The Nerd Herd

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Medal Monday – Illinois Marathon Relay 2010

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Welcome to Medal Monday! This is where we share with you our favorite or not-so-favorite medals earned over the years and the stories behind them. Feel free to share your own medal memories with us by emailing Nerd Erinn at Maybe YOUR Medal Monday memory will be shared here!

Somewhere in the boxes in my basement, I have a box of nothing but old medals and ribbons from my 10 years of competitive swimming. I remember lovingly displaying them in my childhood bedroom, a reminder of my 6 a.m. practices before school, the hours of back and forth in the pool, the thrill of competition. Those medals no longer have the same impact they once did, and I blame running medals. Maybe because as an adult my job is no longer student and athlete, but as an employee. Maybe because now when I finally do get out to run it is no longer about what place I get, but the fact that I get to finish at all. Or maybe it is because running medals are bigger and fancier than my old swimming medals. Whatever the reason, I have them now displayed in my home office to remind me that I am getting to do something awesome.


Nerd Erinn asked us to write about some of our favorite running medals for Medal Monday, and what better place to start but at the very beginning. I started running because of the first Illinois Marathon Weekend, back in 2009. co-workers and I volunteered on the race course by helping the police direct traffic. It was an eye opening experience, watching world class athletes running past, then some other speedy runners, and then those of every shape and color and fitness level. A co- worker and I both agreed that we could do the marathon relay. Running is for everyone! After all, I used to swim five miles a day! She ran track in high school! We could certainly run 1/4th of a marathon! Maybe a normal person would run a 5k to start their running career. Nah, we decided six or seven miles was the way to go.

Seven months later I started my training, and I struggled through one mile. In fact, I struggled through every long run for five months. A five-mile long run had me napping my afternoons away. When I finally lined up to take the second leg of the marathon relay for a go, I was ready. Luckily, I got to sleep in my own bed, and my starting point was Meijer in Urbana, just a few miles from my house.


Even the littlest of family members came out to cheer.


Sister Lindsey and niece Madeline show their support of Aunt Ra Ra

I had a great cheering section, with my family traveling south from my hometown to cheer me on for all of one minute as I ran past them in Campustown.

Just shy of seven miles, my leg of the race took me past my old University of Illinois dorm, my apartments, through the very campus that I love so much. It was emotional. It was awesome. It convinced me that I needed to run my first half marathon, where I met some fellow nerds. The rest is history!


Sara runs past her former dorm.

For those interested, the Illinois Marathon weekend is April 20-22. More information can be found here.

Medal Monday — Minnie’s Debut

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Welcome to Medal Monday! This is where we share with you our favorite or not-so-favorite medals earned over the years and the stories behind them. Feel free to share your own medal memories with us by emailing Nerd Erinn at Maybe YOUR Medal Monday memory will be shared here!

Today’s medal is a favorite based on the experience behind the medal. The Inaugural Walt Disney World 10k design from 2014 is a cute running Minnie design. It’s one of my favorite medals purely based on the race we shared for it. It was the most fun I’ve had on course. The Nerds decided to race together to earn our Minnie bling:


Image credit: RunDisney

Nerds could not simply run a race together. We had to have a plan. And costumes. This is how “Nerds Assemble” came to be one of our battle cries … we dressed as the Avengers!


The Avengers storm the finish line (Photo credit: Helen Dunn)

This race was so enjoyable because we stuck together for most of the miles. When we were separated from Nerd Sara and Jack, the rest of us decided to wait to re-assemble before finishing the race. This resulted in an impromptu cheer stop just inside EPCOT where we cheered, high-fived and Hulk Smashed (fist-bumped) other runners on their way to the finish. The Disney castmembers we joined were entertained and even recognized us in the parks later that day. My favorite moment from the race is a tie between the photo above as we all were coming in to the finish line together and the moment I “Hulk smashed” the finish line.

Running in a full body costume, a wig and ginormous fists was kind of a pain, but it was so worth the fun — and the cute Minnie medal.


Medal Monday — a Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Princess

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Welcome to Medal Monday! This is where we share with you our favorite or not-so-favorite medals earned over the years and the stories behind them. Feel free to share your own medal memories with us by emailing Nerd Erinn at Maybe YOUR Medal Monday memory will be shared here!

