The November Project’s Ninja Race Recap
One brave magazine editor took on the November Project's Ninja Race in 9 degree weather and loved it. You would too.
Getting ready to run. Photo by Madison Kahn
Hub HealthÂ covered the November Project back in late-October, just before they celebrated their one-yearÂ anniversary. The free, grassroots fitnessÂ communityÂ meets three times a week at 6:30 a.m. to workout, rain, snow, or shine. More than 2,000 people in Boston have worked out with the November Project, and most of them found out about it viaÂ socialÂ media.Â Last week, they organized the first annual (ever) Ninja Race, an 8-mile run around the city.
â€śThis is NOT a race,â€ť instructed an anonymous male voice over a megaphone. â€śThis is a coincidence.â€ť And with that, more than 350 peopleâ€”dressed in all black, some carrying plastic swords, and most wearing facemasksâ€”took off down the Charles River Pathway. It was 9:15 p.m. and a bone-chilling 9 degreesÂ (meteorologists earlier declared temperatures the coldest in two years), but these people didnâ€™t care. In each of their fleece-lined pockets was a yellow hand-drawn map that outlined the 8-mile courseâ€”above it read, â€śThanks Mother Nature, for always keeping it real.â€ť Passersby called them crazyâ€”or just gave bewildering looks of concern. Cars honked, bicycles ringed, and dogs barked as this stealthy black fleet ran through the night. And to all, their response was the same: a fist-pump and â€śFuck yeah!â€ť
When I heard about the November Projectâ€™s Ninja Race (or should I say #ninjarace), I was hooked. For someone whoâ€™s used â€śninjaâ€ť as a verb more often than a noun, I knew this raceâ€”especiallyÂ its roots in eccentric dress and silly behaviorâ€”was for me. So last Wednesday, I convinced my roommate to bundle up in all black and venture out into the night with me to run 8-miles along the Charles River. She thought I was insane (and to a certain extent she was correct) but my hesitations were dismissed as soon as I got on the T. There were two other black ninjas (one with a beard he could barely contain in his balaclava) stretching their calves on the subway carâ€™s poles.
I had no idea where this race started, but as soon as I got off the T, I realized that would not be a problem. Twenty ninjas, a few of them looking as lost as I was, were all waiting in the Charles-MGH station, jumping up and down, stretching, taking pre-race pictures, and scoping out their competition. As each minute passed, more and more ninjas trickled in. And the more impressed I became with these ninjasâ€™ creativity. There was a ninja turtle, a group of neon ninjas, a Christmas treeâ€”lights and allâ€”ninja, people with ninja swords tucked into their back pockets, and even one with a nunchuck draped around his neck. I sported a black bandana I originally thought was pretty badass, but retracted that assumption after looking around. (Next time, I told myself, I would dig up my costume box.) Finally, at 9:13 p.m., someone initiated the movement towards the Teddy Ebersol’s Field.
The scene at the start line was the best mix of utter madness and pure genius I had ever seen. Hundreds of black figures (only eyes were visible due to extreme bundling) huddled together, jumping up and down, occasionally squealing with excitement. I was half-expecting a Michael Jordan wannabe to start the Chicago Bulls â€śWhat time is it?â€ť pregame chant. After sufficient adrenaline hyping, hugs, high-fivesâ€”and a warmer-upper burpeeâ€”this crew of ninjas was ready to rock and roll.
The eight-mile run was surprisingly pleasant. The moon was out, and the city skyline painted the perfect backdrop for a nice evening dash. Every mile or so, a couple cheerleaders offered bells and words of encouragement, and after 40 minutes the serious speedsters were already on their way back, high-fiving the slowpokes for support. A couple live bands played motivational beats and music under the bridges we passed. But perhaps better than the run itself was the fact that close to 400 people were running with me.
There were winnersâ€”marathoner Ian Nurse ran it in 48 minutesâ€”but there were no losers. Everyone who finished got a free beer at the Back Bay Social Club. More than a testament to the new-fangled power of social media, the November Project is proof that thereâ€™s power in numbers. And if youâ€™re still skeptical of this grassroots fitness tribe, try it. Because after you do, youâ€™ll probably feel the same way the November Project did after the race:
That, whatever that was, was fucking awesome. #BostonNinjaRace 2013 is officially on the books.
â€” November Project (@Nov_Project) January 24, 2013
Ninjas taking over the T station before the race. Photo by Madison Kahn.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/01/29/november-projects-free-boston/