Run Social Atlanta fosters running, fun and inclusivity as it grows from the grassroots #runningnerd movement
Tes Sobomehin Marshall is leading a grassroots effort to grow the running community in her home city of Atlanta – with a focus on events and training opportunities that are social, inclusive, fun and even a bit nerdy.
A self-proclaimed “runningnerd” and founder of a Facebook page of the same name, Marshall got into running seven years ago and was bit hard by the racing bug. She started organizing training runs and races with her running friends, and soon realized that there was a great opportunity to create community with running as the catalyst.
This year, Marshall rebranded her races and events under the name Run Social Atlanta, which recently joined Running USA.
We asked Marshall share her vision and experiences as a “runningnerd.” In fact, she is working on a documentary about the experience. You can watch the trailer here and read on for more insight.
RUSA: What is runningnerds and what is Run Social Atlanta and how do the two of those intersect?
Marshall: runningnerds began as a Facebook page to facilitate a running community around my own newfound passion for running back in 2012. The mission statement of runningnerds is “A social forum, resource, and service to the contemporary running community.” Through runningnerds (LLC), I have organized and executed training groups, clinics, run groups, group runs, and road race events. In 2017 I took all of our most popular races and events, added a couple of new events, and rebranded our races and events as Run Social Atlanta. So Run Social is basically just runningnerds’ race and event series.
RUSA: You've identified a desire among your Run Social participants for running to be more than just a run. How did you catch on to that need for community and how are you addressing it?
Marshall: Over the first 3 years of hosting race and events I noticed that the more popular events were those that had some type of social aspect to them. People would stick around longer after they crossed the finish line when there was a reason to engage with other runners and activity. I saw this particularly with The ATL Relay 10K & 20K and the Monday Night Brewing Westside 10. From there I sought out partnerships with Topgolf, UrbanTree Cidery, and Ponce City Market and rebranded our race series and events as Run Social. The goal is to put on the best races ever for our running community!
RUSA: You are also part of The Race presented by Unity Collective. What is that event all about?
Marshall: I am a proud founding partner of the The Unity Collective. The Unity Collective is a collaboration or running community leaders, vendors, sponsors, and supporters united to host a road race which will support black owned business, neighborhoods, and charities. runningnerds will produce and manage The Race which will take place on Saturday, October 13th in Atlanta. We are currently in a kickstarter campaign to build support for The Race with a goal of 700 backers to join The Unity Collective!! (At the time of this email we are at 515 backers and over $50,000 pledged).
Fellow founding partners includes leadership from South Fulton Running Partners, Black Men Run, and Time Bandit Racing Co. Here is our kickstarter campaign and video if you want to check it out.
RUSA: How would you describe the Atlanta running scene as a whole? How are you hoping to change or shape it?
Marshall: I believe that the Atlanta running community represents the BEST the USA has to offer. Runners from other cities tell me all the time that we really have a vibrant and diverse running community. There are group runs every night of the week, dozens or running clubs/crews/groups/teams to join or participate. We have quality races just about every weekend of the year. Small races, middle distance, and a world class marathon. The Atlanta Track Club is an awesome “big brother/big sister” organization that supports running in all aspects and provides so much opportunity for individuals and groups to get involved.
I believe runningnerds’ place in the running community is to simply provide fun, social, well organized races and events for runners of all abilities & goal sets to enjoy. I think people would say we have built a positive reputation in this community with our works and events!
RUSA: Is this a model you are hoping to expand to other areas or is it strictly regional for now?
Marshall: I really love being a grass roots local organization. I am always happy to talk with group run leaders in other areas and cities about my experiences and best practices. I don’t see runningnerds becoming a corporate type organization, but I would love to see this “model” be implemented in every city and state to give more people an opportunity to grow the running community.
RUSA: You have running ambassadors who work with you on Run Social, what is their role and how do they help spread the word about your program?
Marshall: Our awesome Run Social Ambassadors are our biggest fans and advocates of all things runningnerds. Each of them were selected because of their previous enthusiasm and dedication to the runningnerdnation. They are great on social media, attend most of our events, and also help out at races and events where we have a presence with a booth or table. They also LOVE swag and represent at races and community events!