What Was Vegas? What Wasn’t Vegas? Where is Minneapolis?

When the promotion for the 2019 November Project Summit first began, many of the people in our global community scratched their heads in confusion. “I’m not going to Las Vegas that place is not my scene”. At the same time, many jumped right on in, thankful that it was in the west for the first time and they are huge fans of Las Vegas. Others were between these two camps. Either way, we knew this was going to be a different year for #NPSUMMIT for sure. For starters, we were transitioning from an all trail relay race we were known for completely taking over, to a race weekend with 30,000+ road runners that would likely gobble us up. But this is November Project, and nothing needs to make sense, as we need to keep changing & trying new things. Like it or love it, our 7th Annual #NPSUMMIT was unlike any of the previous gatherings that came before.

In every conversation with Brooks, Zappos, Westin, Knockaround, our Co-Leaders, and our team here at NP HQ, the constant challenge was simple; How do we make this experience MORE than the stereotypical Las Vegas that everyone thinks of? 

We trash talk each other all year, but I still very much love this guy. Selfishly, in these moments, we get to return to leading again, and it feels so fucking right. For those who are new, these dudes are Co-Founders BG (writing) & Bojan (right) giving announcements post workout on the steps of Las Vegas City Hall

The Saturday morning workout, that kicked off the whole weekend, took place around the futuristic, all-glass, Las Vegas City Hall. Under the massive forest of solar panels, our community gathered for the 6:29AM bounce lead by Bojan. From the sounds of bodies hitting the ground with perfect burpee form, enhanced by the upbeat music from both sound systems, and the endless flow of words of encouragement, you could close your eyes and feel that the storm of summit was finally here. We were all home… and I know it sounds cheesy, but this homecoming vibe of everyone getting to see each other once a year was strong, as it always is. After Laura’s burnout that closed the workout & kicked everyone’s ass, we came together to smile, laugh, sing birthday boating songs, and eventually load onto the 5 buses that took us… not to a Las Vegas strip buffet but to an oasis out at Lake Las Vegas. Working with Westin (for the 7th year in a row), we were able to have a giant calm space where we could connect, relax, socialize, and get some sunshine. The pool, the waterslide, the coffee & juice bar, and the space to meet new people were all part of the experience. We didn’t have to search the city for one another, we were all there in the same place.

Now, the panel was an idea created by our NP HQ team and Mr. #RunWestin himself, Chris Heuisler. The goal was to pull different levels of connection to NP and hear various perspectives on how NP influences people from near and far. The themes around how we got here, why this matters, and what makes these people tick, could all surface with the poolside conversation. Thinking back it actually sounds funny to say, we had a “thoughtful panel at our pool party,” both of which were new features to a #NPSUMMIT. 

The Westin Lake Las Vegas, post workout, pre-waterslides, coffee in hand. “The Airplane Mode Discussion,” Left to Right: Chris (Westin), Casey (former Seattle Co-Leader), Heather (Amsterdam member & Elvis World Record Holder, Jessica (Brooklyn Co-Leader), and Steve (Kelowna Co-Leader).

Saturday night was the 5K and the cheer station featuring a post-race Ke$ha concert. Sunday was the 10K, Half, and full marathon, along with the cheer station. And like the other choices made for the weekend, we wanted to make it our own, we wanted to make things memorable. Custom pink racing socks by our friends from Brooks on nearly ALL November Project racers made it easy to spot a fellow NP person long before seeing their #GrassrootsGear. The cheer station could have been on the iconic Strip or nearby one of the many bands that were jamming along the course. Instead we chose a non-descriptive street corner. With a little boost from Billy Eilish and a hundred+ enthusiastic high5-ers it was the most fun cheer station along the entire course (we admit, this is hard to fact check). 

The November Project Cheer Station on Sunday night at Mile 9 – Downtown Las Vegas

We made our way a few blocks away to the Sunday social, where all of the FUN was hosted by the Zappos Community team. Again, things at NP don’t really need to make sense, so we made sure our closing party had a couple of sister llamas (Dolly & Dotty), a dramatic karaoke stage, fire dancers, breakdance battlers, a DJ team, a futuristic Brooks shoe wagon experience, a retro pickup truck lounge, festive lights, multiple substance-free street art walking tours of Historic Fremont East, photo-tap technology throughout the party, and the indoor/outdoor options that let us spread out without disconnecting.

Finally, thanks to our friends from Brooks, who have their hands & feet in races all over the world, we were able to announce the location for 2020 #NPSUMMIT that last night. Mark this down: Minneapolis, at The Twin Cities Marathon, the weekend of October 3rd will be our gathering/reunion/homecoming. The events we’ll have our NP community race in will all be Saturday (5K, 10K) and we’ll support on Sunday for the marathon. You’re likely to have a zillion questions, but hold off for now, as we roll out info on accommodations, discounts, events, and where you’ll want to be in the new year. Plan on Friday through Monday being the stuff… the good stuff.

I will leave you with this…. an interesting stack of cultural questions: Do the people who happily jump on a plane to attend November Project Summit in Las Vegas tend to be less excited about a location like Minnesota? I’m going to be real honest folks, other than the 14 pumped characters in Vegas from NP Minneapolis that went nuts when we made the announcement, many more faces had that “where the fuck is Minnesota” look on their faces. With that in mind, do the folks who were not into Las Vegas as a destination, the ones who didn’t join us, get more excited about the Twin Cities, or were those voices likely to not join us no matter where the event was? Will Tanis Smith of Edmonton make it 8 years in a row without missing? Where will we have to move the event in order for Tanis to say, “fuck it, I’m not going there”? Will Jim Pathman & Co. make moves to have Team Hoyt SD brought into the mix to race again in the wheelchair event? Was that super inspiring to see? Wait, that wasn’t a question, that should have been: That was super inspiring (Side Note: Team Hoyt has never been able to join us at ‘summit because their racing chairs are designed for road only… so THAT seems like reason enough to stay urban in our choices for now. Ok, back to the question roll… Can we plan on October 2020 being our largest turnout of all time because this is the most time we’ve ever had leading up to our big annual gathering? Are we in the business of offering something that attempts to be everything to everyone? These are all just questions to get your wheels turning. For now, the only thing that’s constant is that nothing needs to makes sense at our NP gathering and we hope to see you next year in Minnesota where you can expect the unexpected. For those of you who did make the trip to Vegas, we thank you. It was an awesome time. And yes, we already know of a few llama farms just outside of Minneapolis. Stay tuned for more.

The Alley & The Bunkhouse Saloon – Powered by Zappos

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