Monday, April 13, 2009


I am a runner. As a runner, I run. I do not run for a cause. I do not do races in which raising money for a cause is part of the program. I would not join a Team In Training or other group which focuses on this aspect. It's not that I don't think it's worthwhile, but that's for a certain type of runner, and that's not me.

I like training and competing for me and only me. Call it selfish, I don't care. I make contributions to charities and will always lend a hand when I can.

But when you (not you, but "you") call me out because you think you're better than me, I have a serious problem with that and will no longer support your cause.

Back On My Feet is an organization that started in Philadelphia in the last few years. The backstory, in my biased opinion: a white girl decides that running around the mean streets of Philadelphia in the pre-dawn darkness by herself is a great idea. She then starts chatting with homeless guys and invites them to come run with her. The group was then formed in order to help those down and out "get back on their feet" by helping reincorporate them into society. Decent enough idea, not exactly sure how running accomplishes that but far be it from me to exclude anyone from the running community.

The news media starts to sweat this chick's nuts. A cute white girl helping poor, unfortunate homeless people - truly a feel good story. Unless she had been running by them and they murdered her. But that didn't happen.

Now the group comes to Baltimore, and a few months ago Arjun, Brennan, Dave Berdan and I attended their happy hour to kick off their efforts. It was a bunch of preppy looking white people, who looked like they were getting ready to be interviewed for grad school. And that's pretty much what it was. People who needed to feel better about themselves or boost their resumes for med school or grad school. One girl we met immediately spewed her resume on us, and was really annoying.

The premise of the group is that they meet early in the morning for approximately 1-2 miles of running, and I guess up in Philly some of the dudes got into half marathon shape. Pretty awesome. But I knew that, based on some of my other running commitments, I wouldn't be able to solidly say I could be there every time they run - and that somewhat defeats the purpose.

Another thing I noticed is that I didn't recognize any of the people at this happy hour. I have lived in Baltimore for almost 4 years and have been at or part of most every running event that has occurred (unless it was sponosred by Charm Shitty). I am terrible with names but good at remembering faces, and I had never seen any of these people. Brings the point of doing-it-for-the-resume back around.

I figured I would just leave it at that. I wouldn't do the group, but would promote it wherever I could. Until this week.

One of its members emailed Susan from FHR, one of the three of us who is in charge, and basically asked for our group's help. Keep in mind this was an unsolicited email. Susan did not reach out to him. He was asking for our help, to change our run or add runs in the morning, and also asked if we could help by bringing the homeless people into our jobs and introducing them to contacts, etc. Like fuck that shit, someone take ME into your job and introduce me, right?

Anyway, Susan forwards to me and James, and asks our opinion. I said to respond with a simple message, inviting them to come speak briefly at our group and certainly if anyone within the Fed Hill Run group wanted to do it, they could get more information on their own. It would not be something I would force upon the group.

She writes back to the guy, and probably could have worded it slightly differently, but she was stressing the importance of keeping it brief - citing that everyone in our group is coming to run and dressed to run, and since it's not warm lately and everyone has ADD to begin, it would have to be kept under a minute.

What the guy did in response was a bitch move, something a homo rapper would do - he copies in his "boss" (Anne Mahlum, the woman that started the group) and calls us out. HARD.

"Susan, I don't think this is a good fit, as it sounds like your group is pretty focused on running and doesn't really do charitable type efforts. If any individuals are interested, you can have them contact me or Anne Mahlum, who founded and runs the organization, for more information. When Cathy Strodel made the introduction, I mistakenly assumed your group had charitable inclinations. Sorry for any hassle."

FUCK YOU, first of all.

You don't think this is a good fit? Well you solicited us, not the other way around. We never said it was.

We're focused on running? No shit, we're a running group. And fuck you for thinking you're better than us. We do "charitable type efforts," just not your stupid shitty one.

Nobody is going to want more information because neither Susan, James nor myself will ever mention your group's name again.

This guy is enemy #1 on my list right now for being such a douchebag. I have been involved in many good things involving running and Baltimore in my time here, who the fuck do you think you are coming off talking to me and my group like that? Fed Hill Runners, which has met on Mondays at 6:30pm for nearly 5 years without ever missing a week, is a Baltimore running staple. We even invited people from YOUR group to introduce themselves at a meeting in January.

The difference is that BOMF is a group of social fucktards that wants to feel better about themselves by pretending to help others, even though the satisfaction really comes in feeling better about themselves. They show up to run with homeless people, then when the homeless people go back to being cold and hungry, they scurry off to their jobs and warm apartments.

Fed Hill Runners is a running group that runs. Where we can we promote worthy causes. If I let every person or group that emails me each week come talk to the group, I would lose credibility within the group and also deviate from my core business, which is running. I don't care if it makes me sound callous, that's just the truth.

