Monthly Archives: May 2017

Pacers and SHEroes

So just to recap what happened in the first 48 hours of Breaking2, we ran a 300-person relay in Piazza Duomo, got inspired by Coach Bennett every time he had the mic, watched the Breaking2 attempt trackside, and ran a 5K on the exact same course – all while getting to mingle with some of the greatest runners across the globe. Pretty epic.

Well, Sunday morning comes around and we were all grateful for a morning when we didn’t have anything scheduled until 10:00am. Kate and I are still trying to stay warm in our sleeping bags when all of a sudden this beautiful violin music starts to play. Talk about the best alarm clock ever – and even though it was earlier than I think anyone was planning on waking up, the sheer beauty of the music made up for it. Then Kate said, “I think that music is live!” Admittedly, I doubted her in the beginning, but then the more we listened, the more feasible it seemed. We finally looked out the tent door, and sure enough, there was a LIVE violinist playing or the whole camp.


Running with Breaking2 Pacers – Coach Bennett then told us that the Breaking2 Pacers were going on a shakeout run with us. He gave a pretty inspiring speech about the critical role the pacers played in the attempt the day before (my thoughts on that will be in my next blog post) and then they joined us at camp. After running their hearts out the previous day and spending most of the day after the attempt celebrating, they woke up early to run with us. They showed up with so much joy and energy, it was contagious. You’ll note in the photos their joy and excitement. The shakeout run ended up being about 6km, but the highlight is that every 400 meters, they would stop and dance. It was more like a shakeout party with some running thrown in. Have a look at these photos captured by @marekogien:

pacer entrance marek


pacer closeup marek

pacer profile marek

front of the pack marek

pacer crew marekpacer group run marek

dancing duo marek

kid in play pacers marek

pacer crew run marek

dance circle marek

smiley pacer marek

big desk pacer marekmoo with pacers marek

shirtless pacer marek

excited pacer marekgroup shot with pacers marek

Long Run with Shalane Flanagan – A few hours after the Pacer Party, we went on a long run with Shalane Flanagan! We had a choice of a 30, 60 or 90-minute run. It was the run with the best weather and some sweet views en route to Milan.


PC: @maxmenning


PC: @maxmenning


PC: @maxmenning


PC: @maxmenning

shalane long run

PC: @marekogien

caleb and ilario jumping marek

PC: @marekogien

long run group shot

PC: @marekogien


PC: @maxmenning

Meeting Allyson Felix! I have always admired Allyson Felix, so you can imagine my surprise when they asked if I would be willing to show her around camp and film an Instagram story for Airbnb! We filmed the story (it took a few takes to get it right) and then I got to hang out one-on-one with Allyson – we talked about everything from running, to elementary education, to being an athlete in college. I was completely starstruck while simultaneously impressed with how down to earth she is. We actually had a TON of fun filming the story even though I was nervous about messing up in front of my shero! Here are some screen shots from the final Insta story that Airbnb posted:

Thanks to @fredgoris for capturing these candids during the shoot:



And thanks to Allyson Felix for her time – it is a day I will never forget!


Campfire with SHEroes! As if the day hadn’t been EPIC enough, we had dinner and a Campfire talk with Joan Benoit Samuelson, Shalane Flanagan, and Allyson Felix. So much power, speed and awesomeness all on one stage, hosted by Coach Becs. The stories and advice they shared inspired everyone at camp.


PC: @maxmenning


PC: @pimrinkes

MaxMenning-CampfireTalk-9 (1)

PC: @maxmenning




PC: @pimrinkes

Monday morning yoga: Of course any good running event always has some sort of yoga element. So our last morning together, there was a yoga session led by Isabelle Fuhrman. Great way to stretch out and reflect on the whole experience! (PC: @pimrinkes)








And that wraps up the “epic events” recap of the trip. Still so many thoughts running through my head that I want to share – but that’s for the next post. Thanks for reading!

Witnessing History & Running an EPIC 5K!

B2 nighttime

                                                                                                                                                 PC: @tomschlegel

Nothing quite like a 3:30am wake up call when got to bed at midnight and hadn’t slept much the previous 24 hours. But once we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes, we were nothing by amped to go watch THE event – the reason why we were all there in the first place! It was a short walk from the campsite to the entrance to the track and getting to witness literally everything that was going on, caused all of us to get hyped about it all. It was still dark but the track was lit up with blue and red lights and signs everywhere. While we weren’t even running, you could sense the nervousness from everyone, and we all knew that no matter the outcome, we were about to witness history.


