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Most of us are looking at another month or more of “Stay At Home”–I’m in through July 6, at a minimum–and races throughout Oregon and SW Washington (and the rest of Washington, for that matter) are cancelled. California races are cancelled. Pretty much all the races are cancelled. That’s okay because running is NOT cancelled, camaraderie among runners is NOT cancelled, and swag and bragging rights are NOT cancelled. If you’ve never connected to the running community on social media, now is the perfect time to join a virtual challenge. Motivate to run/walk/wog/whatever those miles by connecting with a challenge or a virtual run club. Unlike a virtual race (which happens once, you probably do it by yourself, and maybe you forget?) a challenge or a virtual rub club is ongoing support and a reminder to get off the couch!

The Original Edition

Run the Year 2020 medal

Run The Year. “Virtual” since the start! You can choose to literally “run the year” (2020 miles or kilometers), alone or as part of a team, or you can choose your own goal. For the Basic fee of $25, you get access to an easy-to-use mileage tracker (it lets you separate out walking and running and “other” miles), a private facebook group (plus a regional facebook group–once the virus ends, we can meet new runners at local meetups!), and a mileage guide. Upgrade to the Deluxe package for $39 to score a medal, legacy coin, and mileage tracking poster (it’s color-by-number-of-miles!). If you want to Get It All, spend $59 for all that and a bag of chips I mean a sublimated Run the Year tech shirt. See all of your options at https://shop.runtheedge.com/pages/run-the-year-2020 and don’t forget to join the Uncanceled Project (it’s free!)–your race on your day–to get those sweet custom photo bibs I know you’ve seen on Insta.

I’ve been a member of Run The Year since it started. My favorite aspect of this group is that ALL runners are welcome. This isn’t a club about being speedy–though there are speedy members. There are walkers, too. There are people brand new to any kind of exercise, and people who regularly take home trophies. It’s an encouraging space. Last year I volunteered to lead the Portland-area Facebook group, and I met some great people. Plus I’m apparently still a child and I love coloring in my poster.

The Ridiculous Edition

This is the photograph from the GVRAT 1000k Facebook group. Yes, those appear to be buzzards looking for roadkill.

The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k. If you’re really into running, like to the point where you read about other people running, look up stuff online about running, or like to hear “war stories” from really crazy serious runners, you’ve probably heard of the Barkley Marathons, aka “the race that eats its young” according to the documentary subtitle. (Trailer on YouTube, film on a variety of platforms.) Despite the fact that few people enter and almost no one finishes, making it almost automatic social distancing, the race is off this year. So race director Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell came up with something else: The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. It’s a mere $60 and you have from May 1 to August 31 to run 1000k BUT the miles only count if you cover them AFTER you sign up (and that’s run, walk, treadmill miles) https://runsignup.com/Race/TN/Memphis/TheGreatVirtualRaceAcrossTennessee1000K

Now why on earth would I, a banana slug of a “runner,” who hasn’t done 50 miles to date this year, sign up for #GVRAT1000? I think back to my earlier running days, when I lived in California, and some of my friends were telling me about The Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World: run a half marathon Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. My reaction? “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of!” So when The Dopey Challenge premiered a few years later, I signed right up. Maybe this time I hope to learn some geography? Call it the Go Big Or Go Home principle, if you will, but there’s some magic in publicly declaring that you are going to do an insane thing. Also, it’s find of fun to do the impossible. Take it from Bib #14066. 18,000+ runners in 68 countries can’t be wrong!

P.S. if that’s not enough, perhaps your pooch can motivate you? There’s a separate division for doggos! The cost is half of the human registration (Laz says it is half as hard to run that far on four legs) and 100% of proceeds will go to animal shelters in Tennessee. So grab your pupper and go!

The Local (As I Define It) Edition

At the outset of this section, if you have the resources to support your local running club, local running store, and local race directors, PLEASE DO IT. I know many of you have lost your jobs or lost some income that makes this impossible; to you, I say go forth and shamelessly apply for every running “scholarship” there is for your local runs: then get to doing it, talking about it, and wearing the local swag. I recently read an article about coffee that mused after all this is over, Starbucks might be the last roaster standing. (Blog post forthcoming.) PLEASE DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN TO RUNNING. While big, national “road show” type races are fun, local races give back more to your community. The money almost all stays close to home (to pay vendors, suppliers, and for security, etc.), and almost every race gives some amount of the entry fees to a local charity. A smaller local race can happen in a town that can’t support a marathon of 20,000 which means more runs in more places.

Marathon Matt’s SF Run Club is going virtual too.

SF Virtual Run Club. California is where I really started running, and Run Club was my first stab at running with people on a somewhat regular basis outside of races. Usually it’s an in-person thing, with a short run and a cross-training workout during the week, and a long run on the weekend, plus plenty of social time. Runners are often training for, or “targeting” the same SF Bay Area race. This year? We’re going the distance, at a distance. The virtual summer season starts May 16 but you can join late if you’d like. http://www.sanfranciscorunningclub.com/

Oregon Brewery Running Series May Virtual Challenge. What’s a local race director to do when all the breweries close and we’re under a Stay At Home order? Go Virtual! In addition to prizes for hitting certain targets, there are weekly Zoom happy hours (you run your miles, then it’s BYOB) with “door” prizes. I wrote about how much I love this series. You should join us. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oregon-may-virtual-challenge-tickets-102838915966?

The Do-Gooder Edition

Reigning Roses Walk. This annual event is the main fundraiser for Rose Haven, a women’s day center in Portland that receives no federal funding. Rose Haven provides services to women, children, and gender-nonconforming individuals to achieve self-sustainability, with dignity and respect. The programs include medical, access to showers, mail service, and classes. Reigning Roses was never a run. Instead it was a sort of parade, with participants carrying jaunty umbrellas and live music. While social distancing and anti-gathering rules currently in place make it unsafe to hold the event this year, and there is a virtual version, I’m betting participation will be down. That would suck, because Rose Haven does great work and it’s likely even more women will need help in the wake of COVID-19. https://www.makeitreign.org/event/reigning-roses-2020/e275129

The Environmentally Friendly Edition

It’s A Re-Run! No, not like on TV.

Griffith Park Virtual Re-Run. What happens to all those race shirts and medals when the race is over? I know some races will sell them next year as “vintage.” The Race for Warmth uses the shirts for people who late register the next year (so if your size is unavailable, you get last year’s shirt). The people that direct the Griffith Park Run had a better idea: let’s make a new race to use them up! You sign up for 6k, 8k, or 12k and run by May 24th. You get a random shirt, medal, and bib from a prior run, a Gu product, and a Re-Run sticker. $5 of your entry fee goes to the L.A. Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund, organized by The Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles. At only $22.50 (which includes your swag mailed to you), it’s a bargain that also does good (both by repurposing ace swag, and supporting the LA community). Register: https://runsignup.com/Race/CA/LosAngeles/GriffithParkVirtualReRun

One of my favorite California race companies!

Brazen Racing Retro Remote. I learned about this one right after I hit “go” on the original post. Brazen Racing is a much-loved trail race group in California; die-hards who run each of the 20+ events in a year become “Streakers” and receive official numbers at the end of the season. Brazen has pulled ONE medal from each of their prior events to make this happen. As the website explains, “Those participating will have the opportunity to choose which one of those medals they want to get mailed for their virtual race package. Every medal sent out as part of this event will be unique and the medals are available on a first-come/first-serve basis. If you want to know what each medal looks like, you’ll have to do some searching around as even we’re not sure where/if pictures exist for every single one! Or you can just pick an event medal from a certain year and be surprised.” Distances include 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, 30K and 50K (the normal Brazen distances) and you can run solo or with a team. “The goal is to at least start your run by May 16th, but there are no strict rules here. We’re just trying to celebrate the good times we’ve had and the good times to come!” https://brazenracing.com/retroremote/

The National Edition

Even though I’d strongly encourage you to run local and support your local race directors and charities first, I have to give a nod to the national series races which are also not happening.