Today we are featuring RunDisney’s 2017 Princess Half Marathon medal. Nerds Julie and Erinn along with Nerd Friend, Tina, and a few other Nerd Friends found on the course completed the race for this gem yesterday. It is a beautiful medal, but it isn’t my favorite.


Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

I have a problem truly embracing this medal because it is the Princess Half, not the Beauty and the Beast Half. Sure, the Glass Slipper Challenge is very specific to Cinderella, but that makes sense to me in some weird way given that Walt Disney World is home to Cinderella’s Castle and it is the Challenge’s name, but not the individual race name. Previous half marathon medals have not been so specific to any one princess. They have featured tiaras and specific colors, but not so bluntly yelled out “HEY! THIS IS AURORA’S RUN!” RunDisney’s nod to the upcoming release of the live action Beauty and the Beast movie is marketing genius, sure, but I just wish the medal was a bit more generic and representative of all princesses. Admittedly, I might change my thought process on this if RunDisney created a medal themed after Ariel. The struggle is real.

Medal purist or not, I can’t pass up a good opportunity for a themed race costume. Nerd Julie, Nerd Friend Tina and I decided to embrace the B&B vibe of the weekend and transform into the Bimbettes. We had a ball running around looking for that dreamboat, Gaston, and giddily swooning when we found him.


Laurette, Paulette and Claudette found the burly, brawny Gaston in the Magic Kingdom.

Princess is a fun race, though can be quite crowded at times. We Bimbettes ran into a few friends on the course (Hey, Team AllEars alums!) and made some new ones, too (shout out to Mary Poppins and Donald Duck!). For the most part, all the princesses out there seemed to have a great time. Even those dressed as Belle, who became the focus of our triplet wrath, played along in good fun.


The Bimbettes had a ball on course.

Medal Monday — Dwars Door Brugge

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Welcome to Medal Monday! This is where we share with you our favorite or not-so-favorite medals earned over the years and the stories behind them. Feel free to share your own medal memories with us by emailing Nerd Erinn at Maybe YOUR Medal Monday memory will be shared here!

Today’s medal holds a space near and dear to my heart just for the experience. The medal design is nice with some of Belgium’s Brugge on display, but the actual memories from that day make the medal a favorite of mine to look at and remember the fun from the race.


The 2015 Dwars Door Brugge 5k medal

My husband and I took ourselves to Belgium back in 2015. During our planning I realized, “Hey, maybe I can run a race in Europe!” After some Googling and translating, I found Dwars Ddoor Brugge (Straight through Brugge). There is a 15k and a 5k. We were planning to visit Brugge anyway, but our dates didn’t match up. After some city and date shuffling, we were all set. Then, my non-running husband surprised me and said he wanted to run, too. I couldn’t talk him into the 15k, so we signed up for the 5k.

Like any good nerd on vacation, our day before the race was nothing if not exhausting. We toured most of Brugge, drank too much good Belgium beer, ate too many good waffles, dipped our frites into a lot of heavy sauces and condiments, and got little sleep the night before the race. I can’t be certain, but at one point we may have accidentally become part of a bachelor party, too.


Nerd Erinn’s man hands were still no match for this glass of brew.


This quad from Straffe Hendrik is probably not something one should drink the night before a race.

On race day morning, we made our way across the city to the bib pickup and pre-race area. It was all a little confusing with our language barrier, but we were able to figure out where we needed to end up for the start line.


Dwars Door Brugge course map


Ears up from the start line

The start line was like any good race here in America. It had a DJ, a high-energy announcer and lots of energized runners ready to roll. The first mile or so of the race went through the beautiful, older parts of Brugge — think of cobblestone streets wreaking havoc on your ankles. It was pretty, but came with a price! The course went through new parts of the city, too, along the water and back to the bus station area. On course support was great all the way to the finish with spectators and aid stations. I think I even made a few on-course friends despite not speaking their language. My hubs stuck with me for the first part of the course. He had pledged his loyalty and claimed he would finish the race with me. I knew his competitiveness would take over prevent that from happening. And it did. He finished eight minutes before I did and still proudly boasts of being the first American finisher for the 5k (I think there were three of us, total).


