Now that 2020 is almost in our rearview mirrors, we wanted to take a moment and reflect on what this year has been for us, the Run The Edge team. Each person in this world has had their own individual experience, yet we have all been affected by the exact same circumstances. We, as a small startup founded on the idea of offering virtual/ remote/ not-in-person fitness challenges to everyone who wants them, found ourselves in a very unique position this year when the world began to shut down. What has this year meant for Run The Edge?
Run The Edge’s entire operation revolves around making our challenges accessible to EVERYONE from ANYWHERE. The way we achieved that was to put our challenges on a completely remote and virtual participation platform. The only thing about us that was not virtual was our workspace (and the awesome swag we sell). We had thrived off of seeing each other in the office and collaborating face to face. Though it was much easier for us than for many other fitness companies to pivot to a remote workspace, we also suffered from lack of human contact and every one of us missed being in the office together. Video calls, as essential and amazing a tool as this technology has proven to be this year, are simply not a good substitute for human interaction. We dearly missed the feeling of community that we had fostered so enthusiastically within the walls of our office. And the fancy coffee machine. We really missed that. Despite the complaints we may have had about our own “new normal,” we were extremely fortunate to be able to transition to a remote workspace with relatively few hiccups. We are well aware that this was not the case for the vast majority of others in the workforce, and felt wave after wave of gratitude as we realized how lucky we were that our company was not only based entirely on a virtual model, but also that the majority of our daily work could be completed remotely.
As we settled into our new remote work life, we began brainstorming ways to combat the swathe of canceled running and walking events that was quickly enveloping the fitness community. Fueled by a combination of our initial gratitude at what we still had despite the global crisis and our determination to provide the stricken community with something that COULDN’T be canceled, we introduced The Un-Canceled Project. We produced this project in less than two weeks, entirely from scratch. This was a 12-week challenge that featured a different important theme every week, and allowed participants to choose which distance they wanted to run or walk — anything from a 5k to an Ultra — on any given day during the challenge. The weekly themes spotlighted aspects of human nature that we found to be Un-Cancelable, such as Gratitude, Humor, Community, and Life. We ensured that registrations for the Un-Canceled Project remained completely free of charge for its entire duration; we had never intended to sell any kind of swag for it — we were extremely reluctant to make any kind of profit from an event that left so many struggling — but after receiving an overwhelming amount of requests, decided to create shirts and medals. We reconciled our qualms by donating 100% of profits (over $25,000) to Feeding America and knowing that we were supporting small, local businesses throughout the manufacturing process for the shirts and medals.
This last-minute challenge and the circumstances that brought it into existence showed us Run The Edge team members several important aspects about our company, our community, and our mission. Firstly, being able to put out the Un-Canceled Project in such a short time made us ever more grateful that we are a small company (there are six of us total!) who can not only pivot to accommodate unprecedented circumstances, but also operate with creative freedom and incredible efficiency. The virtual fitness industry experienced a significant boom at the beginning of the pandemic, and we were lucky enough to already be established in it. Far from congratulating ourselves on being comfortably settled in a newly growing field, this only served to redouble our efforts to provide this amazing community with the absolute best and most unique challenges we can. Secondly, we were absolutely bowled over by the enthusiasm, generosity, and un-dampened spirit of the community our participants have created around these events. Seriously, we could not have predicted the outpouring of support to our company and among fellow participants. Social media was overflowing with kindness and encouragement, and that touched us more than we can ever express. We watched that wave of mutual good will carry on throughout the summer and into the latter half of this crazy year. We are still witnessing the effects of the incredible support network that the Run The Edge community has built over the course of 2020.
On top of adjusting to life in the COVID-19 pandemic, we encountered more turbulence during the summer months when the Black Lives Matter movement swept the USA. This surge of social activism demanded that Run The Edge, and many companies across the nation, take a serious look at ourselves and confront whatever problematic behaviors, ideas, and actions we found within ourselves. We as a team asked ourselves what we could do to support equality, justice, and human rights. We took it especially seriously because inclusivity is an essential pillar of our mission not only as a brand, but also as individuals. We are passionate about ensuring that EVERYONE who chooses to take on our challenges feels Challenged, Included, and Successful. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind in any space, virtual or physical, that we occupy. We met in person for the first time since March to discuss our stance, statement, and how we wanted to better ourselves as a company. Run The Edge received overwhelming support and valuable feedback from all of you who took on our challenges and made your voices heard in our facebook groups. We are so grateful for that, and we have emerged as a better and more self-aware company. And we have all of you to thank for it!
The fall brought with it stricter social distancing policies, colder weather, and another wave of the virus. We at Run The Edge were already preparing for our Run The Year 2021 challenge and were eagerly awaiting shipments of medals, shirts, streaker tags, passports, keychains, and everything else you love about Run The Year. We knew that our busy season in 2020 would look much different from past years, so we did our best to push ahead! With local occupancy ordinances in place, we cannot call on our army of friends, family, and high school cross country teams to help us with the enormous amount of shipping we have to undertake for every Run The Year challenge we launch. We are confined to our homes and can have only very limited interaction between households. We have gone as far as to turn the homes of Run The Edge team members into shipping “pods” to facilitate the whole process and make it possible for us to send out your packages without being in the office! We have had to be very creative and flexible, and, though we are not operating at warp speed like we usually are, we are managing to overcome yet another obstacle. Don’t think that just because we’re the ones dishing out the challenges we can’t take on some of our own! Right now, we continue to improvise solutions, adapt to our current circumstances, and overcome each new obstacle every day of 2020!
This year has been many things for us. Difficult. Uncertain. Frustrating. But above all, the adversity of this year has shown us how amazingly resilient and generous you all are, and renewed our drive to give you the best we can of ourselves and our brand. The best challenges, best support, and the best communities. This year has tested us, but it has also presented us with the opportunity to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses as a team. We consider ourselves very lucky to have such amazing people choosing to do our challenges, and we could not have survived this year without you. We want to thank you once more for rising to a whole new set of challenges and taking in stride everything this year has thrown at us with compassion, dignity, and humor. We cannot wait to see what you all accomplish in 2021, and we promise you that we will put everything we have learned this year into becoming an even better Run The Edge in the future. We hope everyone is ready for the new year, and is going into it safe, healthy, and happy! Goodbye, 2020!