Charlie Dark and his Run Dem Crew have got a lot to answer for.
He's a 21st century Mr. Motivator, minus the bum bag. For years, we were an unhealthy bunch, stacking up running shoes, obsessing over improvements in the weight reduction of a product, coveting new technologies and breaking down the benefits, as they'd been relayed to us at fancy press launches. Of course, we had no intention of running in them. It was just nice to know that Phylon, Lunarlon and all the other beneficial Nike foams were the best the range could offer. We liked Air Max 1s because of KRS One, and on the apparel side the Windrunner's b-boy connotations were more powerful than any history as a protective athletic piece. We were happy that way. But somewhere in our minds we knew that we should probably wear them to move with a little more pace than just lacing them nicely and concerning ourselves with how our denim sat when were posing in them.
Then Charlie and his motivational ways came and ruined our sofa and office chair bound existences with some motivational talk and a genuinely inspiring story of a shift from expanding waistline to reduced mile times.
You see, Charlie Dark is quite a speaker — we know this from a few encounters and a humiliating slot presenting on running shoes after him which made us look like spotlight startled imbeciles in the oratory stakes. He's one of the few who could potentially get us on the move after years of caffeine and nicotine dependence, and he might be the only person who could encourage us to dirty up the contents of the orange boxes that we've amassed. After starting Run Dem Crew three years ago as a small group to avoid running alone, it seems to have exploded into a tiered pack of a hundred plus everyman and everywoman athletes running every Tuesday. Crucially, Run Dem wasn't some cynical attempt to capture a hipster zeitgeist when it comes to self improvement. Nike knew when to get involved and to stay hands off, with a bunch of individuals from several disciplines and backgrounds enjoying a some networking on the move, yet somehow there's more draw in the Run Dem project than there is in hundred celebrity endorsements. Everyone's a winner in more ways than one. Somehow, a handful of Crooked staffers have found themselves drawn to it too. Charlie achieved the impossible with that one.
It goes without saying that Run Dem Crew (and Run Dem Crew deserve a proper shoe of their own with Nike - we hope that they're creating one for 2012) deserves documentation, and with members of creative agency Rosie Lee — a frequent Nike collaborator — in the squad, they put together 'AWAY! AWAY! AWAY! Celebrating Run Dem Crew.' This book of photo essays from Tom Hull depicts the rise from casual runners to London Marathon participants over four months. Run Dem isn't a regimented, off-putting approach to running clubs that breeds two attendances before the excuses and eventual disappearance from the ranks. It's more fun than that, so the book reflects that loose-knit approach that's laced with some tight friendships. Using Ditto Press's Riso printer makes the visuals that little bit more vivid too. Salutes to Charlie for wearing his heart on his sleeve and London's dirt on his outsoles, but we're mad at him for compelling us to shed our slovenly ways, one by one.
We're still not sure where this book's set to turn up, but in the meantime, go check www.rundemcrew.com
to find out more.