Nerd Erinn and hubs, Mike, at the finish

The main draw for the husband was the race sponsor, Brugge Zot. This is from De Halve Maan brewery, which is also where you can find the aforementioned Straffe Hendrik. All finishers could get a cold Zot at the finish, and it was delightful. Which was a good thing because we got lost on our bus ride back toward our bed and breakfast and somehow ended up in the parking lot of a hospital before finding the right bus back (which ended up being the original bus we had boarded). That’s a story for another day.

zot The main takeaways from this Medal Monday memory is that when traveling — whether it is abroad or at home — signing up for a good 5k is most likely going to provide you a fun way to see more of your destination, give you some awesome memories, and (maybe) fill up your cup with a good brew. Get your ears up and get going!

Medal Monday — Nerd Erinn’s All-time Favorite

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Welcome to Medal Monday! This is where we share with you our favorite or not-so-favorite medals earned over the years and the stories behind them. Feel free to share your own medal memories with us by emailing Nerd Erinn at Maybe YOUR Medal Monday memory will be shared here!

When I think about my favorite medal I always come back to the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon medal from 2013.


20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon medal. Photo credit: Disney Parks

There’s no denying it’s a cool medal with classic Mickey and current Mickey spinning around in the center and flanked with quotes from Walt. My love for this medal has nothing to do with the design. This is the medal from my first marathon. It came after running a half marathon the day before as part of the aptly named Goofy Challenge. Completing it wouldn’t have been possible without friends.

I started the race strong and excited with a group of friends from the former Team AllEars. By mile 15-ish I found myself alone, hot and in need of a cold Coca Cola and people I recognized. That’s when I ran into Ellie, Mary Jean and Evelyn, who were also my Team AllEars teammates. It was Ellie’s first marathon, too. I firmly believe we needed each other in that moment and Mickey knew it. We found a cold Coke thanks to yet another teammate who was cheering on the course and off we went for the last 10 or so miles. They were slow. They weren’t pretty. They probably weren’t even fun. But when you end a race like this, it still makes a beautiful memory:


Helen (far left) joined Ellie, Mary Jean, me and Evelyn for the race’s finish. Make no mistake, Mary Jean and Evelyn were basically holding me upright at that point.

This medal represents camaraderie, perseverance, pride and a little bit of silliness. Each time I catch a glimpse of it on my medal hanger I feel a jolt of inspiration and happiness. It will most likely always be my favorite medal.


First time marathoners, Ellie and Erinn, taste sweet success.



Let the Wookiee Win 5k Awards and Results

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Ladies and Gentlemen, you could have been anywhere in the world today, but you’re here with us in Nerd City!  Are you ready for an awards ceremony?!

From May 2-8, we set a little over 350 nerds loose on the world to run the Let the Wookiee Win 5k. Our participants ran amok on three different continents as they played the part of their favorite Star Wars sidekick. Whether it was running along the beaches of Australia, walking on the treadmill in Pennsylvania, or strolling through the city of Minneapolis, we love knowing our nerds were everywhere. Thank you to everyone who registered and helped us raise money for Stupid Cancer!

Our favorite part of each race is picking award categories that make us smile. We want everyone to have a chance to win, so we try to pick themes that any nerd could embrace. Please check out our winners!

Kelly and Orion Ihme of Kansas win the award for Best Costume. Not only are their race costumes totally on point, they’re also reenacting our favorite scene from Star Wars. How can you say no to a great wookiee prisoner gag?!

277, 278

Kendra Storm of Alabama wins the award for Best Sidekick. Her little one may not be very big yet, but don’t judge her by her size. Some of the biggest nerds we know started out that small!


Our third category was originally for the Best Wookiee Roar video. Sadly, none of our nerds were gutsy enough to share their Chewy impressions.  :(   So we decide to award a Wildcard prize to Callie Zerby of Pennsylvania because she looks like she’s having so much fun in her photo!


And because we know many of you like to see how you did compared to other nerds, we also put together official results. How did you do?