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

barrier 2 marekbarrier marekIMG_0321


There we were, part of the live event while the television show was hosted by Sal Masekela with commentary provided by Paula Radcliffe, Craig Masback, Kevin Hart and Shalane Flanagan. All spectators were gathered by the finish line holding signs and leaning right up against the barriers not wanting to miss any of the action. It’s hard to describe what it was like to watch this historic event, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

morning marek

                                                                                                                                                     PC: marekogien


                                                                                                                                                     PC: marekogien

action marek

                                                                                                                                                     PC: marekogien


                                                                                                                                                           PC: @airbnb

josh dun marek

                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

Lelisa by Melo

                                                                                                                                                              PC: @Melo

eliud with pacers

                                                                                                                                                     PC: marekogien


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

Hart interview Tom

                                                                                                                                                 PC: @tomschlegel


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

eliud finish

B2 clock - gautier

And then the celebration began!!


                                                                                                                                                  PC: maxmenning


                                                                                                                                                  PC: maxmenning

eliud laying down

eliud by cory

                                                                                                                               PC: @corywhartonmalcolm


                                                                                                                                                  PC: maxmenning


pacer MaxMenning



pacers gautier

                                                                                                                                          PC: @gautierpellegrin


eliud lifted up cory

                                                                                         PC: @corywhartonmalcolm

the champ marek

                                                                                                                                                     PC: marekogien

final 3 marek

                                                                                                                                                     PC: marekogien

I’m still processing all the thoughts in my head about what happened during that 2 hours and 25 seconds, but they will be shared during another reflection post that is brewing in my mind right now.


After witnessing history, we walked back to camp for some breakfast and to reflect on what we all just watched. Despite most of us running on fumes, the buzz of excitement was palpable in the air. I think it’s fair to say we were all hoping for a nap. But then Cory gets on the mic and announces…


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

That we were going to run a 5K – ON THE MONZA TRACK – the place we just watched the fastest marathon run EVER. “Don’t eat too much – you’re going to run very soon!” As if the excitement of that wasn’t enough, when we went back to our tents, we had some surprises waiting for us – a full running kit!

running kit - claire

                                                                                                                                               PC: @clairemueller

Even though we were just at the track a few hours prior, arriving this time felt different – maybe because we were ACTUALLY ON THE TRACK this time!


Same race car used during Breaking2 paced us for the 5K!                                           PC: @pimrinkes





                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes


                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes

As we ran along the exact course that the world’s greatest runners had just run on a few hours before, the pure joy of being there was evident on all of our paces. You could feel the speed of the track and you knew you were on sacred ground.


                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes


                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes


                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes

After I cross the finish line I went back and realized that I crossed the EXACT same finish line that Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese, and Lelisa Desisa had crossed the same morning. To say I was humbled wouldn’t even be close to accurate.


Definitely THE most epic 5K I’ve ever run and one I will NEVER forget. The energy, the support, the pure joy of running, the desire to find our own “breaking2 moment” – just looking through the photos brings me back to this run. I am so grateful I got to run it with this amazing group!


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

Traveling to and Day 1 of #Breaking2

Traveling from Boston to Milan This adventure began on the evening of May 4, when I arrived at the Boston Airport. My flight was supposed to leave at 5:20pm and arrive at JFK by 7:00pm, allowing plenty of time to catch my 10:20pm flight to Milan. But because traveling isn’t stressful enough, the President decided to visit NYC the same evening, causing all air space to be cleared for hours before and after his arrival and departure, so all flights in/out of NYC were put on hold. The hours kept ticking away and it got to the point where I wasn’t even sure if I’d get to JFK on time. Huge props to Kate at Nike who literally worked tirelessly and kept in touch to ensure that she would get me to Milan. My favorite text was, “I WILL NOT REST UNTIL YOU ARE ON A PLANE TO MILAN” and she really meant it! Fortunately, the flight landed in time for me walk to the correct terminal and arrive just as the flight was starting to board. That is also where I met fellow Airbnb contest winners, Caleb Duquense from New Orleans and Ryan Shaffer (goes by Shaffer) from NYC. (NRC Toronto Pacer Eric was also on our flight)

JFK airport

We then proceeded the biggest plane I’d ever flown on. When I traveled to Ghana we were on a big plane, but this one was two floors and even the coach seats were quite spacious. I’d like to say the flight went without any incident, but unfortunately I got violently ill a few hours in. After puking my guts out, I returned to my seat where I suffered through an hour of a raging headache, before falling asleep for a few hours and woke up feeling much better.

We landed in Milan, and after breezing through customs, met our driver as well as two other contest winners – one from Korea and one from Taiwan.

