Runners World Festivities Recap

The Runners World Festival is one of my favorite weekends of the year.  I was lucky enough to participate in both 2015 and 2016 too.  Every year as I leave, I drive up the steep hill out of Bethlehem thinking: “Could this have been any more fun?” and it’s surprised me each time.

The short version recap is: I had, even more, fun in 2017, how that is possible, I’m not sure.

I was able to participate again as an influencer.  As an influencer, we arrived in Bethlehem the Thursday before, and receive a tour of Runners World and dinner with the editors.

The Runner’s World Organic Café has delicious food and to be honest if I worked there, I don’t know if I would ever come home with a paycheck because I would eat there all of the time.

Runners World Festival
We made salad bowls with grilled chicken, green goddess dressing, and roasted vegetables.

Friday was jam-packed, and we were out of the hotel at 6:45 am.  Typically, I’m running at home by then.  We did a shakeout run with a good friend Suzanne and Ryan Hall.  It was about 30 minutes, relaxed and I didn’t even bring a watch.  We stopped and took a photo with the sun.

Runners World Festival
Photo Credit Marty D.

After that, we met at the Steelstacks and the Altra founder: Golden Harper gave us a briefing on how Altra came to be.  He described creating the first Altra shoes in his toaster oven and how the term “zero drop” came about.  It’s a fascinating seminar, and if you ever get the chance to hear from him personally, I highly recommend it.

Runners World Festival Altra Clinic

As someone who works in a running store, I nerd out to it anyway, but Altra shoes are unique in many different ways.  They are foot shaped and allow the toes to spread out as feet naturally do and are balanced front to back with the same amount of cushion in the front of the shoe as well as the back.  You can read my recent review of the Altra Escalante here.

After that, Golden gave us a clinic on form and running more efficiently.  It’s always a useful clinic and a few of his tips such as a higher arm swing has helped me throughout racing.

After that, we had lunch and listened to the Mayor Running, himself, Bart Yasso discussed his new book Race Everything.

Bart is retiring after 30 years, and it is always such a treat to have him talk to us and listen to his stories.  He gave a powerful speech about various times he has connected with people and it made me tear up.  You never know how you are influencing someone.

Finally, we checked out the expo and picked up our bibs.  I always appreciate the unique and smaller companies at Runners World.  This year anyone doing the hat trick 5k/10k/13.1 received a hat, and anyone doing the Grand Slam 3.8 trail race/5k/10k/13.1 received a nice backpack.

Influencers were also given a tote bag filled with goodies such as socks and fun gear.  They even gave us a free one to give to readers.  All you have to do is comment with someone that has influenced or inspired you and why.  Winner will be chosen over the weekend and announced Monday.

After that, we prepared for the weekend of races. I left Friday feeling inspired by meeting so many different bloggers and Runners World Editors.

I’ll recap both the 5k and the 13.1 in the following days.


  1. I’m not even sure how to narrow down how one person has influenced my life – but I think if I can choose just one that continues to influence all aspects of my life, it would my SO. We’ve been together for about 5 /12 years and spent the past year and half being long distance and yet he still influences me in how I work, keep active, and overall be a better person.

  2. That sounds like an awesome weekend of immersion in running.

    Obviously you inspire me in running because you are also a swimmer turned runner.

    1. Ha and then I never got into the pool again. You inspire me Victoria between your work, sportz, and life. Maybe one day we can do another race together

  3. So awesome, Hollie! It sounds like a great experience and one that continually tops itself.

    As for someone who’s inspired me, I’d say my bff, Victoria. Watching her complete her first marathon (Philly 2010) is what inspired me to start running and she is always my go-to person when I need a sounding board or pep talk. I’m beyond grateful for her!

  4. I only live about an hour and a half from there, but still haven’t participated! Maybe next year. Sounds fun.

    My mom inspires me! We started running around the same time (2010), and even though we don’t live in the same town, we still kept with it. Earlier this month, she set a 5K PR, running 24:37 at age 57! I am so proud of her.

  5. I’m super inspired by my big brother. He is an incredible athlete, whether he’s nordic skiing, hiking, or running ultras. He’s been there for everything from my first 10 mile run to my first full marathon–and soon my first Boston!

  6. Ahh sounds like so much fun. This race weekend is on my bucket list once I get out of college. I’m definitely inspired by my mom. She just recently got back into fitness after a 20 year hiatus and completed a half Ironman last year at the age of 55. She’s amazing!