Let the Wookiee Win 5k Results

Seven Days of Giveaways are Coming Your Way!

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NERDS! It brings us great joy to let you know that Seven Days of Giveaways are BAAAACCCKKK!!
YOU get a nerd and YOU get a nerd and YOU get a nerd and EVERYONE gets a nerd!

No, wait, that’s not how it goes.

Beginning on Monday, April 18, we will have seven days of fun and nerdy items to giveaway on our Facebook page. The first six prizes will lead up to the grand giveaway to celebrate our four-year anniversary of the original Nerd Herd Running Virtual Race Series. To be eligible for our prize drawings you must be registered for our trilogy or for the Let the Wookiee Win 5k.  Though it won’t give you extra entries, we invite you to like and share our contest posts on Facebook to help get the word out to everyone else.  Here are some of the potential giveaways:


It’s Our Time medal plaque


Chewy figurine


Companion Tshirt, size Large


And now we come to the grand giveaway.

As you all know Nerd Herd Running’s donations go to support Stupid Cancer, a non profit dedicated to supporting young adult cancer patients and their families.  In past years we have honored those we have lost to cancer by paying forward a kindness. Our grand giveaway is just this — we will pick ONE registered trilogy runner.  That runner will receive ONE FREE TRILOGY REGISTRATION to PAY FORWARD to someone else.  Do you know someone that could benefit from the incentives of three virtual races?  You could be the one to give them that incentive for free.

To register for the entire trilogy to run all three races AND receive the bonus medal, click here.

To register for the Let the Wookiee Win 5k only, click here.

We appreciate all of you from the bottom of our nerdy hearts. We can never begin to truly express how much your support has meant to us.  A simple idea has turned into a network of nerdy runners across the globe and over $75,000 netted to support the fight against cancer.  These giveaways are but a small token of us saying thanks and…EARS UP!

It’s Our Time!

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We are so excited to share the 2016 Nerd Herd Running Race Series with you, our sidekicks.

It’s Our Time!

Check out our medals below!

For more information about this year’s trilogy, click here.

For the Love of Nerds

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Since starting this nerdy adventure back in 2013 we have found that we have a lot of love for nerds. We all have jobs and families and friends who naturally pull us in other directions in our day-to-day lives, but we nerds remain connected by our love of this idea that we can do more. And, in turn, nerds have a lot of love for us. In the spirit of the holiday, we wanted to take a moment to think about this love of what we do, why we do it, who we do it with and who we do it for.

First, a Founding Nerd’s perspective. Nerd Sara had this to say:

Why do I love Nerd Herd Running? It isn’t just because I am one of the founding members, though I suppose that is a good place to start. I truly believe that the other founding members are people that should be looked up to, my soul mates, friends who are family. They want to spend their time doing good in this world, and will do anything for you. These friends have gotten me through bad and good. They have been there for me on so many amazing days like Epic Thursday, my wedding day (Nerd Erinn even married us!), and when I finally got to see Foo Fighters in concert. They have picked me up when I was sad or angry, they have laughed with me, and sailed to paradise alongside me. These are damn good people, and I am humbled that they are my friends.

Why else do I love Nerd Herd Running? It is because of the response we have gotten over the last three years from all of you. We wanted to continue our work with a charity organization following the final year of Team AllEars, so we had this idea we could get another 100 runners or so to join us in virtual runs to raise money for Stupid Cancer. To date, we have had thousands of medals shipped out for our races, raised over $75,000, and have almost 3,700 followers on Facebook. All because of awesome nerds out there who follow us because of running or nerdy reasons or because you feel obligated to because you are family…whatever the reason, we love that you follow us. We love spreading the idea that nerds do, in fact, run the world. We want nerds to be loud and proud about their love of pop culture, books, or music. We want nerdlets to know that someday, you are going to be the ones to run businesses and to come up with life changing and lifesaving ideas. Nerd is no longer a mean name, we are reclaiming it!

Let’s call this a love letter to my fellow founding members AND to our followers. Because of you, I have found another purpose in life. You have made my life more meaningful, and that is priceless.

I love you, awesome nerds.

