by Jess Yeomans

Starting a new project can be extremely exciting… and equally daunting. As a full-time freelancer, I’m constantly training myself to focus on what it is that excites me for each new project. Without it, production suffers and the process becomes stale; productiveness is fueled by passion. As passionate as I am about my job, I’m equally passionate about running, so when the idea to start a group run to Coney Island entered my head, the excitement launched into action.

Every Friday throughout the summer, hundreds of Brooklynites flock to Coney Island to enjoy a free fireworks show. The first show of 2012 took place on June 15th, the night before the PPTC picnic. While watching the show, I had the idea to organize a one-time group run from Prospect Park to Coney Island with the fireworks as our reward. The next day I shared the thought with Lynda Mules, who agreed that it was a good idea. So I decided to run with it. After sending out an email on the PPTC forum and receiving a great deal of positive feedback, the idea began to grow. Why not make this more than just a one-night event? Why not open this up to runners outside of PPTC? Why not make this HUGE?! And with that, the Free Fireworks Fridays Group Run was born. With guidance from Michael Ring, the FFFGR Facebook page was created and quickly gained 60+members in the first week.

Then came time for our first run on June 29th. Naturally, anxiety tried to creep in. Are people going to show up? Will everyone have a good time? What if someone dies running in that heat?! As nerve-wracking as it was, I wouldn’t let myself get wrapped up in the negative. This was about running and having a good time, right? So let’s run and have a good time!

The worries began to fade away as I stood in front of 10 other runners who came out to join the first FFFGR. After the (very hot) 6 mile run, we made it to Coney Island (alive) and celebrated under the fireworks with beer and hot dogs. A couple PPTC’ers even brought their families along to hang out with us. Sigh of relief… it was a success!

Though we’ve only had one run I believe this will continue to grow and evolve into a memorable summer event. FFFGR is the product of colliding passions; running, entertainment, creativity and community. Anyone can start a successful group run, especially if you can incorporate your own passions into the mix. If you’ve thought about starting your own group run, I want to encourage you to take a leap of faith, both in yourself and in our PPTC family to help launch your own idea into action.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who celebrated the inaugural FFFGR, it wouldn’t have been possible without you: Allison Nickerson, Beverly Walley (NBR), Colin Dungan (NBR), Frank Deleo, Gary Belcher, Marianne van Ooij, Matt Strawn, Oren Efrati, Vinny Spiteri and Wallis Finger. You guys are awesome!
To find out more about Free Fireworks Fridays Group Run, visit the Facebook group page. Hope you can join us for some Coney Island fun this summer!

Michael Ring