  7. I’m really inspired by the preacher John Piper (, because not only does he love Jesus more than anything, he is filled so much joy in the Lord. I want to be like him when I’m 70! He’s also been running for 50 years and still runs 12 minute miles now to keep from getting fat, depressed, and because he doesn’t want to die yet (his words!). He is an awesome example of what it looks like to be a true Christian, born again because of God raising him from the dead (spiritually speaking).

  8. FUN!! I laughed when I saw you were hanging with the Halls given our chats (and “drama”) about them. But each year I see bloggers go and I get jealous – it looks so fun! Maybe one of these years I’ll make it there.

    In terms of inspiration, it’s really just the average people — the ones who get up, work out, go to work, take care of their own stuff (families, etc) and throw down at races on the weekend. So people like you!! They do it because they want to and because they love it, and I respect that!

    1. Next year, let’s go on a date there. You would love it…plus think of all the new diners we could go too 😬

  9. if I’m being 💯 honest, the person who inspired me to become a better person was myself.
    I found myself crying and looking in the mirror one day after a tough relationship breakup, & told myself…
    “this isn’t you. the person he made you isn’t who you are or want to be. BECOME who you want. be proud of YOU.”
    after that, & meeting new friends, I discovered working out and running (what I once did) cake back into my life and inspired me daily.
    I get the thrill of happiness every day I see improvements or feel stronger…that keeps me going!
    4 years later I am a new person who has found her calling.
    & I am so happy that terrible past happened, it made me who I am today.☺️

  10. My friend Joe is a person who has really influenced me and had a positive impact on my life. During a year when I was having some medical issues, he drove me to work every day and everywhere else I needed to go. He literally spent hundreds of hours helping me out and every single day he made me feel like there was nothing else he’d rather be doing with his time. I have always tried to treat people the way he treated me. I have never felt so loved.

    Also, I love, love, love altra running shoes! The escalate are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever put on.

  11. One of my biggest inspirations is my good pal, and the co-leader of City Fit Girls, Kiera Smalls (she’s in the first group photo above, kneeling in the front with the CFG sweatshirt on!). She works hard, encourages EVERYONE, and is generally just a delight to be around. I am thankful for her!

  12. My father continues to be my runnin inspiration. He didn’t start running until he was in his 50s and has since finished a number of half marathons! He inspired me to start running and I signed up to run my first 10k with him!!

  13. Some of my biggest influences are the women on my racing team who work, have children and still find tI’m to crush their runs! They all have PRs that I aspire to reach someday and I hope I can do as good of a job balancing work, kids and running when I reach that point in my life!

  14. Aw what a great experience! I have actually read your previous reviews of this race! More fun? Must have been a good time!

    I would say my sister has been my biggest influence in my life. She was diagnosed with a rare disease and will never run again. I run for her!

  15. I love Bart! I remember I wrote him a letter as part of a class project and then I had surgery on my legs and reached out to him again and he signed one of his books and mailed it to me. That was so warm and fuzzy. Honestly, it’s been so hard for me to get out there and run again, but just checking social media and seeing running posts helps motivate me out the door. I think that’s one of the positives of social media that I appreciate. It’s not the paces, distances or where someone has ran, it’s just the enjoyment they are having or the accomplishment they had after the run that make me want to feel the same or remind me of that feeling. So awesome to follow your trip and great job with those second place finishes and this opportunity to win this bag!!! Eeeeek!!!

  16. I have been inspired by Gelcys aka Runner Unleashed on social media. She has scoliosis, fibromyalgia, brain disease… and I’m sure I’m missing something. She is such a model for being mentally strong and continuing to chase your dreams!

  17. Hi Hollie, I enjoyed reading your recap and look forward to the next installments. I “accidentally” PR’d the half at the Runner’s World festival. I went into the weekend thinking I wouldn’t get any PRs because of the three days of racing but was thrilled my inadvertent strategy of taking the 5K and 10K fairly easy worked out!
    Anyway, my brother has influenced my running the most. In fact, I wasn’t a runner until he died unexpectedly at the age of 45 almost three years ago. He was running his 155th marathon when he collapsed and he was taken off life support a week later. An autopsy revealed he had an enlarged heart; he had not experienced any symptoms.
    So, as a way of coping with grief, I started running and learned quickly that competing in races was what I needed. I’m not fast but I’m continually improving and I’m attempting my second full marathon next month. I did not finish my first attempt, which is another long story so I’ll save it. I run for Jacob.