Zooma Run Club. Zooma specializes in women’s destination races, and this is a women’s run club. Sorry gents! Set your own mileage goal for the year (250 to 2500) and get swagged when you bag it. Zooma will also have giveaways, in addition to a private Facebook group, a Strava club, and more. If you join now, you get inaugural member status (which makes it sound like this club is here to stay, even past the Stay At Home era). Price: free option, swag packages at $65 (before June 1) or $75 (after June 1). You have the option to add-on more swag (hats, jackets, etc.) and the summer challenge for an additional fee. What can I say? The hoodie was really cute… https://zoomarun.com/zooma-run-club?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Run Club. Price: free, though completing a challenge gives you the option to buy finisher swag, and there’s some sort of points system (no idea what the points are for yet). Personally I have given up on this one, as the recording platform that Rock ‘n’ Roll chose to use cannot connect to Strava, and they do not connect to Coros. NO STRAVA? What the what? True story. Sport Heroes, the platform Rock ‘n’ Roll chose to use, can only connect to the following apps: Garmin, Polar, Suunto, FitBit, Nike+, Runtastic, Map My Run, Runkeeper, Health Mate, Rouvy, Decathlon Coach, TomTom, and Movescout. The only one of these apps I use is FitBit. (I also use Strava, Coros, and Charity Miles. I do NOT need to use another app just so I can do a Rock ‘n’ Roll virtual.) While the FitBit app recognizes “activities,” and Sport Heroes can import all the data, the RnR VRC will only recognize an activity if you set your FitBit to “run” before you go run. Sadly, this is not stated anywhere in the RnR VRC materials, so I missed out on the first VR 5k–I signed up and ran 5k, but didn’t push the special button on the FitBit, so it did not count. BTW no explanation from Rock ‘n’ Roll even after I filled out the feedback form, mystified that I’d run 5k but RnR VRC showed zero miles–I had to find this out from a savvier friend! So for the second week I pushed the button to start and end a run. You might think this fixed the problem, but you’d be wrong. Turns out my FitBit and my Coros had slightly different data, so FitBit said I did 9.82k and not 10k. As a result, RnR did not recognize my finish (so no badge, etc.) though I did get 99 points (whatever that is?) for the week. The Sport Heroes explanation for why they don’t connect to Strava is lame, and frankly sounds like it was written by a whiny, overprivileged, teenager who is used to getting away with whatever they want. It also contradicts Strava’s statement, and I’ve got a solid, multi-year relationship with Strava, and trust them. Strava’s explanation is short and sweet: Sport Heroes aggregates Strava data with no transparency about it, in violation of Strava’s rules. So if YOU are interested in attempting a Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Run Club event, you can give it a whirl. I’m out.

The Sponsored Edition

Run 50 miles, score a free pack! Image from Honeystinger.com

Honey Stinger 50 Mile Challenge. This is a challenge you sign up for directly on the Strava app. (Why couldn’t Rock ‘n’ Roll just use Strava? So easy, free for everyone.) If you’re not familiar with Strava, it’s a great place to connect with other runners, and with running brands. Honey Stinger is one of the companies that encourages runners on Strava by hosting a run club, and sponsoring various challenges. Head to the Strava challenge page to sign up. Finish 50 miles in the month of May and score a badge for your Strava profile plus a pack of the brand new Honey Stinger Plus Chews. Fifty lucky participants will also score a race kit (though there are 189,000+ people signed up so it’s a bit like the lottery).

If you’re not familiar with Honey Stinger, OMG go check them out! My favorite products are the caramel waffles (they also have gluten-free options) and the caffeinated cherry cola chews. Pro tip: to avoid crushing your waffles, use medical tape to affix 1-2 waffles to the back of your race bib. (Medical tape is cheap, will hold the waffle in place flat, and is easy to rip off the bib without any damage.)

The UnderDog Edition

While you’re at it, join Team Ordinary.

The Ordinary Marathon. Scott Rieke, aka the Ordinary Marathoner, started this ten-day event three years ago. This year, it runs (pun!) from May 8 to May 17. Every year, runners from all over run their miles (maybe a marathon, maybe not!) during the course (pun!) of the race and connect on social media. The photos later become part of the #OrdinaryMarathon slide show video. There are daily prizes, too. Entry fees also support a charitable donation to help pets ind a “furever” home. This year the optional in-person 5k isn’t happening, but that’s not stopping the event. It’s an Ordinary Marathon because anyone can do 26.2 over the course of 10 days–even you! $30 to register, includes a medal and treats, shirt is optional extra. http://www.ordinarymarathon.com/

What are you running in May?

Know a great race that had to go virtual due to the virus? Got a run club that’s “meeting” online? Drop a link to the registration page with your comment!

A race that starts literally blocks from my apartment? Count me in!

This is the first year I ran the Rip City Race for the Roses, benefiting Albertina Kerr. If you are not from Portland, you might not be familiar with Albertina Kerr, which has been a force for good in Portland since 1907. In short, Albertina Kerr empowers people with intel​lectual and developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and other social barriers to lead self-determined lives and reach their full potential. 100% of the profits from Rip City Race for the Roses go to Albertina Kerr–everything is covered by sponsors.

I registered for the race pretty late, at the expo for the Shamrock Run Portland. (Yeah, I know, I haven’t written about that one yet…but the expo was great!) If you register early, like right now, you can get the very best price for 2019. I don’t remember what I paid, but I registered at the last pricing tier and while it was more than I usually pay for a 10k, I knew all of the money was going to Albertina Kerr so I didn’t really care. This year, the race included a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and kids’ race. Since I was supposed to run Revel Mt. Charleston on Saturday, I opted for the 10k race.

Foot Traffic on Fremont hosted the packet pickup, which was a breeze. Volunteers had printed lists of names and bib numbers. After picking up my bib and declining the matched set of four safety pins (yay, Racedots!), I walked inside the store to get my shirt, which came with a lunch-bag-sized reusable bag (courtesy of Charles Schwab). Runners could pick up on Friday or Saturday, and when I went on Saturday there was no lines and it was very chill. Foot Traffic offered 10% off any regular priced merchandise for runners, which was a great deal–they have several Portland-specific running designs in stock, in addition to the full range of shoes and clothes and accessories and fuel you would expect from a technical running store. I noticed Foot Traffic carries designs (and the book!) by Another Mother Runner and while I’m not a mother myself, I know plenty of mothers who love to run.

I have to say, the race shirt is fantastic. While it isn’t a tech shirt, I honestly have scores of those and only wear them when I’m planning to sweat. The super soft grey shirt features a red print that looks like a runner and a rose, without any words, text, or other logos on the front. (All of the race sponsors are on the back.) In other words, it doesn’t scream I AM A RACE SHIRT!!! like so many race shirts do. I’m certain I will be wearing it on a regular basis.

pink roses from the finish lineThis year, the start and finish were in the plaza between the Moda Center (home of the Portland Trailblazers, or the basketball arena formerly known as The Rose Garden, much to the confusion of many a tourist trying to look at fancy flowers) and the home of the Portland Winterhawks. This was a great location to start a running event, convenient to public transit (MAX has a dedicated stop, and multiple buses stop nearby). It’s also just over two blocks away from my apartment, essentially allowing me to bedroll to the race. Seriously, I saw the first race started at 7:50 and I didn’t even get out of bed until 7:00.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures, as my iPhone 6 has a battery that drains faster than a perfectly clear stand pipe and I knew I’d be running Vi (not an affiliate link, but check my discounts page!) and Rock My Run on it during the race. The start/finish area featured a cute Rip City photo op; DJ; stage; booths for packet pickup, kids’ bib decorating, and some of the sponsors; two coffee trucks; a shaved ice truck (or as we called it in Michigan, a sno cone truck); finisher food and drink zone; and more. There wasn’t a line to pick up bibs, and there was a bag check area as well. Shortly after I arrived, I ran into my friend Holly, and we chatted until she had to leave to go walk the half marathon.

All of the courses were an out-and-back, and shared the same start and finish. From the Rose Garden, I mean Moda Center, area…we all ran a bit on the NE streets and then over the Broadway Bridge. Turning onto Hoyt, all of the courses ran through the Pearl District–which has changed SO MUCH during the 2008-2017 time period I wasn’t in Portland–the Northwest, and the Northwest Industrial areas. At the 5k turnaround, the 10k and half continued onward, and at the 10k turnaround the half marathon continued. I suppose some could argue it wasn’t a spectacularly scenic course, but I personally loved running through the ever-evolving urban Portland landscape. Along the course, volunteers manned aid stations that served runners both coming and going, and multiple areas had cheering squads (including one where the young women cheering must have been cheerleaders or Rockettes, since nobody can kick that high).

An announcer greeted everyone crossing the finish line (or at least by the time I finished my run-walk, the finishers were sparse enough that we were all greeted), and the Royal Rosarians and Albertina Kerr clients handed out medals and high-fives. Each finisher also received a rose. I walked over to the finisher zone; greeted by two brand ambassadors for Red Bull I happily accepted a sugar-free Red Bull on my way to the ID check for the mimosas. The finisher food buffet included bananas, oranges, Clif Bar protein bars, bagels, bread, peanut butter, cream cheese, granola, and bottled water. There were a few other things too, but I didn’t eat them so they are slipping my mind.

As I was noshing on my post-race snacks and sipping my mimosas, I had the great fortune to sit next to one of the Albertina Kerr race organizers. (This is my secret super hero talent: accidentally finding the most interesting people at the party.) I learned that my evaluation of Portland as somewhat hostile to to races is correct; from one year to the next, the cost to host this race–again, a fundraiser where all the proceeds go to charity non-profit Albertina Kerr–went up by a factor of ten. I don’t mean it cost $10 more, or even $10,000 more, but it cost 10x what they had been paying to hold the race. For any race, that’s terrifying. They had to raise the entry fee a bit, and scramble for sponsors to cover the cost of the event–one of Albertina Kerr’s major fund raisers.

The post-race eats were pretty fantastic. In addition to the mimosas, orange juice, bagels, and peanut butter, there were a variety of other snackables. It was nice enough to stand or sit around outside (minus the mimosas, thanks OLCC), but the tent also had plenty of room for runners to sit down and take a load off after the race.

Next year’s Rip City Race for the Roses is April 28, 2019. Learn more, and sign up at the website.

Yesterday, the Portland Board of Marathon Directors announced that there will be no Portland Marathon in 2018. Further, the organization is dissolving, and all remaining funds will be donated to local charities. The 2500 runners who already registered for the 2018 event will receive full refunds.

I loved and adored this race.

