Cult and community on an canvass – with November Project

It’s art. A portrait of humanity. A coliseum crawling with dots of bright color. Gladiatorial yet full of love. It’s a paradox.

Standing quietly my tired mind tries to digest the emotions that this picture elicits in my heart and soul. I’m drawn to it. I feel myself getting sucked onto the canvass.

Unlike fine art, this picture continuously changes. The specs of bright color are moving up and down, up and down. Made up of hundreds of human beings in ‘grassroots’ training gear, they run up and down the 37 sections of Harvard Stadium in Boston.

Every single Wednesday hundreds of runners meet at 6:30 at ‘section 37’ to run. The chatter and humor defy the time of day. It’s sometimes described as cult like, with the runners drinking the coolade; an army of positivity led by the hugely charismatic generals, Brogan and Bojan. Calling for quiet the laughter and playfulness dies down almost immediately – perfect cult behavior. Brogan calls out “Good Mornin’.”

The crowd responds “Good Mornin’.”

“You Good?”

“Fuck Yeah!” The crowd shout it back at him, their breath ruffles my ‘bed hair’. Not satisfied with the response Brogan repeats his statement and suddenly I’m there under his spell – I shout back with all my heart “Fuck yeah!!!” I’m starting to feel fucking good and I’m not afraid to say it! I’m not just drinking the coolade, I’ve pored a yard and am downing it in one.

I’m told to hug the person next to me. Hugs!!! Perfect. I look around. Hundreds of pairs of arms open and embrace each other. I’m in heaven!

Before long we’ve given high fives too and I’m eliciting the same energy as the people around me. Like a fanged vampire I’m sucking in the life force of these runners. I’m ready to start working out, looking around I see eyes dilated, focusing on the top of section 37. Like racing horses in the traps.

Then, without much ado, runners in waves run to the top of section 37, leaping up the knee high seats that have been made to sit on to watch the Football. The concrete is being crushed under footfall after footfall. The runners, in bright kit with ‘November Project’ spray painted on the front or back, spread out and the work of art begins to take form. The faster runners are trying to complete a full tour. All 37 sections. Others walk half a tour. Whilst beginners, who’s knees, hips and muscles are just becoming accustomed to this work out, try and make it up one more section than they made last week.

It’s brutal. Your thighs scream. Your lungs feel like they are being torn from your gasping mouth. Your ass, pumped with so much blood and lactic acid, feels like that of Beyoncé Knoles and feels like it is twerking as your legs shake with exhaustion. BUT still the crowd finds the energy to cheer each other, to shout “Fuck Yeah”s at random opportunities, to high five and, at the top and bottom of each section, people embrace, silently saying ‘glad your here’ in the form of a tight squeeze.

Looking around it seems every section has humanity crawling all over it, and the beauty is clear to see. Professional photographers capture that said beauty to post on the November Project Facebook page later in the day. Causing frantic notification after notification, people tag themselves and friends in all the pictures.

At 7:30 for most people it’s time to leave for work but before they can go everyone congregates at section 19, sitting on the steps that they’ve climbed. Squeezing close together people fill every inch of space. Instructed to pull a straight face for the camera Bojan takes a single snap of everyone that is added to the album featuring every workout since the boys started November Project two years ago. These pictures show the increase from two people, to three, then ten, fifty and for the past 6 months hundreds upon hundreds. It’s expanding elsewhere too – 16 cities now have a branch of November project and word is spreading fast. The cult is going viral. Infecting person after person, it’s an epidemic. And I friggin love it!!!!!

November project makes you feel super double awesome! Fuck yeah!

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