    1. Accident PRed at Runners World? That’s so amazing Heidi and congrats.

      I cannot imagine how difficult that is with your brother. I am extremely close to my family as well. I appreciate you sharing your story.

  18. My friend Kasey is a big influence for me. She really encouraged me to start running and even sign up for my first half. She really loves running and even though she has struggled with a lot of injury, she has such a heart for it and it really makes me want to do better and more.

  19. Honestly, in my running life lately I’ve been most inspired by all of my fellow runners on the blogs and Instagram. I’m not a fast runner, in fact I’m quite slow- but I learned back when I started reading running blogs that it didn’t matter. I am inspired by everyone’s journey and how willing you all are to share them for people like me to read 🙂

  20. My mom has always inspired me. She has been into fitness for as long as I can remember (I know all the words to every Jane Fonda workout tape) and, despite suffering a massive stroke 6 1/2 years ago, is still doing everything her body allows her to. True, she can no longer do certain activities she used to enjoy because of the stroke, but she does everything she can with such dedication – it is impossible not to be inspired.

    1. I’m so glad to hear she makes the best of everything. I cannot imagine how difficult that is.

  21. I am inspired by every runner( beginners,mid-pack, elite, masters). I love to hear about people accomplishing their goals, because it gets me excited about my goals. Chasing times, chasing distances or chasing people are all things that runners have in common. The beauty is that we all have a story that will inspire others so for me it’s all who share in this sport. Just too many to name…..

    1. I love this Shawanna. Like you, I’m inspired by everyone getting out there. We all have some sort of story!

  22. My biggest running inspiration is my husband. While his speed is inspiring in an of itself, it is his commitment to running and grit that really inspire me.

  23. My college influenced me greatly (and continues to do). A lot of people think he’s intense, but for me, he is the most passionate person in the world. He loves what he does and it shows through his lectures, notes and personality.
    He has taught me that it IS possible to love every aspect of what you do. It is possible to wake up excited for work and love when someone asks what you do because you can’t wait to share.
    He reminded me of what passion looks and feels like.
    I continue to aspire to find a job where I feel similar feelings, and he has helped me on that path ❤️

  24. My biggest inspiration after the Lord is John Piper, the most joyful Christian person I’ve seen- he is the epitome of a person who is made new- his love for Jesus is what true Christianity looks like! Plus he is 70+ and still runs 12 minute miles after 50 years of running!! 🙂

  25. This may sound strange but lately my biggest inspiration is my three year old daughter. She is so outgoing and friendly and loving. She inspires me to break out of my introverted shell and like people more. I am also inspired by well rounded runners. After going to treatment for my eating disorder last year i am carefully getting back into running. Its so cool to reads about proper nutrition and REST, and I am so thankful for bloggers like you and others I follow who seem to to both well. Thanks for the giveaway!

  26. A lot of my friends and training partners inspire me. I’m really inspired by my friend Bruce who had cancer a few years ago and has become a runner since and improved so much, as well as my friend Todd who had heart issues but has gotten back to running when so many others would have stopped.

  27. My husband… he is super fast but my biggest fan. Whenever I want to quit he runs with me to keep me going… love him to bits and I want the best for him! I’ll never make it to his speed but I’m lucky to have such a good supporter

  28. My mom has influenced me. She’s always so optimistic and doesn’t get bogged down by the small things

  29. Hi, Hollie!

    I was the volunteer who said, “I follow your blog!” When you were picking up your bibs on Friday. 😃. It was great to meet you!

    I’m a member of the Sub 30 Club (Facebook group) and all of our 6,000+ members inspire me! Those just starting to run… those overcoming adversity… those taking care of their health… those dealing with chronic illness… those working their butts off for a BQ… those training for an IronMan… all amazing & inspiring people.

    The club had a large group at the festival, you probably heard us yelling like crazy at the finish line. 😃

    1. That meant so much to me Therese and thank you for stopping by. It was so great to meet you as well. I agree that so many different types of people inspire me too. I did see the Sub 30 and I’ve actually seen several at various races too!

