As a part of Kevin Harts current USA comedy tour he is hosting pop up 5K runs in most of the towns he tours in. These are more commonly known as Run With Hart. It’s something he is doing to just get people out and active. This past weekend I participated in his Philly run. Since Kevin is originally from Philly, he was working on this being one of the biggest runs he has had to date, and he did not disappoint. I have not been to any other run he hosted, but the turn out for this run was incredible.
What Kevin is doing is awesome. Truth be told I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there. I had heard of the runs and seen them on social media, but didn’t know what the race day experience was like. Before I get into the actual run itself I think it’s important to talk about Kevin’s message.
I am a huge Kevin Hart fan so I know how funny he can be. And honestly that is what I expected. I thought he would get on the mic, tell a few jokes, make the crowd laugh and then we would be off. And while he definitely had his fair share of jokes, it wasn’t a comedy sketch. You could tell Kevin really believed in what he was doing. He referred to the day as a “run” not a “race”. Meaning he didn’t want people to look at this as beating the person next to you, but instead encouraging those next to you. He took it a step further and even asked everyone in the crowd that if they see someone struggling on the course to encourage them to finish strong. It wasn’t about getting the most laughs for him, it was about being the best you that you can be.
He went even further to ask the crowd how many first time runners were out there. He asked the crowd to cheer if it was their first official run. And I was impressed with how many people cheered. Here you have a celebrity using their public status to get tons of people who have never run an official run before out there for the first time.
Now onto the run itself….
Nike Running did an AMAZING job with this run. Like I said, I had no clue what to expect. Since this was a free “pop up” run I assumed it would be a very basic run. No bathrooms, no water on the course, no after run water/food. Wow was I wrong. This run was organized better than most runs I have paid good money for. Not only did it have all the usual running ammentities such as portable bathrooms, water on the course, post run water/ snacks they also gave every runner a t-shirt and special #RunWithHart bracelet. And this was a run that didn’t cost runners a dime!
There were volunteers with shirts that read “Pacers” everywhere to help with any issue you had. You walked into the check in line, gave them your info and were let into the race. Before the race I didn’t see what would stop people from just coming into the race and running without registering. But not only did they have official check in stations for registered runners, they even had a waiting line for people who didn’t sign up to see if they could get in. And the waiting line was easily 100 people deep!
For the actual run you weren’t given a bib, nor was it timed. You got a wristband when you checked in, and they marked your wristband when you got your free shirt. But once again, Kevin promotes this as a run and not a race. However for me I was so amped up with positivity that I told myself I was going out to PR the run. I was definitely on my way to a PR after the first mile. I knew I went out fast for my normal running pace and didn’t realize how fast until after the run was over. I looked at my GPS and my first mile was 8.40. For someone who normally runs a 10 minute mile I was very happy. Unfortunately around mile 2 my old hamstring injury re-appeared. As a result I had to slow down my pace. My 2nd mile finished at 9.55 and 3rd mile at 10.28 for a final time of 30.19. However I was still happy because despite the slight hamstring pull I came in just 2 minutes shy of my PR at 30 minutes! The run itself finished up the famous “Rocky Steps” and got very crowded to the point you had to slow down to a stop. Had it finished under normal circumstances I would have gotten in under 30 minutes and had my first sub 30 of the year. But once again this was a “run” not a “race” so I couldn’t help but be satisfied.
Overall this was such an awesome experience. Kevin Hart is a great comedian and because of his comedy there are times where you may not take him seriously. This run was not the case. I fed off his energy and could tell he cares about what he is doing. If he is running one of these runs in your city, you must get out there and register. Especially if you don’t have much running experience, these runs are definitely for all levels!