So while I will not go on a rampage and badmouth this organization which I'm sure has helped one or two people, despite having what seems to be an army of med school rejects at its disposal, I will never again promote this. It was a stupid fucking idea in the first place and the girl is lucky she didn't end up dead in a gutter.


Ben said...

I haven't heard/read a good ryan mcgrath rant in awhile :)

now - let me play devil's advocate for a second. e-mail is a dangerous thing, especially when the same content can be interpreted in different ways. maybe he actually does think that it's ok to have a running group focused on running and not on charities - or maybe he was being a prick. i understand that you might have picked up on a vibe at the happy hour that led you to determine that it was mostly likely the latter - but, who knows?

I do agree that running & charities have somehow become too intertwined. people automatically assume that you're running for some cause - when isn't staying fit a good enough cause?

Senior_Slug said...

Ryan, Ryan, Ryan -- You hit the nail on the head. I can guarantee too that if you knocked yourself out and helped them they would never reciprocate. That they would have moved on to another cause in the mean time. It's a shame too because I think that those of the homeless that would be saved by running would understand how it works. Unless they took running seriously and knew that they would have to play by the real runners rules then running wouldn't work them. But if you wanted a feel good human interest story that padded your resume the more runners you line up the better it looks on TV.

Bruzer said...

We've already adopted a poor Kenyan boy and raised him as our own. What the fuck else do they want us to do?

fbg said...

I just had a brilliant idea.

It's sort of like Bum Fights, except the guys race for prizes, like a night's stay at a hotel, Chipotle gift certificates, or not getting thrown into the harbor.

fbg said...

Oh wait, I forgot I was into "charitable type efforts".

And by the way--I know whis will sound arrogant, snobby, and elitist--but I can tell from the email excerpt that the guy is partly a moron. It reads like he's trying to write a formal response explaining the misunderstanding, and then he throws in words like "pretty" and "really" to play innocent, all the while composing phrases like "charitable type efforts" to make us/you feel bad for not giving him the stage/soapbox he wants.

I agree with Ben, though, too. When read in a different light, the guy can seem like he's just doing his job. It's too bad that the guy with this job doesn't understand the power of language, and isn't aware that "charity" is not always the free ticket to everywhere he wants to go.

Elf, you hinted at this, but perhaps there's some more 'splainin' to do: how did Susan's email sound?

And one more thing (I keep thinking of them): isn't asking if some of our people can take homeless dudes/chicks to their place of work seem a little like hatching your chickens before you have eggs (in the barn/haystack)? I mean, why don't they just check the box next "looking for: networking" on their Facebook accounts?

RM said...

You guys are all right - two years from now will BOMF be around as an organization thriving in Baltimore? Hard to tell. But I'm pretty sure Fed Hill Runners will still be here. I don't want to alienate our core group of people. Plus, I really do believe there are many other truly worthy causes. If one homeless person can get on the right track, I guess that's a win, but sometimes you have to weigh the costs and I'd rather try and fight cancer than try and make someone run.

Crazy to see Joel Brusewitz posting on here!

And since I often play Devil's Advocate to you guys, I respect your doing so - but I really believe that this guy was just being a jerk. If I didn't feel he was, I don't think I would have been so angered over it. I have already done quite a bit for the group, and don't take kindly to people calling me out.

Susan's email was something along these lines:

"Arsh, this is not something we can institute as a group. We invite you to come talk to the group, but before you come you should know the rules. You will need to keep your talk to a minute, as our runners come dressed ready to run and have very short attention spans. I cannot stress that you MUST keep it to 60 seconds. If people want to get additional information from you, they can talk to you on their own. If this rule is okay, we have no problem with you stopping by."

And keep in mind, I had already put stuff in the newsletter, and they already had two girls come talk to us back on January 26. So it's not like everyone in the group hasn't heard it a few times.

OJ said...

I agree, I am not a fan of this shit, especially when they make you feel bad for not helping.

alyssa said...

Homeless people come into the bank all the time but they are not looking for jay oh bees, that's fo sho.

Nads&Jens-CrazyTop10s said...

I loved everything about this post, right down to the bad fucking words! What a pisshole, pommie bastard. I think it's terrific that you run/swim/race for yourself and it only takes confidence to say so. Not everything has to be so fucking integrated. Why do people make up cooking recipes? Because they like to. Why do people garden, watch movies, follow sports, play the guitar...? Because they freaking enjoy it for its own purpose. You can be a charitable person in a different regard! Those uppity bitch lickers can take their glide nipple cream and camelback totebags and half-marathon their way to hell.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone! Bloody judgemental wonker.

David said...

Slightly off-topic, but related . . . Last year, when I finished second in the "20 in 24" Lone Ranger division (a BOMF production), with 111 miles in 24 hours, my prize was . . . $75. The entry fee for the race was $150.

This year, the "20 in 24" is "sold out," but they will consider letting 20 more people run it, if they are willing to pay $500 (that is not a typo).

(Judge as you see fit; these are just facts.)