At 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, several dozen neon-clad runners greeted the rainy new day with hugs, cheers, and strenuous physical activity, charging up and down the steps of Harvard Stadium before most Bostonians even woke up.
Runners, who hail from Cambridge and the greater Boston area, come together three days a week through the November Project, a free fitness program founded in 2011 by former Northeastern crew athletes Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric. Since its inception in Boston, the group has spread to nearly two dozen other North American cities.
In Boston, the November Project organizes three early-morning workouts a week, including one at Harvard Stadium on Wednesdays, when participants run up and down the arena stairs up to 37 times.
“The driver of it is the energy everyone feels,” William S. Xiao ’16 said. “You do the stadium and then for the rest of the day you feel amazing; nothing can go wrong.”
“The high caries you through the rest of the day, and you can’t wait for the next one,” November Project co-leader Chris A. Capozzi said.
In addition to the physical and emotional benefits of working out, November Project athletes also pointed to communal bonding as one of the main attractions of their early-morning runs.
“We set up everyone and we really embrace everyone,” Capozzi said. “We’re a weird, wacky bunch of people, and that’s amazing.”
Through traditions like constant hugging, cheering, and singing, the group fosters a sense of shared purpose and fun, participants said.
“It builds community, it builds closeness, it builds a sense of camaraderie that you don’t get in any running club or gym workout,” said Malcolm F. Purinton, a doctoral candidate at Northeastern.
“It’s recess for adults,” said November Project co-leader Chris R. Payne. “We have more fun at 6:30 in the morning than anyone else in town.”
More than anything else, the Boston group’s organizers said, the November Project emphasizes openness and availability to anyone who wants to join, no matter athletic ability.
“All you have to do is show up—that’s sort of the point,” Payne said.
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