, laughter, and smiles, there was something special in the air.
And no, it wasn’t the smell of deep dish from Giordano’s.
It was dreams.
My Windy City weekend started off with a Saturday morning event expo inside of McCormick Place, right across the park from the ever-famous Soldier Field. As people began filtering in sharply at the 10am start time through glass double doors and across the main stage into the hall, positive energy poured in with them.
After listening to inspirational speeches from contestants like Big Vinny Mack, Bobby Saleem, and other weight loss success stories, I filmed a pushup contest for the audience between the 65-year-old former contestant, Jerry Hayes, and a trainer from BL Ranch.
Dude’s still got it!
In this type of environment, you can’t help but feel the energy buzz; it makes you wanna drop down and give someone 20.
What’s truly captivating and special about an event like this is the morality and passion behind it. Sure there are tens of thousands of races in the U.S., but what separates one 5k from another is the mission behind it. I had the honor of working alongside the guys and gals from the entire Biggest Loser crew, and what shined through most about them was their commitment to giving the best possible experience to the men, women, and kids that run these races year round.
The Evans family does more than just empower tens of thousands in sport – they also run a national non-profit organization, Kids Fit Foundation, created to serve communities with the charitable mission to fund and provide fitness programs for at-risk youth and their families. They are dedicated to raising funds and awareness for quality youth programs that incorporate health, fitness and wellness.
The power of health & fitness is paramount to the transformations that some of the Biggest Loser staff have been through themselves. Dan Evans, one of the celebrities behind the race, was quoted about hisBiggest Loser Experience -“I am pursuing my lifelong dream,” Dan said. “My weight was the barrier between me and my dream of music. The weight is gone and the pursuit of my dream is on.”
From a sky view on race day, and especially at the finish line, it was clear that most of the runners wore their hearts on their sleeves. With each new number that crossed the timing mats, you could read the expression of joy on every face. Whether letting go of extra weight, past failures, or just starting on their fitness journey, these people ran for the hope for a healthier tomorrow.
Hope is electrifying to us all.
Out of the 62+ million runners in the country during 2014, I’d put my all my chips on a bet that everyone starts a race with the intention of crossing their own unique version of a finish line. We all start running for different reasons, but what truly touches our hearts most about a race is the hope of it being better than the last.
Events like these are what make the endurance industry reach new levels of service to humanity. I left Chicago feeling a personal call to action that I hope you’ll share: How can we help and inspire each other to be healthier?
We can start with ourselves.
See you at the finish line!
Wherever and whatever that means to you.
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Josh Trent NASM CES, CHEK HLC 1
About the author: Josh Trent, NASM-CES, CPT, HLC, is a corrective exercise specialist and participatory sports technology expert with over 9 years in the fitness industry. His passion is to accelerate wellness evolution through the power of the Digital Health and Quantified Self movements. You can follow him on Twitter @wellnessforce, or through his website www.wellnessforce.com.