  30. I have to go with Devon Yanko! Complete inspiration to me and I love following her journey.

  31. I grew up right down the street from the steel stacks (catasauqua) and I love seeing all the pictures. I ran the race in 2013 (I think) and loved it! I always want to come back and do it but it’s a huge race weekend

  32. Looks like you had a wonderful and successful weekend!
    My dad has always inspired my love of running and fitness. When I was 11 yo I would bike while he ran. Later we ran 3 marathon together. Now he says at 70 he would run another marathon if his grandchildren would run with him. My triplets may take him up on this one day!

  33. What an experience! You’re living the dream Hollie. Meeting the Hall’s would be at the top of my list. I had the pleasure of meeting Joan Samuelson Benoit. So down to earth, wise and beautiful. Her holistic approach to running and life was inspiring and refreshing. Ps-Altra shoes are the only shoe I run in. Best ever.

  34. My friend Vicki inspires me and is also my phone a friend when I get so frustrated that I sit down in the middle of the trail at mile 15 of what is supposed to be a 22 mile training run crying like a fool because I hurt. All the bloggers that I follow inspire me. I love reading race recaps of races I will never run and times I will never see on my garmin.

  35. It’s funny when I think about who has influenced me how hard it really is. Sometimes you can think of one person instantly that has changed you in a way. Anymore I don’t feel it is one person that I look up too or want to have the work ethic like them, but quite the opposite. Now, I want to be better than the people I see putting other women down and not lifting them up. I have this done to me regularly. I am too slow, too confident, my shorts are too short for being a mom (they are running shorts), or I should leave my shirt on and not run in a sports bra as its inappropriate to run without it when its 90. These negative attitudes and outlooks push me to be better for the next generation. To show my daughter that you can be who you are and be proud of it. Any accomplishment is a good accomplishment….big or small. 🙂

  36. I’m inspired by Gabby Grundewald, I am amazed at how positive she is through her fight with cancer. Every time I struggle during a run, I think about how lucky I am that I am physically able to run, and am not fighting a major health issue! Way to go this weekend, Hollie! You are so fast!

  37. My mom! She has worked so hard and juggled so many responsibilities. She went after the education and job she wanted after my brother and I went to college, and she’s now helping so many other people. I was so inspired when she decided to run her first race with me recently – a 5K. It was hard for her, but she pushed through it, and we crossed the finish line together. She has always been and will always be my biggest inspiration!

  38. My mom! She has worked so hard and juggled so many responsibilities. She went after the education and job she wanted after my brother and I went to college, and she’s now helping so many other people. I was so inspired when she decided to run her first race with me recently – a 5K. It was hard for her, but she pushed through it, and we crossed the finish line together. She has always been and will always be my biggest inspiration!

  39. My friend from HS was killed in the Virginia Tech shooting – he was an avid runner. Each year a race is held in his honor – that race was my first 5k and why I began running.

  40. I’m lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life who have inspired me. Right now, I’m influenced by my friend Lauren. She is not only an incredible friend and support to me, but we are also starting a triathlon training journey together. Her positive attitude and drive are so important to my success and enjoyment!

  41. Since I started running in 2011 I have followed a few people on social media that inspire me and have become friends but I think the one person who truly inspires me is my husband. He doesn’t run (he said the Marine Corps ran him all he ever wants to run) but he works so hard day in and day out, daylight to dark to provide for his family. He pushes and encourages me and he doesn’t even know it. His strength makes me want to push harder and do more and accomplish my goals. I may be 48 but I believe one day I will run a sub 2 half and quite honestly even if I don’t I know he’s proud of me.

  42. What an amazing weekend you had! I think I would have been awe struck meeting the Hall Family!!💕 It’s hard to narrow down who inspires/influences but I’d have to say that my driving force would be a woman named Teresa. She was the stand in high school xc coach and would train with us over the summers and attend running camp with us. At the time she had 3 young daughters and Teresa was in excellent shape, (6 pack abs after kids!) and really fast. I looked up to her and learned so much in regards to nutrition and exercise. She planted the seed of my passion of fitness and years later I am now a mom of 4, with abs and am working really hard to regain and keep my speed!

  43. My wife, she accidentally ran an ultra (looped 50k) while supporting me and my running friends during a 24 hour looped race. Talk about supportive. They had an extra medal, so she got the bling!

  44. I know so many inspirational people! When it comes to athletics, my dad inspires me because he’s had a lot of health problems, but he keeps playing sports and trying his best to stay on top. I’ve had a ton of injuries that still cause me pain every day, but seeing him play tennis matches or ultimate frisbee inspires me to keep going.

