Go Far Run Group

Shoe Drive 2015

It’s hard to believe this whole venture started out with cleaning out my closet last Spring. A couple old pairs of running shoes has turned into collecting and donating over 1,300 pairs shoes in three donation drives over two years – it’s been a pretty remarkable journey!

For those of you who are new to Go Far, our merry band of runners have been giving back to the (running) community in various ways over the last four years – from volunteering at races to helping out at the Giving Tree each Christmas. Last year, while doing some Spring Cleaning, I realized that I had a couple pairs of shoes that were on their last miles, but didn’t want to just throw them out. I figured there was a place for them – either recycling or donated – and guessed with a group the size of ours, we would probably have a bunch of runners looking to get rid of shoes, as well. Why throw them away? There had to be a better way. That Spring, I did some research to find an organization that would take our used shoes. My main criteria was that the shoes should go to a worthy running-related cause. I soon found a non-profit organization that took old shoes (new and used) and sent them to runners around the world in need of shoes: One World Running. I got in touch with the organization’s founder and soon started the experiment – a call to action within the group to collect new and used shoes along with running apparel, and our first collection event at Brazen Racing’s Badger Cove race. The turnout was phenomenal – over 200 pairs of shoes were donated in that first drive. We decided to give it another go in the Winter last year. This time we expanded to three Brazen races: Nitro Turkey, Quarry Turkey, and Summit Rock. In just over a month and a half, we were able to collect over 300 pairs of shoes for California Runners, a local charity giving back to the running community. Since most folks don’t go through that many pairs of shoes in half a year, we decided to slow down the pace and make this an annual event starting this year!

As you’ve all heard by now, our charity this year has been Mission Atletica – a wonderful organization founded by Edgar Hernandez that brings shoes and road races to the youth of Guatemala. Mission Atletica has been around since 2003 and has since collected over 2,500 pairs of shoes. No shoes go to waste with this organization – any shoes that are deemed unusable are either donated to other charities or sent to Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program to be turned into turf materials for track and playgrounds. Recently, Mission Atletica has also started to sponsor races in Guatemala adding purpose to passion.

My goal this year was to break last year’s total from our two drives – a combined 520 pairs of shoes. I decided to pick a few additional races this year to try to hit that goal. Go Far has been growing a lot in the past couple years and our actions have been noticed. After last year’s drive, I was actually contacted by the San Jose Turkey Trot organizers to help collect at a smaller race, but unfortunately had to decline since we weren’t running a drive. They were the first folks I contacted as this drive began and we were given the opportunity to collect during their bib pickups and race day! Additionally, I was able to get help again from the great folks at Brazen Racing to let us do drives at Mt Diablo and Summit Rock. We rounded things out with another race – the Berkeley Half Marathon, where we were able to pick up shoes during bib pickup. This was the first time we were collecting shoes at so many places and we were able to get some AWESOME Go Farians to volunteer their time to collect shoes during the events. A HUGE shout out goes to our volunteers:
– Michael Toan
– Paulette Ference
– John Fabbro
– Lenny Dumo
– Liat Zavodivker
– Carol Dennis
– Ellen Lee
– Scott Quiles
– Marcia Duong
– Meghan Newell

Thanks so much for braving the elements (the Turkey Trot pickups were outside during some of the coldest days in November!), chatting up our charity and Go Far, and collecting and loading all those shoes.

In the end, we collected an AMAZING number of shoes, along with some apparel and gear that will all go to a great cause. By the numbers:

792 pairs of shoes
443 running tops
90 running bottoms
89 pieces of gear ranging from water bottles and fuel belts to sports bras and back packs

Ever wonder what that looks like? Here’s some of our shoes in Edgar’s warehouse:

Shoes at Mission Atletica Warehouse

Shoes at Mission Atletica Warehouse

The majority of our shoes came from collections at races – another huge thanks goes to the organizers of the Berkeley Half, San Jose Turkey Trot, and Brazen Racing! That said, us Go Farians did pretty well, too. If you’re curious, Go Farians alone were able to contribute 101 pairs of shoes, 59 tops, 13 bottoms, and 48 pieces of gear!

Edgar will be shipping out the shoes in March and is expecting to put on another sponsored race in 2016 using the shoes we helped donate. I’ll be posting pictures when we hear more!

Thanks again so much for everyone’s contributions and help! This has been a great opportunity to get our group’s name out there and show that we can give back to the larger community. Looking forward to helping another great organization and busting a new goal in 2016!