By Delmont Jones
On Sept. 7, 2013, I participated in my first 5K (3.1-mile) race. I signed up after being persuaded by my younger sister, who was assisting with promoting the event. My performance in the race wasn’t anything newsworthy, but I had fun and was definitely bitten by the bug of running an organized race.
About a month later, a friend from high school—Scott Stader—saw my Facebook post about the 5K race. He invited me to join a Facebook group he had created called RUN365. While the group is quite diverse, the one common thread is running. The group’s name is inspired by a unique segment of runners who (for some odd reason) decide to run at least a mile every day for the entire year. These folks are known as “run streakers” or, simply, “streakers.”
When I first became a member of RUN365, I was fascinated with how supportive everyone was to their fellow runners. It didn’t matter if runners were posting slow or fast runs, running a mile or an ultramarathon, or if they were rookies or veterans. Everyone rallied around their peers. I soon found out that this type of encouragement and support was not unique to RUN365. The running community as a whole seemed to have this type of culture woven into its very fabric. And I fell in love with it.
I ran a few more 5K races in 2013 and early 2014. The races’ atmospheres and the challenge of improving my best time were exhilarating. All the while, Scott encouraged me to train for a half marathon (13.1 miles). Quite frankly, I was not interested. Running just over 3 miles in a 5K was a tall enough task for me. The thought of adding 10 miles on top of that was something that seemed beyond my capability. Or, at least, well outside my comfort zone.
Jan. 1, 2015: That day I started my run streak of running at least a mile a day. I didn’t start alone. I had virtual teammates, who I met through RUN365, and we all encouraged each other through daily Facebook and Instagram posts. There were ups and downs, but we did it—365 straight days.
In 2016, I decided to sign up for a half marathon. Day 703 of my streak, I crossed the finish line of the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, which raises money for children receiving treatment at St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital. I ran the same half marathon again in 2017, on Day 1,067 of my run streak. I hope to run it again later this year. During the past six years, RUN365 has raised $210,000 for St. Judes.
I’m not a very fast runner. I don’t run a very impressive volume of miles. But I’m glad that my daily running effort has raised awareness and funds for the children of St. Judes.
Follow Delmont Jones’ (Knoxville ’97) running journey at instagram.com/running615 and learn how to support St. Jude at stjude.org. He is a recruiting manager for the Ettain Group and serves as treasurer of the UT Alumni Association.