01 Jan Run headlong into New Year
The best New Year’s Eve I ever had, was spent running a road race. For those of you disinterested in late-night exercise, or cold weather, or any kind of New Year celebration that doesn’t involve corks popping at the stroke of midnight, allow me to explain The Midnight Run.
During the height of the first running boom, I had the great privilege of being a part of a fantastic group of people who loved to run called the Mine Mt. Rd. Department. It was a running club. But it was so much more. It was a group of friends, a family of sorts. The club began as a way of getting like-minded souls together on the roads of Bernardsville, NJ, and a way of gathering and supporting a team of junior runners through their Junior Olympic dreams and beyond.
We trained together. Raced together. Hung out and socialized together. And a few times each year, we’d all climb aboard a bus to travel together to share a unique running experience together.
Living the running boom
For several years in a row in the early 1980s, the club booked a charter bus to take between 40 and 50 of us into New York City for the New York Road Runners Club’s Midnight Run in Central Park. It’s a 4-mile race that famously starts and finishes outside Tavern on the Green at 11:59:59 so we can all run into the new year together.
Not everyone aboard the MMRD bus was a member of the club. We adopted new friends into the tribe regularly. Collegiate members invited roommates and teammates. Parents invited cousins and in-laws and friends. Occasionally, we just “took in strays” who had heard of us and wanted to join in the fun. It all made us stronger as a group, more interesting as individuals and created a welcoming environment of, honestly, joy in what we were doing together.
But back to beginning a New Year. It’s a time to think about time passing and achievements made in the past 12 months. Goals for the next 12 and beyond. So many of us view the New Year in terms of resolutions and so many of these good intentions are doomed to failure because resolutions are based in putting a stop to some “bad” behavior and revolutionizing into something new.
Fail upward – ever forward
Here at the Forge, we prefer to think in terms of goals. Good things to strive for. Big, audacious objectives and even if you fail, you’ve failed upward.
Goals give you a target on a map. A place to direct your efforts. Setting long-term, far-off goals allows you to set a vision and plot shorter-term, more achievable goals and key spots along your journey. Your shorter efforts build to create your larger goal.
Every year on New Year’s Eve on the roads of New York’s backyard, thousands of runners come out into the cold, many dressed in outrageous costumes, and run—some race, some jog, some just walk through the champagne stops—but they all come out to celebrate something. Not just an alcohol-drenched farewell to things just past, but an optimistic physical effort to launch things into the future.
Or what’s a heaven for?
As Robert Browning wrote, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” That’s all about setting goals seemingly beyond your ability.
And to my mind, that’s why my best New Year’s Eve memories are connected to The Midnight Run. It’s not a night of excess, it’s a night of pure celebration of what means something to these several thousand people. Connected directly to what they want to achieve in the future without any unnecessary wallowing in the past. Don’t be afraid of looking forward.
Step to the line with a tribe of fellow revelers and celebrate in the cold night air for four miles. Together.
To Auld Lang Syne, friends. Ever forward.