Racing Around the Clock: Midnight Runners Sprint for Charity
Fundraising relay races are always inspiring, but what about a 10K every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours? That’s the novel idea behind Midnight2Midnight, an event where participants literally run from midnight to midnight past central London’s iconic sites, all in the name of charity.
Midnight Runners , the largest running club in Europe, dreamed up this 24-hour relay, which takes place once a year. The group, founded by two friends in 2015, includes athletes of all ages who escape the confines of the gym by running together outside a few times a week. While the group doesn’t usually take off at midnight, running under the stars and street lamps is the norm.
This year, London’s Midnight2Midnight kicks off on September 29th, and organizers hope it will be the biggest event yet.
Laura Ihry, an expat from North Dakota, serves as one of the event’s chairpeople and is well acquainted with the beauty of running through the streets and parks of London. Originally a sprinter, she transitioned to running long-distance as an adult. When Ihry moved to London in 2015, she joined Midnight Runners as a way to make friends and establish a routine in her new city.
“We’re a running group with a really unique format,” she says. “It’s all about using the city as our playground. We run around with speakers in our hands, and we do boot camp stuff throughout our runs, so you get mixed in with different people at the exercise stops. It’s really a community and all about having fun.”
It’s all about using the city as our playground.
The Midnight Runners started with weekly training runs, but the group quickly realized that they were capable of so much more.
Wanting to give back to the city they love, they organized the first Midnight2Midnight in 2015, a 24-hour urban running relay that follows the Midnight Runners philosophy: fun is more important than fast, and community is everything. Inspired by that approach, Reebok decided to partner with Midnight Runners and Midnight 2 Midnight to help spread the message.
“When you go to Midnight2Midnight, it's a totally different experience than most races,”says Ihry. “There’s such a community, and there’s a special kind of sparkle and excitement that’s everywhere when you're at the event. It’s so unique and encouraging.”
There’s such a community, and there’s a special kind of sparkle and excitement that’s everywhere when you're at the event. It’s so unique and encouraging.
Here’s how it works: when the clock strikes midnight, the first 10K starts. For every hour after that, another 10K begins, and another, and another, until it’s midnight again.
Runners can participate in just one run, or try to fit in as many kilometers as they can physically handle. People are running the whole time, and many participants end up running much farther than they signed up for.
“My first year, I signed up for 10K,” says Ihry. “But people kind of pulled me along for an extra couple of laps. I ended up running 30K that year just because I was so inspired. My second year I ran 50K, the most I’ve ever run in a single day.”
I ended up running 30K that year just because I was so inspired.
Whether runners complete 10K or 120K, their participation has had significant impact. In the last three years, Midnight2Midnight has raised over £25,000 for the Mayor’s Fund, a charity that works to empower young Londoners from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Much of the fundraising comes from donations, but as the event grows, more is coming from the group’s ticket sales. Last year, the event had 400 runners, almost double the number of participants from the year before.
“Running can be used as a catalyst for doing good,” says Ihry. “It's amazing to see that you can have a personal hobby and also use it to have such a positive impact your community. Running is a source of empowerment, and to be able to use the feelings we get from running to give back to the future of London, that’s incredibly gratifying.”
Running is a source of empowerment, and to be able to use the feelings we get from running to give back to the future of London, that’s incredibly gratifying.