NP SUMMIT journal — reflections from a November Project kinda weekend in The Vegas

A large group photo after a Kesha concert.
Just a small NP picture after a Kesha concert in Vegas.

What happens in Vegas … will not stay in Vegas — at least not in the NP world. Last weekend, a fearless group from DC joined hundreds of others decked out in grassroots gear representing 52 cities from around the world at the 7th annual November Project SUMMIT. To say this was a different kind of Vegas trip would be an understatement. Sure, there were pools and perhaps some gambling, but mostly there was a lot of running, hugging, high-fiving and community. We asked those who made the trip to sum it up succinctly or with a favorite memory, and to send us a picture. Here goes.

PS: Read this and feel FOMO? Yeah, us too. Go ahead and #Verbal for the eighth edition coming to Minneapolis in October 2020. 

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Mike Grinnell
If you are reading this then you are probably already drinking the November Project DC Kool-Aid. It’s free. It’s fun. It’s a community. Now imagine what happens when you take that DC experience and amplify it by bringing together cities from around the world. Make it even bigger by tossing in Vegas, Kesha, a workout from the founders of NP, a pool party at a swanky resort, and taking over a bar for an after-party. It doesn’t get any better than that.

For me, Summit was about seeing people at their best, which was summed up in the half marathon. Kathleen crushed her first half. Libby slid in seconds under her goal. Maddie just dominates all sports so why wouldn’t she post an amazing time? Hannah ran the entire half with the Positivity Award. Alek pushed through even when his body didn’t want to. I loved being able to be a part of that run pool and cheer them on every step of the way.  

Mike put together this hyperlapse of the half marathon.

Alek Krautmann
Positivity. Community. Accountability. Those are the words bouncing around in my head as I think about this past weekend at Summit. They are pretty powerful aspects of November Project overall. 

Positivity – oh yeah! That was everywhere. “Positive attitude changes everything.” That framework I first learned years ago. I operate at my best when surrounded by positivity. What a blast to be around hundreds of people that feel the same! 

Community – of course I had a great time with the NPDC crowd and meeting new folks from all over, but I also had the chance to catch up with friends from my former life, New Orleans! Several of them are now in different cities themselves – San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and New York. How about that for community! 

Accountability – running the half with DC friends was my favorite part of the weekend. The first 10 miles flew by! We were laughing and cruising past the sights. The last stretch featured a brief drought in the fun, but I knew there was a great group of people and an after-party waiting. I appreciate the accountability November Project provides. (Uh, just don’t ask about mile 10 😆).

Six people hold their medals and smile after a half marathon.
How about that half marathon!?

Libby Norwood
So I’m fresh off of my first NP Summit, and there’s so much that could be said about the experience. It was truly incredible coming together with hundreds of other people from cities all over and having something in common with each person there. In my few months with NP, the community is what has impacted me the most, and it was definitely felt all weekend long. I ran the half marathon with a handful of other DC group members, and we couldn’t go more than a few minutes without running into other NP folks. The beauty of this course was that the entire race was an out and back, which means you have people coming at you the whole time. This provided plenty of opportunities to spot other tagged shirts and to scream at each other from across Las Vegas Boulevard. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and honestly the extra support from the rest of November Project is what got me through the end of this stinkin’ race. 

That being said, my favorite part (other than the Kesha concert) was probably on Saturday when a large group of people from various cities met up to run pool to the workout. It was truly, TRULY hilarious. I’m obsessed with our columbia heights run pool here, so getting to partake in a huge one down the strip is something I will never ever forget and will continue to talk about until the day I die, most likely.

13 people, mostly from DC, smile after doing a workout at City Hall.
Get a load of this Saturday workout crew!

Alex Spigelman
Kesha (or is it Ke$ha??? I’m not sure but I think I saw that somewhere) had finished her performance. Workers were starting to clear the stage, clean up the confetti that had blown around the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, and usher everyone to the exits. And it was outside those exits that the epitomization of Summit 2019 could be seen: a mob of multicolored November Project shirts gathering together for a photo. And that mob kept growing … and growing … and growing … and growing … seemingly endlessly. I pity the fool who agreed to take that photo!

For 60ish hours, November Project shirts seemed as ubiquitous on the Las Vegas strip as neon lights and slot machines. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite that extreme. But regardless, Summit opened up a new, broader perspective on NP. The ability to connect, however briefly, not only with members of cities throughout the country and world but with my fellow members of the DC crew (whose athleticism, perseverance, openness, and spirit represented us quite well at workouts, at races, at karaoke, and beyond) was valuable, and the attitude everyone brought to Summit was infectious. 