The Portland Marathon was my first marathon. After moving to Oregon in 2001, I got involved in Volkssports, which in the United States largely consist of untimed 5k and 10k walks hosted by local clubs. Participants track the number of events they have completed in one booklet, and the number of kilometers in another. As soon as I learned there was a walking division for the 42k Portland Marathon, I started talking my friends into walking it with me. In the end, it was me, my friend Susan, and my Dad. During the marathon we called Mom every few miles to give her an update.

I loved that marathon, which gave the three of us a ton of things to laugh about later. At one point, Dad turned to Susan and asked how she was doing. Susan smiled and said, “I think I should have packed Advil, because I am in some MAJOR pain.” Later in the course we were greeted by a tiny grandmotherly women who caught up with us. She asked if it was our first marathon, and we chatted for a few minutes before she told us to enjoy ourselves, and “I’ve got to go now. Goodbye!” Still walking, she sped ahead of us and we saw the sign on her back: this is my 50th marathon, how ’bout you? Yes, we got looped by the friendly neighborhood powerwalking grandmother. After Susan drove us back to my apartment, Dad and I learned why you shouldn’t immediately sit down after a marathon–getting up was so hard!–and slowly climbed the stairs to my second story apartment. Then I dropped my keys. We both started to bend down to pick them up, and we both stopped. (If you’ve completed a marathon, you know why!)

The Portland Marathon was the first race expo I ever went to, in the basement ballrooms of the downtown Hilton. Now that I’ve been to hundreds of race expos, I realize it wasn’t even that large in terms of race expos, but it was very exciting. I remember seeing all of the vendors and their running stuff, the weigh-in for the Clydesdale and Athena divisions, and the barbell station for the “pump and run” competition. As a walker, this was all foreign to me. There were attachments to your bib to indicate you wanted to have your picture taken, and another to confirm we had paid the local AVA club so they could stamp our walking books.

The finish line was my first big race finish line, complete with big finish line goodies. After receiving the medal–a shiny wonder on a red, white, and blue ribbon that I cherish–we received FINISHER shirts. (My first race shirts. My first shirts from Leslie Jordan, the first big athletic apparel company founded by a woman–also a local company.) All runners received a rose, a tree seedling, and other gifts, in addition to the gigantic buffet of post-race food: bananas, snacks, water, gatorade, slices of bread…I was hungry but couldn’t contemplate eating the dizzying buffet that lined the post-chute area.

I loved the Portland Marathon so much I did it three more times, and talked other friends into joining me. One year I even made it to the after party. (The first year, after Dad and I showered, we slept for many hours. Too tired to deal with anything, we ordered a pizza for dinner.)

I loved the iconic course, which showed off the entire city. (Until the city ruined the course last year, more on that later.) Runners went through downtown, the gates to Chinatown, under the Steel Bridge, over the St. John’s Bridge, and covered parts of each quarter of the city. The course went through a variety of neighborhoods, where residents threw marathon parties with signs, and kids got out sidewalk chalk and pom-poms and acted like cheerleaders. It have views of the Cascades, Swan Island, and the city’s skyline. The course literally was the finisher shirt design for many years, which I also loved (though some people were annoyed that the design was the same from year to year).

I loved how much of the city got involved in the marathon. There was entertainment at literally every mile (and you thought the Rock ‘n’ Roll series invented that idea? Nope!). I remember belly dancers, classical musicians, a Christian rock band. The course was staffed by volunteers from all sorts of groups; I first got involved in the marathon as a volunteer with the Penn State Club, as the Big Ten Clubs of Portland manned a water stop and several course monitor/directions posts.

I loved how much the marathon gave back. For years the Portland Marathon hosted “marathon school,” to teach other race directors how to put on a world-class event. The Portland Marathon was a world-class event. People came from all over the world to run it. Runners World consistently listed it as a destination race and a bucket list race. The marathon gave money to local charities, too.

For years after I started running, any time someone asked for a race recommendation, the Portland Marathon was at the top of my list. When I moved back to Portland in 2017, I was excited about the possibility of running the 50th annual Portland Marathon. I wasn’t the only one in love with this event, which The Bleacher Report called an “exceptional all-around event.”

A few bad apples spoil the cider.

Unfortunately, underneath this all a gigantic mess was brewing.

First, former Portland Marathon director, Les Smith, had embezzled a boatload of funds from the non-profit marathon. (Source for this fact and others in this paragraph. I should point out he ended up working out a deal and so wasn’t convicted of any crime and did not admit any guilt–but you don’t agree to pay back $845,000 that you didn’t take in the first place. Fortunately he’s banned from serving on non-profits, planning races, and practicing law as part of the agreement.) Like hundreds of thousands of dollars. So much that the Oregon Department of Justice was involved. In addition, there was a questionable relationship between the non-profit Portland Marathon and a for-profit company called Next Events that Smith partially owned. That investigation isn’t quite over. It’s pretty understandable that once this news broke, runners were uneasy about signing up to run the Portland Marath0n.

Second, that iconic course? It died an ugly death. The final year for the fast, flat (other than the lead-ups to the bridges) course was 2016. The first thing every announcement cites is “declining registration.” I am positive the destruction of the beautiful course directly resulted in a decline in registrations. The 2016 race also hit a snafu when the safety plan didn’t get approved by the Portland Fire Bureau, which seems kind of unthinkable since the race had a 40+ year history and surely the organization knew what it would take to file a proper plan, and on race day had not circulated the approved plan to the race officials and volunteers–the course was almost shut down. The race also directed runners to run extra mileage.

(That op-ed piece from The Oregonian–Portland’s newspaper–also documents other problems, including handing the first place trophy to the third place winner. In the end, Oregonian staff called for Portland to find another organization to organize the 2017 Portland Marathon.)

Sometime between when I moved to California in 2008 and 2o17, Portland became very antagonistic to races. I had barely started to run a 5k here and there by the time I left, but at that point all of the races I did were downtown, with a start and finish convenient to local brunches. When I moved back, I was shocked to learn that many of those courses, such as Pints to Pasta, had not only moved out of downtown, but had moved to other cities! This is baffling to me, as many runners meet up with friends after events for drinks or brunch (or both), and I definitely did some shopping after some of those races.

After the 2016 race, the city of Portland forced the course change, supposedly on the grounds that there were not enough Portland police officers to take care of the epic, historic course of the Portland Marathon. (When Runners World is publishing the scoop to the entire running world, that has to hurt registration too.) I’m not privvy to the internal discussions on that, but I have definitely been to races that used trained volunteers and police from other jurisdictions where the host city couldn’t supply the number of police the city required. The 2017 almost didn’t happen because the marathon organization ignored the requirement for a new course (and I’m guessing did not submit any alternative proposals for police coverage). Just a month out from the marathon, the event did not have a permit. According to that Runners World article, the marathon also still owed a police bill from the 2016 race!

In the end, the 2017 was pretty awful-looking, and I was glad I had not signed up to run. Instead of the gorgeous loop that showed off the best of the city, the course was largely an out-and-back along main roads and the freeway. Yuck. If I had been registered, I would have been pissed, despite the then-director’s attempt to spin the course as flatter and faster and even more BQ-friendly. Big ol’ bowl of NOPE there.

The 2017 race almost did not happen–surely another cause for declining registrations for 2018. For those who didn’t read about it in Runners World (the article is linked above), the city officials and race officials had a terrible working relationship after the 2016 event–no surprise even given the little I know–and by June 2017 the Oregon Department of Justice was investigating Smith. (That’s actually what kept me from registering in the first place.)

The Portland Marathon’s official statement regarding the cancellation of the marathon and dissolution of the organization is here. I find it is less than transparent, and downright dishonest in some aspects. Can you blame the city for wanting to “move in another direction” after the serious problems in 2016 and the discovery that the former race director embezzled nearly a million dollars from what was supposed to be a charitable group–one that was the face of Portland to thousands world wide? How is it that the Board of Directors failed to notice that the organization was breaking the law? (Smith and his partner, Mamie Wheeler, were the only two officers of both the non-profit Portland Marathon and their for-profit Next Events–creating a massive conflict of interest–in violation of Oregon law. Since Smith had been race director for 30 years and was also an attorney, he definitely knew better.)

In the face of what amounts to a dumpster fire, I believe the Portland Marathon organization had no choice but to dissolve. It abused the trust (and time and work) of runners and volunteers alike. The city had openly solicited proposals for another group to produce the event. After a rest, I’m hoping the city finds another race director who has the experience and integrity to give Portland the marathon it so richly deserves.

SAVE YOUR MONEY, SAVE YOUR MIND!

First there was Black Friday, allegedly named because it is the first day of the Christmas shopping season and when retailers’ books go from red to black. (This was eventually ruined by the appearance of Christmas stuff on store shelves in September.) Then there was Cyber Monday, when Amazon and all the other .coms of the world offer deals to relieve you of whatever money you didn’t spent on Black Friday. As Wal-mart began to displace the beloved “mom and pop” stores that were on mainstreets in towns across America, and people realized where you spend money has a direct impact on what your world looks like, the “Shop Small” and “Shop Local” movements brought us  Small Business Saturday. Sure, I appreciate the season-of-buying as well as the sales, but a ton of this spending is mindless.

