Sometimes It’s Just Better to Not Be Normal

NSN5K_LogoWeekend-01Living in Raleigh we see a lot of greenway signage and street closures on the weekends to accommodate local races and marathons. We’re lucky to have such a health and wellness-minded city, but the weekend of September 12-14th there will be an event never done before happening outside Oak City in Carborro/Chapel Hill.

We had the opportunity to chat with Jay Radford, the enthusiastic and passionate man behind the Not So Normal 5K + Weekend and blog Mom in Chapel Hill. This father of four is a stay at home dad to two young boys and describes the Not So Normal event as, “A vehicle for people to do whatever they want to do for fun and philanthropy.”

Where It all Started 
Our conversation started with how a dad came to run a blog called Mom in Chapel Hill. He explained it was a recent change, “Allison, my neighbor who started the blog, approached me. I actually did not contribute anything to it before she came me saying, ‘Hey, I’m going back to work and I can’t keep up with the blog would you be interested in taking it over?’ and I went, ‘Sure.'” She gave him a crash course on how to run it and with her support he started to figure it out.

“We’re all doing the best that we can and so I try to find content that kind of reinforces that your doing fine.”
– Jay Radford on Mom in Chapel Hill being a resource for parents

Not having any previous blogging experience, Jay stayed in the background for awhile until recently. So his approach to his posts are to keep the blog true to what it is – a resource to do things.

He says, “It’s hard being a stay at home parent, it’s hard being a working parent, it’s hard being a parent. It doesn’t matter whether you stay at home, work full-time, or part-time; none of that matters. We’re all doing the best that we can and so I try to find content that kind of reinforces that your doing fine.” Having spent the past 5 years as a stay at home dad, Jay says he tends to get pretty isolated. “I have PTSD and you add that into being a stay at home parent – you can get double isolated.” He continues, “You kind of get pretty unsure of yourself. Whether what your doing is good enough or if its “right” or whatever it may be.”

“We’re all doing the best that we can [as parents] and so I try to find content that kind of reinforces that your doing fine.”
– Jay Radford about content for Mom in Chapel Hill

You could say he had his ‘a ha!’ moment in April or May when he decided, “I’m just going to do me.” His posts mention his running, his journey and insights. This mindset seems to be working, since last November they have added over 400 new subscibers to their site. We asked about what has been the most fulfilling moment for Jay since taking over the blog and he simply replied, “Seeing the possibilities of using the platform of Mom in Chapel Hill to launch the Not So Normal 5K + Weekend and not being afraid to give it a go.”

In a way, taking over the blog helped Jay realize this goal of building the race and gave him the “I’m-going-to-do-me-idness” (a term he coined during the interview) to formally announce his role with Mom in Chapel Hill in last month’s newsletter.

About the Not So Normal 5K + Weekend
After mentioning the inaugural Not So Normal 5K + Weekend, we asked what folks can expect to see to which he replied, “You are going to see a lot!” We continued to speak about all of the events that will be taking place. The weekend starts with a kids pajama party at the ArtsCenter while parents may take a tour of the town by seeing one of two comedy shows ($10 entrance fee per show) or watch a movie on the lawn at Weaver Street Market (2 donated food items will give you entry to the movie). That night also falls on the Carrboro Art Walk were you can shop and meet the merchants!

Saturday night is another great date night! Parents can drop their young ones off at the ArtsCenter for a pizza party while parents, couples and singles can enjoy a pre-race dinner at one of 7 participating restaurants who are donating a percentage of their evening sales to different local non-profits.

Sunday morning starts at 7AM in downtown Carrboro with a 2.95 mile run starting at 8AM followed by an old fashion race at 8:45AM called “Race Ya!”. This unique race involves several different features:

  • The first male and female to cross the finish line will receive $1,000 each earmarked for a non-profit of their choice
  • There are no timers, watches, phones, music or technology allowed at all – just you and the road
  • You may see a few Olympic hopefuls in the lineup!
  • The first 100 runners that register for the races will receive a VIP Swag Bag (valued at over $100!), there will be a swap-zone area at Townsend Bertram & Company after the race to trade swag with other racers
  • All race participants are asked to bring 1 book for Book Harvest and/or 2 canned goods for TABLE or PORCH

“When I run races I remember 4 things: how easy it was to park, how easy it was to get to a bathroom, how flat the course was and what was in the race bag. So we have a massive parking plan, it’s going to be so easy for people to park at the events with plenty of people to direct. We have lots of bathrooms that are very easy to find. Our course is as flat as you can find in Chapel Hill and the swag bags are EPIC.”
– Jay Radford on making the weekend easy and enjoyable for everyone

How cool would be be to run with someone you may watch on TV in the next summer Olympics!? To top off the weekend, everyone is welcome to rock the mall at University Mall in Chapel Hill with the Not So Normal Concert presented by 94.7 QDR featuring Ella Bertram and the Buzztown Band with Stereosparks closing out the performance! DSI Comedy Theater will also be there to warm up the crowd. Tickets are FREE but donations made during the concert will benefit The ArtsCenter, NC Children’s Promise and the Kidzu Children’s Museum.

The weekend will benefit a whopping 26 different non-profits! Please note: The race registration does not include the fees for the weekend activities – free babysitting events, $10 comedy shows, 2 food items for the movie screening and donations for the concert.

Run for What Moves You
Another unique aspect of this event is the team option! While Jay and the folks over at the Not So Normal 5K + Weekend are really excited to support the beneficiaries they have selected, they felt it would only be right to give runners the opportunity to run for their own non-profit. Which ever team raises the most money will receive an extra $500 bonus towards their charity.

Jay shared, “I run for those who can’t.” He will also be running the Marine Corps Marathon to benefit T.A.P.S. (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) where he will be paired with a family who has lost someone and the money Jay raises will go to them. He thought, “How can I get people to do what I do without forcing it down their throats?” That’s where the Run for What Moves You program came along.

“It’s all inclusive and it’s not myopic, most races are myopic. You run one morning for one nonprofit – and that’s awesome, those are fantastic races but I want something that’s bigger.”
– Jay Radford on how Run for What Moves You started

Volunteering & The Future of the Not So Normal 5K + Weekend
They are looking for volunteers to help with the Sunday activities and there will be a page on the website with this information. The beauty of the event is that you don’t have to be registered for the race in order to attend the festivities. They are all open to the public!

Next year they are adding a 10K and the event will be taking place in March, the year after that they will be adding a half marathon. Jay also mentioned, “I don’t get paid. Not a single penny. I do this completely voluntarily, every nickel we make goes to a non-profit, nowhere else.”

Thank you, Jay, for putting together an event that will help so many others! 

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