It was ultimately a memorable weekend and I can’t wait to see how Minneapolis will top it next year! I’m sure it will. 

A group photo of the DC crew on a field strewn with confetti.
An after-party with confetti? Why not!

Natalie Beach
It’s been a tough year for me and NP. A series of confounding injuries has led to me missing far more workouts and run pools than I ever would have wanted. I’ve had a bit of an existential crisis about my relationship with NP and running in general. It’s been really hard.

But Summit was a nice reminder of what attracted me to NP in the first place, three years ago. For the most part, the sort of people who go to NP are really excellent people – kind, loyal, fun, reliable, positive and strong. Being connected to something beyond yourself, beyond DC, is really powerful and important. Knowing where to find good people in 50-plus cities is pretty darn special, and Summit is the best reminder of that. The pool parties, concerts, llama kisses and wild Vegas nights (all of which were SO SO SO much fun!) were a nice kick in the pants to remind me how many truly excellent people this movement has led me to or brought me closer to. And for that, I’m so grateful. 

Five women in grassroots gear hang out above a swimming pool.
Just a little pool party.

Hannah Sedgwick
Vegas is a loud, completely extra, flashy place, and everywhere we went NP was easily the loudest, most enthusiastic group of people there, which is really saying a lot about what a presence NP has. At the Kesha concert, we jumped and screamed the entire time and were the most hype (RIP voice) especially when Kesha held up a tagged shirt. At the 5k, we brought the energy to the final turn of the race. At the Sunday races, we were tearing up the course and screaming for the NP people we saw on the out and back and had the most fun of anyone running. On the Strip at 5am to get to the run pool to the workout, everyone looked at us like we’d lost our mind for going out for a run when the rest of Vegas was still out from the night before (but I think they were secretly jealous because we were having the best time). The NP cheer station on Sunday was the best and loudest crew we saw for the entire half marathon. This is all of course in my completely ~unbiased~ opinion.  

There’s truly something special about an NP Summit, and this year’s iteration was no different. What I think makes Summit such a cool experience is getting to meet people from other NP cities and seeing the friends you’ve made along the way (plus spending time with NPDC friends!). There’s something comforting in the fact that you could go to 51 other cities in the world and you’d be able to find your people. We talk about the larger NP community often, but seeing and meeting those people makes you realize how much NP means to so many others. 

Six members of the crew take a selfie
Group selfie!

Carrie Clowney 
“You’re going to Vegas to workout?!” was a common response when I told non-NP friends and colleagues that I was going to be attending this year’s Summit. I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive at first about Vegas being chosen for this year’s location, so apprehensive that I waited until a month before to book my flights. Any concerns I had about Vegas not being able to replicate the vibes of last year’s summit in Milwaukee (and all the cheese curds) flew out the window the second I met Hannah, Kathleen, Libby, and Maddie in the lobby of the Linq Hotel at 5:00 am on a Saturday morning to frolic (yes frolic) toward the run pool meetup. 

Libby already mentioned the run pool, but I have to say that it was definitely the highlight of my trip as well. Every few blocks I had the chance to talk to someone from a new city or reconnect with people (shoutout to Lauren from Dallas) that I had met in Milwaukee. As we got closer to the workout we encountered fellow NP folks driving to the workout. It’s a good thing we were in a fairly commercial area – the nonstop honking and cheering from the folks in cars would have woken up even the deepest of sleepers.The five-ish miles to the workout flew by – I almost wish the workout had been farther from our hotel! Alas all good things, even Summit, have to come to an end at some point. At least there are only 317 days until next year’s Summit!

A group of about 40 people pose for a photo in front of a Welcome sign to Las Vegas.
Just a few of the NP members who took over Vegas.

Melani, aka MelRo, Robinson
Warning, negative content: When I first saw the announcement for #NPSummit I cursed a lot. My 30th birthday weekend in Vegas … this must be some kind of sick joke. That’s not the right environment, this doesn’t match NP, this won’t be fun but #verbal.

Flash forward to this past weekend and somewhere between a massive pool party, a hyped cheer station, and a loaded post-party, I made a realization: It doesn’t matter where we are — the infectious spirit of November Project will shine through. This spirit is what has kept me coming back for the last 4.5 years.