Then came #GivingTuesday. I personally have plenty. I’m thankful. I’m spending some of my time going through all the things I moved and parting with the things that could help someone else, but are not really serving me. (I did a lot of this before I moved too–I even gave away a big carton of books!) With the advent of Kondo-izing and Swedish death cleaning, I hope you and your family have all of the stuff you actually need and maybe you are even living with an eye towards not acquiring more stuff you don’t. Sure, things wear out and need to be replaced, and new gadgets come out that are critical (or at least useful). It’s not like clothes now last forever or shopping is over. But let’s be thankful. For me, part of being thankful is giving back to others who are not so fortunate. I’m really lucky to work in an office that supports all kinds of community involvement. I’ve barely been here half a year, and we have fundraised for a Race for the Cure team, donated hundreds of new or gently-used coats and warm clothing to homeless teen services in Seattle, given to Hoop Camp for the developmentally disabled, contributed to Lawyers Against Hunger, supported the Campaign for Equal Justice, and more.

NOTE! IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP! Before you give, make sure the organization is what it says it is, and that it will use your money responsibly. Check out Charity Navigator, or GuideStar for more information.

If you have what you truly need, I invite you to consider giving money to an organization that is helping to make your world a better place. Last year I solicited suggestions from my friends. This year, here are my own top choices.

Encourage your friends to give this #GivingTuesdayClick To Tweet

SAVE THE NATION!

I couldn’t decide on the best way to organize my favorites so these are in no particular order (not alphabetical, not by how much I value the work they do, just randomly there).

Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s not just about the south. Their slogan is “Fighting Hate. Teaching Tolerance. Seeking Justice.” The SPLC documents hate crimes, provides legal services, develops educational materials for children and adults, and monitors news outlets for stories about discrimination based on race, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, and economic status. SPLC News This Week is a weekly email covering these topics. On Giving Tuesday, a generous donor has pledged to match the first $300,000 of donations, through midnight. For a limited time, donors who give $50 or more can send a special card about SPLC’s work to an honoree. If you select this option, may I suggest sending the card to a government official? http://www.splcenter.org

Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF works to protect the rights of everyone on the electronic frontier through technology, activism, and legal action (also called “impact litigation”). Some of EFF’s projects this year including suing the Department of Homeland Security to challenge the escalation of warrantless device searches at the U.S. Border, fighting NSA surveillance programs and forcing disclosure of signficant documentation about mass spying (ON US, the US CITIZENS!), blocking invasive web trackers through the Privacy Badger browser extension, addressing the growing power social media companies have on speech through the OnlineCensorship.org website, and so much more. (Why yes, I did just crib that from the email asking me to renew my membership!) Like NPR, you can choose a free gift at some levels of membership, and members received discounts on EFF events and merchandise. EFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.eff.org

College/University/School. Pick one. The cost of higher education–and that includes trade schools–has gone through the roof. There’s no reason why only rich kids should get to have a post-high-school education. The pre-K to grade 12 schools aren’t exactly well-funded either. Create a scholarship, donate to a department, sponsor a club, or find some other way to help keep education accessible to all who desire it.

ACT LOCALLY!

For every group I know about and have listed below, I am certain there is a similar group where you live. National charities are great, and sometimes being national in scope is the best way and most efficient way to accomplish goals. (We don’t need every city to have an EFF, for example.) Other times, smaller organizations can accomplish tasks more efficiently than larger ones, or a local organization can better serve the population where it operates.

The Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice. CEJ funds Legal Aid, which provides civil legal services to low-income and elderly Oregonians. Legal Aid tends to the basics and can be the difference between life and death, or safety and homelessness. CEJ funds help people fight illegal evictions, secure safe housing, get access to medical services, and escape domestic violence. You can read some of the success stories on the CEJ website. (Regardless of what you think of lawyers, those who work for Legal Aid do some of the most difficult work for some of the lowest pay. Without CEJ, Oregon’s Legal Aid program wouldn’t exist.) Poverty in Oregon is on the rise, and the demand for legal services is too.  http://www.cej-oregon.org/

East Bay SPCA. Yes, I now live in Oregon, but East Bay SPCA is the group that united me with my current kitty-love, Professor Nick Sterling. The Professor started his life in another shelter, where he was adopted. At some point things went sour, however, and eight years later he was rescued from a hoarding situation and returned to that same shelter. After languishing there several months, the East Bay SPCA identified him as a cat they might have a better chance of re-homing and took him in to their Oakland shelter. Poor kittyboy was there for months before we found each other. In 2016 (when Nick and I got together), East Bay SPCA adopted out 3,417 animals and fostered another 938. He had been there so long that he was free (his adoption fee was waived) but I donated since the cost of caring for an animal before it is adopted always exceeds the adoption fee. East Bay SPCA has multiple programs to help people keep their pets, including help finding pet-friendly housing, behavior resources, a pet food pantry, free wellness clinics and medical care assistance programs for those who need financial help, and a pet survivor placement program (to help fluffy find a home if you die first). They even have a special Second Chance Fund to help older animals find new homes. East Bay SPCA is a nonprofit funded by fees and charitable donations. http://www.eastbayspca.org 

Oregon Food Bank. Even in relatively prosperous-looking areas, food insecurity runs rampant. It’s not just rural Oregon that needs the food bank pantry shelves stocked–it’s Portland, too. You can read more about how hunger devastates children here. Delta Air Lines will match any gift of $25 or more, up to a maximum of $15,000. https://www.oregonfoodbank.org/

With Love,. Their mission statement: “With Love, exists to support foster families by providing safe, clean and quality clothing and supplies to children ages 0-5, while exuding love and honor.” Foster care for young kids is expensive–they outgrow clothes quickly and need developmentally appropriate toys–and it generally isn’t the rich people who take in foster kids. This year I’m participating in “Stockings With Love,” a stocking stuffer program for kids in foster care. All I have to do is buy 8-10+ items for either the 0-24 months group or the ages 2-6 group, put them in a bag, and label them with the appropriate gender and age. With Love, asked that donors NOT choose candy or food, and provided a list of suggestions. You can lazy-web it by going to http://www.withloveoregon.org/amazon to buy suggested items and have them sent right to the organization. Learn more at http://www.withloveoregon.org

SAVE THE WORLD!

Pencils of Promise. Education is something we take for granted in the United States, where state and federal laws protect every child’s right to an education. For $75, you can fund a kid’s education for the entire year. PoP promises that 100% of your online donation will directly support their education programs. (Read: NONE of your donation will pay for the costs of fundraising, administration, etc.) Donations build schools, train and support teachers, and keep kids in school supplies. PoP also has a handwashing initiative, WASH, which teaches kids about water, sanitation, and hygiene. You would be absolutely shocked at the amount of death and disease that could be prevented by a bar of soap and knowing how to use it (and equally shocked at how few of us have the luxury of soap-on-demand with clean water).  https://pencilsofpromise.org/

Gazelle Foundation. Access to clean, healthy, safe water should be a human right–but it’s not. In Burundi, people can spend four or more hours every day just to get clean water. This is a huge waste of potential for children (who should be in school), and for adults (who should be with their families). The Gazelle Foundation has nine water projects scheduled in Burundi for 2018, each of which will change the lives of people by reducing the 3+ mile trek now required to get water to 250-400 meters. That’s huge. Why Burundi? Burundi has a very high child mortality rate, largely due to lack of water. Waterborne contaminants are the leading cause of death in Burundi. To date, Gazelle Foundation has provided 80,660 people clean water FOR LIFE. That includes 24 schools, churches, and hospitals, 126 miles of clean water pipe, and the creation of 4,200 new jobs in Burundi.  https://www.gazellefoundation.org/

Back on My Feet. Homelessness isn’t an intrinsic part of anyone’s identity–it’s a condition some people experience, many through no fault of their own. BoMF combats homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential housing and employment resources. It operates in 12 major cities. As runners know, running builds confidence, strength (including mental!), and self-esteem. These are all qualities you need to succeed, and come back from a major blow to your self-worth and identity. Changing the way we think about and address homelessness is revolutionary–which is why I put this in the Save the World category. On Giving Tuesday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching all donations. https://www.backonmyfeet.org/

Finally…SHARE?

There are a million ways you can help others with just a few dollars. If you have other charities you support, please leave a comment and share that information with others?

If you found this useful, would you please share it?

Welcome to #GivingTuesday 2016!

Know Where Your Money Goes

The most important advice I have to give is this: know where your money goes. The best charities minimize their administrative and overhead costs, while maximizing the amount of your dollar that goes to programs and services. (Yes, I understand that making change happen requires paying rent on offices, and I agree that those working for the greater good deserve a decent paycheck.) The best charities are financially transparent, and will show you where the money came from and where it goes—look for financial reports or summaries on the website—so you know you’re not funding the CEO’s Masarti. Basically, don’t get scammed. A few resources for vetting charities are:

http://www.CharityNavigator.org

http://www.CharityWatch.org

http://www.Give.org

How Do I Decide Where My Money Goes?

One way of deciding where to donate is to choose an area of concern or a cause, decide whether you want to give locally or nationally or globally, and then find a charity to match.