  45. The friends I run with inspire me–they get me out of the house to run even when I’m not really feeling it. And especially inspired by my friend Jenn who just ran Chicago as her first marathon!

  46. My friend Laurice has been keeping me motivated and accountable during a time when I was struggling with my fitness. It has made a difference and I’ve lost 2.8 pounds in a week!

  47. The kids I coach inspire me. They’re middle schoolers and early high schoolers, and are so dedicated to the sport. They’re out there in the WORST weather, just grinding.

    They’re learning so much about commitment and hard work – and they’re just They make me want to be a better runner and they give me hope for the future.

  48. I’m an avid runner but I’ve never gone to any kind of running events! You make me want to get out there and meet fellow runners!

  49. My running friend Bob is a huge inspiration to me! I met him at the training runs he hosted for the first half marathon that I did a few months after graduating high school in 2012. He’s run so many races, up to a 100 miler, and has shared so many pieces of advice and stories with me. I was lucky enough that he was the also the pace leader for the pace I wanted to run at my first marathon in 2015. I don’t think I’d be the runner I am now without having him be a part of my journey!

  50. I’ve been influenced by my mom and sister. Both are very into fitness but do it for the joy it brings instead of putting stress on themselves to beat their last PR, or do one more rep than yesterday. They listen to their body and treat it well and it inspires me to do the same! I started running because of them and I continue to find joy in each workout!

  51. It would have to be the cashier at our local A Snail’s Pace Running Shoe store in Mission Viejo, Orange County, CA. 12 years ago, I went in to buy a pair of shoes for the 3-day Komen Walk and I saw all kinds of ads for marathons. I then asked him if he thought I could ever run 26.2. He asked me what I was doing at the time and told him about the 3-day breast cancer walk. His immediate reply was “if you could walk for 20 miles each day for three consecutive days, you could run a marathon”. That was it for me. I started running after the breast cancer weekend. I’ve ran 13 fulls and numerous half marathons.

  52. Hi! I’m a junior in high school, I started running during track season last year which was fun but now I’m heading towards the end of cross country season. It’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Running is my passion and I’m so grateful for it. Somebody who inspires me is my coach. She has always no so supportive of me. When I had a bad race she was there to reassure me that it’s okay and that it was just one race. She sees my potential and is always helping me reach it. I know that I couldn’t be where I am now without her. She such a great example to me of how hard work pays off. I’m so happy to have found this blog and am excited to continue following you!

    1. That’s awesome Hailey and I’m glad you stopped by. I know you are going to reach your full potential. I have had a couple coaches myself that have played huge roles in just motivating me when I didn’t think I would be able to do it.

  53. My high school track coach, Kelsey Bierling, was the first person to greatly influence the role running would play in my life. I wasn’t very motivated then, but her passion for the sport was undeniable and she believed in all of her girls in such an inspiring way. As the years have passed, my love for running has grown and evolved into something so much more than I ever thought it would be. It isn’t just about the speed, the stride, the race goals…but about the solitude, the empowerment, and the joy. For this, I have my husband and kids to thank. They support my running and encourage me and make it easy for me to make running a huge priority in my life.

  54. my mom has inspired me to run marathons. she has 68 marathons under her belt and no stopping soon. i’m running my second marathon this saturday 11/4 😬

  55. My dad has always been my biggest influence in running. When I was 11 years old I would ride my bike with him running alongside me. We have since run 3 marathons and walked 8 3-Day Breast Cancer Walks. Even at 70 he inspires me!

  56. Hmmmm this was a hard one! Lately, I have been super inspired by the players on my Special Olympics softball team… I just finished my first year of coaching with my dad. we recently finished our season, and they make me so proud by how hard they work, how amazing they support one another and the opposing team players, and just how much they inspire me to be better. 🙂

  57. I would have to say that my mom is my biggest influence. She passed away 2 years ago following a half marathon (something she loved to do) we always raced and trained together. She inspired me to be a thoughtful, kind, and confident person. Her passion was running and this has inspired me to keep going towards my dreams with running.

  58. This sounds so fun!!! Glad you had a great time! My mom totally inspired me to get into running in the first place, and now we run together! We’ll be running a marathon together in January ☺️

  59. AMAZING! Running wise, for sure shalane Flanagan. She was the first person I ever really watched/followed and I saw her live racing the Boston marathon. Personally, My best friend who has had a lot of cancer almong her family and friends inspires me daily with her positivity.

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