It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite moment because the whole weekend collectively was my favorite. If I had to pick one moment it would be at the party when Ryan, a new NP Denver friend, asked me, “Have you been publicly embarrassed for your birthday yet?” and then proceeded to gather a bunch of friends on the karaoke stage to sing happy birthday to me. This was special because it bridged the friendships I have made through this community. I loved being able to connect with all my friends I have made from several different cities. I can’t wait for summit next year in Minneapolis and Snow Globe in January to be able to reconnect again. 

Three women in matching green shirts and pink socks.
Matching outfits on point (thanks for the socks, Brooks!).

Maddie Greathouse
I’ve been a part of the NPDC family since August 2017, but it wasn’t until last year that I really rooted myself into the community it provides. I began to form friendships with people I met through NP that now exist beyond early morning burpees and logs. Summit this year was incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet and mingle with members of the other NP cities, but the moment that stands out foremost in my memories occurred during the post-workout panel discussion. 

One of the panelists talked about the energy and compassion that every NP’er brings to her city, and about the little efforts that make our community so close knit. She talked about how her closest friendships began with text message conversations initiated after only a 10-minute conversation at post-workout coffee. When I think about my past few years in DC, I realize that my closest friendships — NP or otherwise — are exactly the ones that began with ~eager~ messages asking someone I had just met at an NP workout to grab coffee or to go on a run. Without NP and the confidence it facilitates to reach out to new people, I would not have formed some of my closest friendships, and I certainly would not have come to call DC home.

Fin Gomez
I am a relatively new to November Project even though I have wanted to do it for a LONG time. I always thought the group was solely for the most elite of all runners and not for me, a middle of the pack runner and CrossFitter who is better at lifting weights than burpees. After (finally) attending for the last few months — my friend Ryan got me to go — I have realized that this is the absolute opposite of November Project. NP is about inclusivity, kindness to others, a collective enthusiasm for fitness, positivity and bluntly just simple fun. NP people have such a passion for life. It is intoxicating and is contagious. I love it!

Nothing has typified this experience more for me than attending Summit and the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas, a trip that my friends in NP encouraged me to attend. And even though I was initially a little hesitant to participate, I am so glad I went at the last second. The bounce alone at Las Vegas City Hall was simply one of the absolute dopest experiences I have ever had in my running career. And to meet so many people afterwards for coffee from all over the country was amazing. The race itself was one of the best half marathons I have ever run—LIT. We ran on the Vegas strip with over 30 thousand people! At night! And getting that boost from the NP cheer squad was undeniably one of my favorite moments.

Hundreds of people look at NP co-founder Bojan before the bounce.
Gettin’ ready to bounce.

Kathleen Ellsworth
This entire weekend was about community. It was people from all over the world coming together to share an experience unlike any other and have a downright good time. I could write an essay about all the things that went down this weekend, but if I had to focus on two, it would be Saturday’s workout and Sunday’s half marathon. 

Bright and early Saturday morning, we rolled up to Las Vegas City Hall after running 4.5 miles from the strip with 50 other NP members and were welcomed with smiles, high fives, and lots of burpees! My favorite part of the workout was definitely the bounce. There’s nothing better than jumping up and down to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” with hundreds of people who are just as hype as you. From that point on, I knew this weekend was going to be something special.

Then came Sunday’s half marathon – my first half marathon!!! Why I chose to run my first half in a city I’ve never been to and at night beats me, but it couldn’t have been more perfect. I ran most of the race with the DC crew and we couldn’t have had a better time. I was mentally prepared to get that boost of support from NP at the mile 9 cheer station, but was pleasantly surprised by all the NP people we ran into along the course. We were surprised by a mini cheer station from those that had just finished the 10K. We casually chatted with other NP members who were also running. NP took over this race and I truly felt all the support. Finally, we reached mile 9 and found the screaming, cow-bell ringing NP cheer station. It was full of hype and endless high-fives, and gave me the boost I needed to finish that last 4 miles. The only regret I have about running the half is that I didn’t get to be a part of the cheer station. NP has the best cheer stations. No doubt about it. Although I only experienced it for what felt like a few seconds, it was the best moment of this crazy, unforgettable weekend.

P.S. There were llamas at the NP after party. It was hilarious.

Six women sport new sunglasses in front of a sign promoting said sunglasses.
Thanks for the shades, Knockaround!
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