Milan airport

We then started the drive out to Monza and for parts of the drive the Alps provided an an incredible backdrop. We finally arrived at Parco di Monza where Nike and Airbnb had literally built Breaking2 Camp.

camp opening

me against fence

I stayed in yurt 25 with my awesome tentmate Kate, from the UK.

yurt outside

yurt inside


Here are some photos of what the rec area of the camp looked like:

rec area


Breaking2 Together – Not long after we arrived, our first event was announced – “Breaking2 Together” a 300+ person relay in Piazza Duomo. Nike built a 42-meter track in the middle of the square:


42 meter track

piazza duomo skillyx

                                                                                                                                                         PC: @xskillyx

duomo skilly

                                                                                                                                                     PC: @xskillyx

They decked us out in  #Breaking2Together shirts and the new Nike Pegasus shoes:

B2together squad


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


This event was hosted by Carl Lewis & Kevin Hart (who ran the very first and last legs of the whole relay)

Lewis and Hart

                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

Runners were put on teams and each member of every team ran the track 3 times, for a total mileage of a marathon with the ultimate goal seeing if together we could break 2 hours for a marathon.

team bibs SKILLY_

                                                                                                                                                         PC: @xskillyx


                                                                                                                                                         PC: @xskillyx


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

Ilario MaxMenning

                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

caleb relay SKILLY

                                                                                                                                                         PC: @xskillyx

team white PIM

                                                                                                                                                     PC: @pimrinkes




                                                                                                                                                         PC: @xskillyx

There was also DOPE live band during the whole relay.

violin MaxMenning

                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

B2T band

                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning


                                                                                                                                               PC: @maxmenning

Some of us wandered around the city centre after we ran and that’s when I got to learn about some awesome running crews in eastern Europe including Belgrade, Zagreb & Warsaw. It was fascinating to hear about how these crews are striving to #bridgethegap through urban running crews. Some of my favorite photos (taken by the talented @marekogien) are from our unintentional walking tour of Milan that night:

Friday night 2

friday night

We got to back to camp quite late – ate dinner around 11:15pm – and that was when we were told that our wake up call would be at 3:30am. A majority of us were already running on fumes and adrenaline but the buzz and excitement of Breaking2 was on the forefront of our minds and Coach Bennett reminded us that it was our responsibility to go out and support these runners and pacers. It was the only evening of the trip in which everyone went to bed without much fanfare.

That time I won this thing…

Mile 20 one

A little background on me: If you had asked me just 5 years ago that I would become a runner, I would have probably laughed in your face! I would have said, “I’m a swimmer, not a runner…I don’t do well on land.” And yet, here I am, someone who over a few short years has run 4 marathons, countless other races, and can finally call herself a runner. It’s been quite a journey, and to say that running has changed me would be a huge understatement. Now that I’ve been in it for a few years, I can’t imagine my life without running.


Nike’s Breaking2 Project  Nike has been working on an audacious goal: enable a sub 2-hour marathon time. To help achieve this, Nike has been working with a diverse team of leaders across several fields of science and sport with a holistic approach to athletes, product, training, nutrition and environment. It is summed up best in an article that Nike published in December: “Breaking2 provides an opportunity to explore whether the impossible is within reach. It is the ultimate embodiment of Nike’s mission: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete on the planet.”

The attempt features star runners Lelisa Desisa, Zersenay Tadese, and Eliud Kipchoge


And will take place at the Formula One track in Monza, Italy. (More info can be found here.)


Nike teamed up with Airbnb and held a contest in April for a chance to win a trip to go and witness the Breaking2 attempt in person. Along with the usual info needed to enter a contest, entrants had to answer the question, “Why do you run?” This is a question I get asked often, especially since I am still relatively new to running. Most people who know me already know the answer, but for those of you who may not know, I started running to fulfill a promise I made to one of my former students – that when he turned 18, we would run our first marathon. My student was Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombings, and I knew I had to complete the pact we made. I shared a bit of my story for this contest, knowing that everyone who entered had a story to tell.

I’M GOING TO BREAKING2 IN ITALY! When I enter contests, I never go into them thinking I’m going to win, or that I even deserve to win. So you can imagine the shock I felt when I received an email saying I had won this contest! I had to re-read the email a few times because I couldn’t quite believe that it was real. When it finally settled in that this was really happening, I was blown away. I just kept thinking to myself, “Me? Really?” And then I got the confirmation email, and flight/lodging info and then it hit me that I am going to Milan, Italy. I am thrilled and beyond excited for this incredible opportunity! I hope to post updates here while I’m gone, but if for some reason I have trouble connecting to the internet while I’m gone, I will definitely be sharing my experience when I return. Here’s hoping I get to witness history in a few days!

pace car