Thursday at around 1pm I received a text message from a tall, bald Serbian man named Bojan who may or may not have co-founded November Project. Here is what the text said:

” Happy 1 year my dude.”

Since that text I have been rewinding this past year in my mind, watching 175 people running stairs, doing burpees and hugging each other like they are related. Then I watch 100 people running in the rain, 75 people doing hoisties, 50 people on P.R day, 25 people dressed in ridiculous costumes, 10 people sprinting past the Fed Hill Cannon  until finally I arrive at 3 people standing at the top of the hill asking each other what the hell they were doing there. That day was November 13’th, 2013, the very first day November Project Baltimore was anything more than an idea. To the two people who were standing at the top of that hill with me, know that you mean the world to me. To the hundreds of people that have continued to run those steps and hug like they mean it…I am forever grateful for your willingness to work towards making the world just a little bit better and our city just a little bit happier.

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November Project Baltimore has become a story about people and their city.

We watched the tribe morph from an awkward group of 10, unsure about hugging and  cussing so early in the morning, to a group of nearly 200 who couldn’t be more sure of themselves and their commitment to joy and positivity. To those members that showed up  in the earliest days when the weather was wretched and the tribe was miniscule, you are the people that made that change possible. By simply by waking up and putting yourself in a position to make someone’s day brighter you created something out of nothing. A year and a week ago there was nothing on those steps.

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And you kept showing up.

Somewhere along the way we all realized that working out and staying fit was just one piece of the puzzle. We got excited about running, we got excited about our city, we got excited to wake up and smile with people we enjoyed. Maybe we could get a better workout at a crossfit gym or with a running club but maybe that wasn’t the point. Maybe surrounding yourself with 40 people who would push you and support you was better ( or at least different) than your gym membership. Better yet, maybe the workouts did kick your ass.

And then more people came…

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Soon the tribe was supporting each other long after workouts were over. We finally asked that cute girl out mid burpee, or that studly man piece out while synchronized lunging. We met friends with similar interests, with totally different interests or with awesome taste in beer.  All sorts of different people started showing up and hugging and cussing and brightening up even the shittiest mornings.

And then the stairs were crowded and the bounce was just a mass of sweaty lifeforms…

The tribe has been and will always be about WE. Sure, over a year ago three people climbed the steps of Federal Hill to see if working out in the morning was even worth their time. We could try to measure success in the number of people that show up for workouts but that could never tell the whole story. The real story is still being told. It’s in the support we give each other long after workouts are done, it’s in the positivity we bring with us to work every Wednesday and Friday. It’s in our willingness to support great organizations like Back on My Feet or Baltimore Beach, to reach out to a stranger and say “Hey, I hope you have an awesome day.” It’s in our willingness to make friends, to support our neighborhoods, to offer a fellow runner a hand during a marathon or to run through a side street in a penguin costume.

The tribe is yours…

We say this as if it’s some sort of profound statement but it’s the entire point of this last year. NPBAL was created to make lives a little bit better in whatever way possible. We know, maybe this is asking a lot of ” a workout group” or a “boot camp,” but we’re hoping that, if we’re right, November Project can radiate out much further than that. So, if November Project is about getting fit for you, we hope you run those stairs as hard as you can and push the person in front of you. If it’s about meeting the love of your life, start by asking them to run a hill with you. If it’s about becoming a morning person set your alarms…all of them! If it’s about changing your life for the better then hold on, we’re all here to help. The tribe is whatever you need it to be, any day of the week and after a year I think we’re  starting to get it right.

Everyone told us the first year was going to be the hardest. Well, we made it and the only way we’re headed is up. I can’t wait for the day when the mayor not only shows up but yells her first “fuck yeah” or Adam Jones rolls through and hugging suddenly become a lot more popular. I can’t wait for clothing drives, glow parties, Narwhal concerts and more races in grassroots gear than I can possibly fathom. Lets keep this party rolling…Whatchu know about 2015? Fuck yeah.

And if you haven’t gotten to a workout yet, we suggest you #justshowup. It’s your turn to climb the steps for the first time…who knows where the next year will lead.

On a personal note: Thank you all for one of the best years of my life and I look forward to the next year  of sweaty hugs, steep hills and an asshole in a leotard challenging me to a stair race. I don’t get many chances to thank everyone but from Bojan and Brogan who let us do this, Malik and Mel who ran with me that first day,  Pat and Sydney who have been running with me since, to Gio who has been our rock behind the camera to all of you people that make our gospel of positivity a reality…thank you.

 

Keep taking big bites out of life,

 

Nick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 year later-Baltimore
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