Animals: Animal welfare, rehabilitation, prevention of cruelty, low-cost spay and neuter services

The Arts: Music, dance, theatre, painting, writing, sculpting, museums, performances for kids, arts education

Children: Adoption, child welfare, education, medical treatment

Education: Where did you go to elementary school, high school, college? Local schools, special needs schools, scholarships

Environment: Preservation of wild places and species, pollution control, water protection

Food: Hunger, food insecurity, community gardens

Health: Public education, disease prevention, medical research, treatment

Health, specifically Mental Health: Public education, disease prevention, research, treatment, suicide prevention, counseling

Human Rights: Women’s issues, refugees, gender and equality

Veterans: Transition to civilian life, support for any arena in which a vet needs help

Suggestions from Bain & Her Ninja Posse

I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, asking where my friends are donating their money on #GivingTuesday The list below is every suggestion I received (as of midnight Sunday) plus my favorites.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). https://www.aclu.org/ I’m a big fan of the Constitution. HUGE. In fact, I believe that all U.S. citizens should be able to fully enjoy the rights granted by the Constitution without undue limitations. I dislike voter suppression and miss the Voting Rights Act (this is not a political commentary—I encourage ALL to vote, regardless of their politics). As the ACLU puts it, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” You can help them make it to 200.

Alley Cat Allies. http://www.alleycat.org Nominated by a friend, but you know how I feel about cats (love me, love my cat). ACA works with the animal control system, provides education to combat myths about cats, works to change outdated laws that kill cats, and combats cruelty to cats. They provide disaster support (did you know you can’t take your cat with you to a Red Cross shelter?), pass anti-animal cruelty laws, support a nationwide feral cat care network (including support for trap-neuter-return programs), provide cat-specific education and resources for vets, and do a host of other things. (There wasn’t an executive summary on their page—likely because they do so many different things in their advocacy for cats—but the website has a ton of information). As winter approaches, even if you don’t donate to Alley Cat Allies, please take some precautions to help outdoor cats: clean up antifreeze spills and avoid using salt to melt ice (both can poison cats); if you care for outdoor cats, provide a straw-lined shelter and put water in deeper bowls to prevent freezing.

Austin Pets Alive. http://www.austinpetsalive.org/ Nominated by a friend. (Mr. Potter came from Austin, but didn’t come from APA.) From their website: “[mission statement] To promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals. When Austin Pets Alive! started rescuing animals in 2008, Austin was somewhat rich in resources that prevented births. For almost ten years, more and more resources were put into spay and neuter programs, but the live outcome rate at our city shelter was stuck around 50%. Of course, the population of Austin was quickly growing, so it’s likely that the spay and neuter resources were helping our live outcome rate from getting worse. While several resources were going into prevention and reducing intake, there was no effort to increase live outcomes from the shelter. Austin Pets Alive! saw that gap and created programs to save the key demographics of pets that hadn’t been making it out of our municipal shelter alive. These key groups of animals included puppies with parvovirus, unweaned kittens, cats with ringworm, dogs and cats in need of additional behavioral support and/or additional medical attention. By developing comprehensive, innovative programs that targeted these key groups of animals and pulling directly from euthanasia lists, Austin Pets Alive! has saved more than 25,000 dogs and cats since 2008.”

Back on My Feet. http://www.backonmyfeet.org/ Last year I ran an event for the Los Angeles Chapter, and this year BOMF is expanding into San Francisco. As they describe it, “Back on My Feet, a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.” The BOMF model is unique in that it is based on running, and the strategy is to first restore confidence and self-esteem so that individuals are better equipped to take on employment, housing, and a new life. I particularly like that instead of talking about program members as “homeless people” (which sounds impersonal and like a permanent brand to me), BOMF refers to members as individuals experiencing homelessness—emphasizing that homelessness is a temporary situation, not a defining characteristic. They need volunteers (as do many of the groups on this page) as well as dollars.

Batworld. https://batworld.org/ I have personally been a fan of bats ever since I found out they eat mosquitos. The Batworld website is a great educational resource on why bats are valuable and what to do if you find one in your house. From the website, “Bat World Sanctuary is on the front line to end the mistreatment of bats. Each year we rescue hundreds of bats who might otherwise die. Lifetime sanctuary is given to non-releasable bats, including those that are orphaned, injured, and retired from the exotic pet trade, zoos and research facilities. Bat World was founded in 1994 and is a 501c3 non-profit, accredited organization with both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association. Donations allow us to continue our rescue efforts for bats.”

Breast Cancer Charities. There are multiple, state, local, nationwide, international. I’ve walked the 3 Day for the Cure supporting the Komen Foundation, and donated to the Faith Fancher  charity (California). The nominating friend is fundraising for the 26.2 with Donna; her link is here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2017-Marathon/cancersucks

California Pit Bull Rescue. http://www.californiapitbullrescue.org/ Nominated by a friend who fosters their dogs. My favorite pit bull is a tank of a dog named Rosie, who is very gentle, thinks she is a lap dog, and is beta-dog to the tiniest terrier I’ve ever seen be an alpha dog. From the website, “California Pit bull Rescue (CPR) is organized for the purpose of rescuing at risk “pit bull” type dogs and facilitating social change to abolish the abuse, over breeding and mis-education surrounding the breed. CPR will achieve these goals through a SF Bay Area fostering network, fundraising programs, educational initiatives and financial/physical support for needy guardians of pit bull type dogs. Established in August 2012, CPR is a 501(C)3 all-volunteer nonprofit rescue organization with headquarters in Richmond, CA. 100% of our proceeds go toward our mission goals including awareness initiatives and providing food, supplies, housing, training and medical care for the dogs we take into our rescue program. We strive to house our dogs in foster homes where they can decompress and learn how to be loved and secure family members. They remain under CPR’s wing until they find the most appropriate permanent guardian with whom they can happily and peacefully live out their lives.” Definitely check out their “surprising facts about pit bulls” page.

Center for Sex and Culture. http://www.sexandculture.org/about Nominated by a friend. From their website, “The Mission of the Center for Sex & Culture is to provide judgment-free education, cultural events, a library/media archive, and other resources to audiences across the sexual and gender spectrum; and to research and disseminate factual information, framing and informing issues of public policy and public health. The Center for Sex & Culture aims to provide a community center for education, advocacy, research, and support to the widest range of people. We offer classes that run the gamut from informational to experiential. We host classes and cultural events as well as offer our space to other organizations and teachers as scheduling allows. We serve a nationally (in fact, globally) significant function, adding to the few accessible resources for sex education available to the public, not just academics or specialists. We have acquired various collections of books, papers, art, erotic material, personal collections from notable people within the sex-positive community, and other media.”

City Slicker Farms. http://www.cityslickerfarms.org/ Nominated by a friend, this is right up my alley: food policy and boots-on-the-ground that provides food security. She wrote, “My money goes to local food-based organizations: the food bank, Richmond Mission, and my fave: City Slicker Farms. CSF grows veggies and West Oakland and sells them to neighbors on a sliding scale. They also negotiate with landlords, then build back yard gardens in the neighborhood and give new gardeners a mentor to teach them how to grow their own food.” I know there are other organizations that do similar things in other locations, so if you like the idea but want to give locally, search online.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium. http://www.seewinter.com/ Nominated by a friend. Their motto is rescue, rehab, release. From the website: “We believe in preserving our environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life, environmental education, research and conservation. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.” They provide education to humans, and have webcams too!

Crisis Nursery Kids. http://crisisnurserykids.org/ Suggested by a friend; from the website: “The SAINT LOUIS CRISIS NURSERY (SLCN) is an independent, not-for-profit agency funded by donations and committed to preventing child abuse and neglect by providing short-term, emergency shelter for children, birth through age 12, whose families are faced with emergencies or who are in crisis. Founded in 1986, the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery has become a cornerstone in the fight against child abuse and neglect. In addition to the direct care of the children, the Crisis Nursery gives ongoing support and follow-up care to families and serves as a child/family advocate within the social services system. Families may voluntarily bring their children to any of the Nursery sites for a variety of reasons, including: Overwhelming parental stress, Parental or sibling illness or death, Lack of utilities, food or shelter, Domestic violence, Other emergency situations which jeopardize the safety and well-being of the child and necessitate temporary parent-child separation. The average stay of a child is two to three days. During his or her stay at the Crisis Nursery, each child receives 24-hour care by trained staff, medical services, meals and snacks, developmental assessment, therapeutic activities appropriate to the child’s situation, art activities.”

Donors Choose. https://www.donorschoose.org/ Mom was a teacher, so I really love this one. Crowdfunding can build stuff, and that includes better education for children. Donors Choose has a unique model where teachers write proposals for specific projects, and donors choose the project(s) where they want their money to go. My favorite option is to choose the high priority projects in schools that have the highest poverty, but you can also choose by location or by subject. If you’ve ever known a teacher—especially one in public education—you know that teachers often spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to buy classroom supplies, even though they aren’t making a lot of money themselves. This is a way that anyone can help, even if you don’t have a kid. Most of these projects just need a few hundred dollars, and each of them can change a kid’s school experience.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. http://www.eff.org I have a deep love for the EFF that dates back to the days when you found something on the internet by typing in a word or company name and adding “.com” to the end in the hopes that you’d find what you wanted. EFF is defending your rights in the digital world. As the internet of things grows, that digital world is even bigger. As EFF explains, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.” The EFF website is also an excellent resource for anyone concerned about privacy, government access to personal information, electronic record-keeping, and commercialization of your data.