One of our participants, Richard Osbourne, reached out to us with some words of love. He has participated in all three racing series with Nerd Herd Running and has shown us first hand how we can help others. Here is what he had to say:

My brother introduced me to Nerd Herd Running when the first series was about to begin.  It was a way for us to compete against each other and support a worthy cause as our father had passed away due to cancer and my wife had breast cancer.   Over the few years in an odd way that may mean I have very few friends, this group that I have never met has become like family.  I look forward to what post there may be each day to know what is going on and to enjoy a laugh.

In June 2014, my wife was diagnosed with inoperable appendix cancer.   Now the association with Stupid Cancer became valuable as every article regarding trials, tips on chemo and dealing with a diagnosis is read with intense interest.   Each funny post from the group brings a bit of levity to what is now our lives.  And lastly, the nerd herd founders have taken time to check in on us to see how we are doing just like a family would.

This is why I love Nerd Herd Running.

Ears Up.

Thank you to ALL of you nerds out there who continue to love and support us. Stay tuned for what we have in store for you in 2016!


Requiem for a Playground

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It goes without saying that the Nerd Herd is eagerly anticipating the creation of a “Star Wars Land” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Combined with the expected “Toy Story Land”, Hollywood Studios will eventually rival the current “king of the immersive nerd mountain,” the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal.

But with each technologically advanced addition to Walt Disney World, we tend to lose the more simplistic attractions that form the basis of some of our most endearing vacation memories. Most recently, for example, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train cost us Pooh’s playful spot and Story Book Circus cost us Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

01_2011_HISTKPNow Disney has announced they will be closing the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure to make way for Star Wars Land. More commonly referred to as the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground (HISTKP) in Disney Nerd circles, this play land (themed after the 1989 hit movie) has always served as backdrop for some wonderful WDW vacations memories for our family.

As the 2012 Color Companion to Walt Disney World describes, the HISTKP is an “elaborate playground” with “tunnels, slides, rope ladders, and various oversized props” all designed to make you feel miniaturized.

Original Ant Man?

Original Ant Man?

I recall on my first ever trip to WDW in 1999 being overjoyed running underneath the giant blades of grass, getting wet by the leaky garden hose, and jumping on the tree roots to make music. I wasn’t climbing the giant spider web with kids; I was one of the kids. I laughed out loud when the giant dog’s nose sneezed on me. And I waited patiently with the rest of the toddlers (I was a 24 year old toddler) for a chance to get my photo on the giant chirping ant.

It was no surprise that when I returned to WDW in 2001 for my honeymoon I made sure we spent some carefree time back at HISTKP. Sure, getting honeymoon photos taken in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom is romantic, but it doesn’t compare being surrounded by 30 ft. tall blades of grass.

Honeymooning among the blades...

Honeymooning among the blades…

As our family grew, we found our appreciation for HISTKP only deepen. Sure, it was fun to climb, slide and jump around with our kids. But more importantly, it was a time that THEY determined what we did. After being dragged around from attraction to attraction, from park to park, our kids were in charge. Were we going to climb in the spider web? It was their decision. Did we want to spend more time in the tunnels? They made the call.

Andrew playing under the mushrooms...what a "fun guy"

Andrew playing under the mushrooms…what a “fun guy”

It’s been evident for several years that HISTKP’s time was coming to an end. While still fun, many of the props were outdated. For instance, we had to explain to our son Andrew what “film” was after he slid down the Kodak canister slide. He insisted he was sliding out of a battery. He held onto this belief long enough to teach his little sister on her first visit to HISTKP that she was on “the battery slide”.

"What is this 'film' you are speaking of?"

“What is this ‘film’ you are speaking of?”

As single adults, HISTKP always made us feel like kids again. As parents, it gave our children a much needed break from standing in line and gave us the opportunity to play with them on their level. As I watch WDW build more “E Ticket” attractions, and expand with extremely immersive experiences, I pray that the Imagineers don’t lose sight of the value of the simpler attractions, and the significance they play in building positive memories for all the kids (real ones and transformed ones) that travel to Orlando for vacation.

2010_Leah_petalslide 2010_Andrew_FilmSlide  2010_Spiderweb

RIP HISTKP – we will surely miss you.