The Elephant Sanctuary. https://www.elephants.com/ Nominated by a friend, this non-profit runs a Tennessee sanctuary that provides long-term care for elephants. From the website, “The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee exists to provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being, and to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants in captivity, and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.” Elephants are intelligent creatures with complex needs. The Sanctuary itself is a true sanctuary, and is closed to the public. There are elephant cams though, so you can sneak a peek.

The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County. http://epilepsysandiego.org.s163008.gridserver.com/ Nominated by a friend, who is fundraising and seeking donations in the name of Serena’s Crusaders. https://www.facebook.com/Serenascrusaders From their website, “The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving the San Diego community since 1954, offering personal advocacy and counseling, seizure first aid training, Expressive Arts therapy, camp and a variety of supportive services. All these services are free and are available to anyone whose life is touched by epilepsy, regardless of the severity of the disability and without regard to race, creed, age, sex or nationality.”

Fix our Ferals. http://fixourferals.org/home/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Fix Our Ferals (FOF) is a community-based, non-profit organization that promotes trap-neuter-return (TNR) to humanely reduce the cat population in the San Francisco East Bay. During our first eleven years from our founding in 1998 until 2011, FOF held 101 ‘mash-style’ clinics at borrowed facilities. Then in July 2012, to meet overwhelming demand for low-cost spay-neuter, FOF opened our own clinic facility, the Fix Our Ferals Spay-Neuter Center. Our mission is to help both people and cats in the San Francisco East Bay by: (1) Advocating TNR as the only humane and effective method of population control, to replace the cruel and failed practice of trap-and-kill; (2) Providing affordable sterilizations to community members and rescue organizations; (3) Educating community members, leaders, and decision-makers about TNR, in order to empower neighborhoods to control and monitor their own free-roaming neighborhood cats.

Food Banks. Everywhere. Hunger exists, right here at home, probably right in your backyard. Ordinary looking people you walk past every day can be struggling to put enough food on the table and still look like everything is fine—and that’s in part because food insecurity is embarrassing to many people. Poverty is only one of the factors associated with hunger; food insecurity increases when the economy isn’t doing well, when unemployment goes up, and when housing prices escalate. According to Feeding America, in 2015 there were 42.2 million Americans living in food insecure households. Find your local food bank and donate cash, which they can spend very efficiently. You can even be lazy on this one, as your local grocery story probably has a donation barrel or a pre-packed suggested donation bag this time of year. Hunger knows no season. Think about this every time you buy food. What would happen if we each donated one canned item for every grocery trip?

Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services. http://friendsofbacs.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services raises much-needed funds to support programs and services that help provide a safe and happy environment for animals waiting for their forever homes at Berkeley’s municipal shelter.” The majority of municipal animal shelters are underfunded and tasked with doing much more than is actually possible on their meagre budgets. Many are subject to state and local laws, but not required to report or provide specific services. There’s probably one near you that could use your help!

Friends of the Oakland Animal Services. http://www.oaklandanimalservices.org/how-to-help/donate/friends-of-oakland-animal-services/ Nominated by a friend. From the website, “Friends of Oakland Animal Services (FOAS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for shelter animals. Founded by Oakland Animal Services volunteers in December 2005, FOAS was created to support the municipal shelter’s efforts to better care for thousands of animals each year in the face of Oakland’s ongoing budgetary challenges. Our mission is to provide homes, health, and happiness for Oakland’s homeless animals. Some of our main funding areas include: Emergency and specialized medical care
Equipment needed to help veterinary staff better care for shelter animals on-site; Adoption outreach and foster program support; The creation of indoor/outdoor play areas and better animal housing, including general supplies and repairs; Transportation of animals to both local and out-of-state partner rescue groups; Tools to help with Oakland field services, including digital cameras for staff to document cruelty cases and laser thermometers to determine the temperature inside parked cars; Materials, training, and other supplies for the volunteer program that is integral to the quality of life for shelter animals.”

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. http://www.girlscouts.org/ As a Life Member and Gold Award recipient, this one is a no-brainer for my list. There are even programs for girls and their imprisoned mothers that From a friend who nominated them: “Girl Scouts of the USA have always been on my giving list. It’s not only the first organization that facilitated leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities for me, as a child. I know how dollars are stretched to serve the greatest number of girls (as a former Council staff member), and how GSUSA’S commitment to pluralism, from the organization’s inception has been at the forefront of ‘leveling the playing field’ for girls (marginalized, or not). Plus, it’s FUN! (And often overlooked).” You can give to the national organization, or find your local Girl Scout Council (which likely maintains camping facilities in addition to providing programs for girls).

Girls on the Run. https://www.girlsontherun.org/ Suggested by a friend who is also a runner, though this is a group I’m familiar with too; their running programs are free to participants, and are about WAY more than just running. Here’s a snippet from their website: “One girl put it this way, ‘I learned that I am the boss of my brain.’ Girls on the Run inspires girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. It’s a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable.” There are local councils all over the country, you can find yours on the website or donate to the national organization. They also need volunteers to train to present the curriculum, and to help support their runs.

Give Kids the World Village. http://www.gktw.org/ Nominated by a friend who wrote, “one of the highest rated charities in the world. They work with organizations like Make a Wish to provide a place for kids with diseases and their families to stay while visiting Orlando.” According to the website, “Give Kids The World Village is a 79-acre, nonprofit ‘storybook’ resort in Central Florida. Here, children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.”

Global Fund For Widows. http://globalfundforwidows.org Nominated by a friend. This organization focuses on widows because in the developing world, losing a husband can be devastating to a woman and to her children. Widow often lack favorable inheritance rights (in other words, the husband’s family might get all of the goods and money that used to support the family), lack a social and governmental support system, lack childcare options, and lack marketable skills and education. “The Global Fund for Widows assists its widows by creating employment opportunities where no other opportunity exists. The Global Fund for Widows seeks to align a widow’s skills, abilities, interests and financial needs, with employment options created by the program or through partnerships with other organizations and employers. With financial stability, widows are inspired to become self-reliant and self-accountable. And, in this way, they are able to extricate themselves from poverty.”

Heifer International. https://www.heifer.org/ Nominated by two friends, one of whom wrote, “I favor https://www.heifer.org (Heifer International) which donates living animals and plants, teaches husbandry, and requires gift recipients to pass the gift on to others in their community.” Yes, I am personally a vegetarian, but I don’t live in poverty either. Many of Heifer’s gifts allow women to start small businesses and become financially independent. Heifer supports sustainable agriculture, plants trees, and helps end hunger

Ian Clemens Foundation. http://ianclemensfoundation.org/ Nominated by my Dad’s lovely wife. Ian Clemens was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer at age 17 and died just a month after he was diagnosed. His family and friends have chosen to honor his memory by providing scholarships for engineering students who graduated from Livonia (MI) high schools, because that’s where Ian graduated, and he wanted to be an engineer. The foundation also helps families with children battling cancer by helping children’s cancer center emergency funds (available to help families with travel, lodging, loss of income, and medical expenses), and raises awareness of organ and tissue donation (because at age 17, Ian had chosen to become a donor prior to his death).

Immaculate Heart Radio. https://ihradio.com/ I’m super not-Catholic, as you know. A friend wrote that this cause is “near and dear to her heart,” however, and she supports their work. According to their website, “Immaculate Heart Radio is a non-profit lay apostolate that operates a growing network of Catholic radio stations in the West. We are dedicated to sharing the heart of the Christian faith and changing lives through radio airwaves.” IHR is an educational charity. There are a variety of religious and faith-based organizations doing all sorts of things in the world, so if this one isn’t for you, there is likely another one that is.

International Rescue Committee. https://www.rescue.org/ Nominated by a friend working with IRC to help Syrian refugee families start their new lives in Sacramento. From their website, “The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and regain control of their future.” They focus on health, education (especially for girls and women, who may not even know what their rights are), and other essentials. They do three main things: (1) Ensure that people in crisis areas have what they need to survive—including food, water, shelter and basic household items—without falling into debt or resorting to desperate measures. (2) Ensure that people resettled in the United States have what they need to rebuild their lives and grow their assets. (3) Ensure that people can become self-sufficient by engaging in safe and decent work and by managing and saving their resources.

JDRF. http://www.jdrf.org/ Nominated by a friend. Type 1 diabetes used to be called “childhood diabetes” because it is a disease you are born with and have to live with for life, though it can also be diagnosed and develop later in life. In Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, the pancreas stops making insulin. JDRF funds research for treatment and eventually a cure for Type 1 diabetes. (Did you know there are different treatments for Type 1 than there are for Type 2?) JDRF research includes artificial pancreas, beta cell replacement, glucose control, prevention, and restoration. JDRF also provides support, information, education, and community for individuals and families affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Karam Foundation. http://www.karamfoundation.org/ Per my friend, “recommended by my friend who has lots of connections in Syria.” #Dares4Syria campaign this #GivingTuesday. This charity is focused on helping the children of Syria, both those that stay in Syria and those who leave. Inside Syria, Karam provides emergency support for schools inside Syria. Outside Syria, the focus is on refugee children: “Karam Foundation is providing long-term support in the form of smart aid for Syrian refugee families in need. We strive not to just place aid-bandaids but instead develop sustainable, future-building tools that: Stabilize families, educate children, prevent child labor, discourage early teen marriages, and keep refugees in host countries close to Syria.”

Libraries. Everywhere. You want to talk underfunded community resources? In many parts of the country, you just have to look at the library—if your town still has a library. The Dunning-Hough Library was my very favorite place in Plymouth, MI and I remember when it was housed almost entirely in a single room. (I’m thrilled to see where it has grown today!) Libraries need money to buy and repair books, subscribe to magazines, pay for utilities, maintain computer systems, pay librarians, provide programs for children, and expand their offerings into the digital world. My libraries in Portland, Austin, and Alameda have e-book lending in addition to DVDs, CDs, and more traditional media. Libraries often provide meeting space for community groups, basic literacy programs for adults, tutoring for children, and a safe place for students of all ages to study and learn.

Michigan Humane Society. http://www.michiganhumane.org/ Nominated by a friend, but also a favorite of Mom (Elaine Bain, in case you’d like to donate in her memory). MHS is the largest and oldest animal welfare organization in Michigan. MHS services include care for animals and placement in responsible permanent homes. They have affordable microchipping program and a low-cost spay/neuter program, a pet food bank, a pet behavior hotline, and more. The website is filled with all manner of information about pets, how to deal with pet behavior, adoption stories, lost pets, travel with pets, and end of life care for pets. You need pet info, MHS has you covered—and with the internet, that’s even if you don’t live in Michigan. Feel free to support your state’s MHS equivalent.

National Center for Lesbian Rights. http://www.nclrights.org/ I recently learned about NCLR and all the work they do (which benefits many people who are not lesbians too!). Their work fits in perfectly with my desire for every U.S. citizen to fully enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. NCLR is working to achieve LGBT equality through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. They work on immigration, asylum, healthcare, housing, sports, prisoners’ rights, parenting, marriage, child custody, and so much more. They provide legal assistance to individual clients, and have a website with resources.

National Center for Transgender Equality. http://www.transequality.org In their own words, “The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. NCTE was founded in 2003 by transgender activists who recognized the urgent need for policy change to advance transgender equality. With a committed board of directors, a volunteer staff of one, and donated office space, we set out to accomplish what no one had yet done: provide a powerful transgender advocacy presence in Washington, D.C.”

Leslie Science & Nature Center. http://www.lesliesnc.org/support-us/donate Nominated by a friend. According to their website, “Leslie Science & Nature Center educates and inspires children and adults to discover, understand, and respect their natural environment.” They have nature camps, education programs, and host groups of school kids and Scouts. Their raptor center, critter house, and Black Pond Wood are open to visitors, too.

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. https://www.themmrf.org/ Nominated by a friend. I’ve learned myeloma is more common than I thought, since many of my friends seem to know someone who is affected. From their website, “The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) helps accelerate the development of next generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend patient’s lives, and lead to a cure. MMRF brings treatment to multiple myeloma patients 60% faster than the average through collaboration with best in class partners in the US and Internationally. In the process, we are changing the way cancer research is conducted. MMRF, a 501(c)(3), is the number one private funder of multiple myeloma research in the United States.”

The Nature Conservancy. http://www.nature.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. We address the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale. Thanks to the support of our more than 1 million members, we’ve built a tremendous record of success since our founding in 1951: We’ve protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide — and we operate more than 100 marine conservation projects globally. We are impacting conservation in 69 countries — protecting habitats from grasslands to coral reefs, from Australia to Alaska to Zambia. We address threats to conservation involving climate change, fresh water, oceans, and conservation lands.”

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. https://www.ncsfreedom.org/ Nominated by a friend. “The NCSF is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the US that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions.” Did you know that many states still have laws on the books criminalizing sex acts between consenting adults? Personally, I don’t want the government (or you!) deciding what I can and can’t do with my body in the privacy of my own bedroom.

Noah’s Light Foundation. https://www.noahslightfoundation.org/ I fundraised for Noah’s Light as a runner because they are awesome. Their goal is to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. Amber Larkin was Noah’s mother; Noah died of pediatric brain cancer and she founded Noah’s Light in his honor. NLF has funded the NOAH Protocol, which in 2014 went into clinical trials as the first pediatric brand cancer trial in 30 years. Yes, 30 years. The NOAH protocol started with cells from Noah, and is aimed to reduce and eliminate several types of pediatric brain cancer, and with great results: “Throughout the previous year, The NOAH Protocol has been up and running. Children have been through various stages of treatments and to date, no toxicity has been attributed to immune cell infusion. Because of this success, the researchers have been cleared by the FDA to provide the next, higher dose level in the trial. In addition to moving to the next level for the protocol, a co-trial is underway that uses a specialized imaging technique to track the movement of NK cells as they enter the brain to fight cancer cells.” Worthy work, since so few dollars donated to cancer research go to pediatric cancer, and don’t children deserve a chance?

Northwest Children’s Theater. http://nwcts.org/ Nominated by a friend who wrote, “I work for Northwest Children’s Theater […] and I must confess they’re my favorite. They spend every donated dollar on programs for disadvantaged youth, including free sensory friendly performances, Interns NW (a free program for teenagers that want to pursue theater as a career), free outreach programming to Title 1 schools, free preview shows, and scholarships to camps and classes. For 24 years they’ve had a policy to never turn a child or family away for lack of funds, and they have stood by this commitment, even when the founders had to use their own money to make sure every kid could go. Because of this, it’s one of the only places I’ve ever worked for that is truly ethnically and economically diverse, and they work hard to remove damaging stereotypes from their plays (which also have talented, diverse casts). It’s quite a gem.”

Oregon Natural Desert Association. https://onda.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Oregon’s desert is known for its stunning beauty, biological significance, recreational opportunities and cultural value. Much of Oregon’s high desert is publicly-owned land primarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). ONDA works with this agency and others every day to ensure that vast swaths of your lands remain wild, open spaces that will be there for future generations to enjoy. These lands are your lands! Over 8 million acres of these lands qualify as Wilderness but are yet to be protected as such. These lands as a whole provide important habitat for fish and wildlife such as pronghorn antelope, Greater sage-grouse, trout and salmon. Until permanent protections are gained, they are at risk.”

The Pajama Program. http://www.pajamaprogram.org/ Nominated by a friend. Bedtime is something I remember as comforting and homey—I always had nice jammies and plenty of books to read (or have read to me). It’s not the same for children in shelters, many of whom arrived with none of their own things and are facing bedtime in a scary and unfamiliar place. From the website, “By distributing new pajamas and new books to children in need, we are able to help provide children with a comforting, nurturing bedtime and literacy support. Our reading center helps to bridge the 30,000,000 word gap and gives these children the opportunity to read one on one with an adult, something they may not otherwise experience.”

Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/ Nominated by a friend who noted, “Planned Parenthood have had a special place in my heart. As a college student, who had no medical benefits, Planned Parenthood WAS my primary care provider (1988-1993) until I got my first ‘big girl’ job (with benefits). If it hadn’t been for PP, I would not have had a diagnosis or treatment for HPV.” This could have been written by at least 100 women I know personally—most of whom had a period with no health insurance or access to health insurance and would have gone without basic health care. From the website, “Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.” You can give nationally, or to your local/regional Planned Parenthood (which you can find via the link).

The Pongo Fund. http://www.thepongofund.org/ Nominated by a friend who explained, “The Pongo Fund are miracle workers. $1 donated becomes nearly $2 dollars spent towards providing food for not only animals, but their humans as well. They provide medical care that PAW Team (Portland Animal Welfare Team) can’t provide soon enough. They look at the animal and person as a unit/whole and do whatever they can to keep them together. Sometimes it’s getting a new collar and leash others it could be socks and shoes. They always exceed.” I’ve donated to pet food drives held for the Pongo Fund when running in Portland.

Public Radio. Everywhere. I’m a fan of KOPB (Oregon) and KQED (San Francisco), but there are local affiliates everywhere. One year I spent so much time in San Diego that I joined KPBS. You can join your local station at any time during the year, not just during the pledge drive time. You can also donate directly to NPR (National Public Radio) or PRI (Public Radio International), both of which produce news and entertainment.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). https://www.rainn.org/index.php Nominated by a friend, RAINN describes itself as “the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of ‘America’s 100 Best Charities’ by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Save the Children. https://www.savethechildren.net/ Nominated by a friend. An overview, from the website: “Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. In 2015, we reached over 62 million children directly through our and our partners’ work.” Save the Children provides safe play areas in refugee camps, secures education for vulnerable children, improves access to food and healthcare, and provides other services and education.

Seedlings. http://www.seedlings.org/ Seedlings started in a basement, with the goal of increasing the availability and decreasing the cost of braille books for children. In their own words, “Seedlings braille materials have opened up new worlds for thousands of children. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is keeping visually impaired children in the mainstream of popular literature and is reaching braille readers in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Seedlings contributes to literacy by providing visually impaired children equal opportunity to develop the love of reading. At this time, less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in braille. All too often, the written word has been inaccessible to them, and this is what we are hoping to change. Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. Just as sighted children learn to “read” as they are exposed to the printed word, so do visually impaired children who are exposed to the tactile page at an early age. New titles are added every year as highly skilled volunteer braille transcribers spend countless donated hours translating print books into braille and preparing them for computer disk to await production. Once the original translation is complete, additional books can be printed as needed. Exposure to popular, high quality braille literature throughout childhood increases the likelihood of children developing into able braille readers.”

Sponsor a Sister, via Women for Women International. http://www.womenforwomen.org/sponsor-a-sister Nominated by a friend who wrote, “I’m on my fifth or sixth sponsored sister by now. They write heart-wrenching letters of thanks. ‘Dear friend who loved me before you knew me…’” Donations provide a range of services from job skills education and business training to access to food and clean water. As the website explains, “With more than 20 years of on-the-ground experience working with women in countries affected by conflict, Women for Women International understands that a comprehensive program addressing the social and economic empowerment of marginalized women is the most effective approach.”

Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE). http://www.safeaustin.org/ Nominated by a friend who works there. From their website, “The SAFE Alliance is a structured partnership between SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter, two organizations that serve the survivors of child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Our Mission: To lead in ending sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse and domestic violence through prevention, intervention and advocacy for change.” They have a hotline, child education programs including a charter school for survivors, and more.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. https://www.stjude.org/give.html A charity that works with runners to raise money for a great cause: life-saving medical treatment for children with serious diseases. From their website, “The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.” The majority of St. Jude’s funding comes from individual donations, and families are not billed for medical services.

Toys for Tots. http://www.toysfortots.org/ If you don’t know where to donate a physical toy, you can look up your local toy drive online. You can also donate money. From the website, “The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”

To Write Love on Her Arms. https://twloha.com/ Nominated by a friend. From the website, “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” So many of my friends have struggled—and do struggle—with these problems, and it’s time we stop stigmatizing them.

Team RWB. https://www.teamrwb.org/ In case you’ve been living under a rock, Team RWB has been out in force at all sorts of races, mud runs, workouts, and other team events. From the website, “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.” You can donate to the national organization or find a local one. They always need volunteers, too.

Vortex. http://www.vortexrep.org Nominated by a friend. There is no way I can do their work justice by selecting a piece from their description of what they do—which includes presenting new works (plays, opera, ritual theatre), educational programming including a summer children’s program, and providing a “green” performance venue (recycling, composting) that includes a butterfly sanctuary. Their mission: “We conjure and navigate the storm of imagination
with urgent, unashamed art that dares to dream the world in which we want to live.
This magic emanates from our cultural harbor, embraces diverse communities, breaks down barriers, and opens channels for vital exchange.”

Water for People. https://www.waterforpeople.org/ Nominated by a friend who said, “Just having access to the most basic of needs can make a huge difference.” It’s true—have you ever had to live without unfettered access to clean water? Ever visited a place where you might have water for an hour, but it isn’t drinkable? According to Water for People, “1.8 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water and 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Women and children spend more than 4 hours walking for water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases. We’re here to change that. We want to see communities break free from the cycle of poverty and spend time growing, learning, and thriving, instead of walking for water and fighting off illness.”

Tell me?

Where are you sending resourcs this #GivingTuesday? Is your favorite not on my list? Leave a comment with a link and why you choose!

Honestly, I had very low expectations for this event for a number of reasons: (1) Lifetime Fitness, one of the main sponsors, promoted and sponsored a “Commitment Day 5k” on New Year’s Day 2013 and not only was the San Francisco event cancelled, I was never notified of the cancellation and spent part of New Year’s Eve scrambling around the internet trying to figure out where I was supposed to show up.  Also, still waiting for a refund. (2) The event was moved from its original location (Emeryvile, near me!) to Palo Alto, on a weeknight.  Seriously guys, who plans a run for a weekday evening at the end of one of the major traffic corridors in the country?? (3) Originally the event had a 10k and a 5k, but the 10k was cancelled just a few weeks’ out.

That said, I had a fantastic time!

Pre-event: The customer service team was quite accommodating and offered to allow me to either cancel my registration with a full refund or switch to the 5k with a partial refund (the initial cost for the 10k was a little bit more than the 5k).  Mad props to Stephanie Weber, the recipient of my initial email which included complaints about the cancellation of the Commitment Day run.  One day I was pleasantly surprised by an email informing me I’d won a full box of Luna bars; as promised, a full box of 15 Peanut Honey Pretzel flavored Luna bars arrived at my door via UPS.  Communication regarding logistics was adequate without being overwhelming.

Arrival: Parking locations were signed/easy to locate.  Lots were close to the start!  Check-in had a wait of a mere five minutes, with no waiting at bag check.

The course: A 5k out-and-back in a regional park (Baylands Nature Preserve) that will soon be closed to all events for several years, it had both negative and positive aspects.  I was annoyed by the narrow passage in a few spots, and decidedly uncomfortable on the unpaved sections, where I was literally eating runners’ dust (and crying it out from under my contact lenses).  On the bright side, it was a gorgeous day to be outside, the park setting was lovely, and the water station and cheerleaders did a great job.  The two-wave start was a great idea.  I loved seeing the girls from Girls on the Run smiling on the course (as they passed me in one direction or the other).

The swag and after-party: Decidedly great!  Instead of a race shirt, Esprit de She came with a cute tank top and reusable yellow cross-body bag (think Chico Bag, but with a cross-body design and an internal pocket).  The bag had sponsor samples, of course, and more were available at the finish line.  After I had a mimosa and a glass of wine, I enjoyed a vegetarian sandwich (I’m a vegetarian–meat-eater sandwiches were also available) and other snacks accompanied by live music.  I spent some time chatting at the Vega booth (more on that in a later post).  I skipped the mini massages, manicures, and makeovers, in part because it was getting chilly as the sun went down and in part because I had an hour’s drive ahead of me.  One thing I didn’t skip: entering the “text to win” by sponsor Athleta–I won a $50 gift card!

Conclusion: I’d definitely do this event again.  For one, Girls on the Run (http://www.girlsontherun.org) is a worthy recipient of funds raised by this event.  Second, there were a decent number of women who were running their very first 5k.  The event accommodated both the faster runners (definitely not me!) and the super slow-pokes (that’s me).  Finally, I had a great time even though only one of my running buddies was there.  I’m looking forward to 2014.

 

For more information on the Esprit de She series of runs, rides, duathlons, and triathlons, visit http://www.espritdeshe.com

 

Disclosure: Back in 2o12, I was selected to be one of the original Women’s Health Magazine “Action Hero” team members. The main purpose of an Action Hero was to promote the Run 10 Feed 10 event, benefiting FEED. The event has changed over the years and sprouted in new cities. There’s even an app! I retired from the Action Hero program after three years, but still think this is a great event. To see if there is one near you, check out the official Run 10 Feed 10 site.

Are you Hungry?

According to the World Food Program, a division of the United Nations, hunger is the world’s most solvable problem. The problem isn’t a lack of food–we have plenty on the planet. It’s about connecting that food to the hungry people that need it. Media showcase the obvious problems daily: hungry people living in war zones where the roads used to deliver food are no longer safe, or where armed conflict has forced people out of their homes and farmers away from their fields, or in areas struck by disasters from hurricanes to annual floods to earthquakes. Since most of us see that news via wifi or high speed internet from the comfort of secure homes with heat and running water, it is easy to forget that there are hungry people right here in the United States. Hunger may not be as widespread or severe as it is in other places (the World Food Program doesn’t even operations in the United States) but it still exists.

Pizza: a treat for me, a luxury for many.

Hunger isn’t seasonal.

You might think of hunger around the holidays–when there are always plentiful food drives and various churches, synagogues, temples, and other organizations sponsor holiday meals for needy families–but a child is just as likely to be hungry when school lets out for the summer and they don’t have access to the federal school lunch program. According to the FEED Foundation, a big proponent of school meals and the charity beneficiary of Run 10 Feed 10, the number of hungry has increased more than 30% since 2007. Hungry children suffer even more than hungry adults, as an empty belly makes it hard to stay focused and learn in school. Hungry kids don’t get the nutrients they need to grow, and often suffer health problems into adulthood.

Here is your call to action: sign up now to Run 10 Feed 10 (http://www.run10feed10.com).

As you run your 10k, you’ll know you’ve fed at least ten hungry children. If you choose to fundraise, you can feed even more!  The fundraising commitment–if you choose to go that route–is only $100.  That’s really low and easily achievable; just ask ten of your friends to kick in $10, or ask 20 friends to donate one day of latte/smoothie money ($5), and you’re there.  The events are fun, filled with women and men out to share a run and a cause.  Each participant is guaranteed a friendly run and a post-race gathering, complete with your very own FEED Foundation bag.

If you’re like me, you can go grab this from your fridge. Many Americans can’t, and many don’t have a home with a fridge.

The information in this paragraph is outdated. Check out the main site, link above! Until September 1, you can use the code WHBAIN to save on your registration fee (and still feed ten meals!).  The complete listing of events is at http://www.run10feed10.com  While I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ll be running in Los Angeles on September 29.  Other members of The Women’s Health Action Hero team will be at every scheduled event, and are creating events in other cities.  Check out http://www.run10feed10atlanta.com if you are in Georgia!  If you can’t make any of the events, simply run your own: you choose the when and where, and Run 10 Feed 10 will send your FEED bag directly to you.

Who’s in??

If you don’t want to Run 10, you can still help Feed 10! Check out the event’s Crowdrise page, and donate to the fundraiser of your choice.