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Charity go before I sleep...

There's no doubt that we've made you quite aware of our time at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. With a few blog posts, a Facebook post or two and a few other methods, it's probably not the first you've heard about the people we met, the party that we hosted during our time there or the great insights that we gained. It is, however, the first you've heard from us about a particular meeting that left an impression on a couple members of our team that travelled to Austin. This chance encounter took place early on the Sunday morning of the weekend we were in Austin...early on that Sunday morning. Well before most folks had risen (let's be honest, some of the SXSW revelers likely only had only just gone to bed), Chris and I headed to the Austin Convention Center. With the morning light trying hard to pierce a cloud-ridden sky, we headed through the vacant Austin streets to our destination. What, pray tell, could we possibly have been doing up that early on a Sunday...especially at a festival that's known for its parties until the wee hours and rising on the later side?

It was time for our Brooks Shoes Cowboy Run! Of course, you might be saying...runners! They're the only ones who'd be up at that hour on a perfectly well-suited "sleep-in Sunday." This was no ordinary running group though, unless adhesive mustaches, cowboy hats and even cowboy boots are what you'd call "typical" running gear. You read right by the way...a very dedicated couple in full cowboy regalia (including painful-looking footwear) cranked out 5 kilometers for this. Now, that's Texas dedication!

Along with about 60 other folks ranging in age from 10 to 60, we were hitting the pavement for a bit of healthy running and conversation while at SXSW. While the run was beautiful and just what our bodies needed, a brief conversation with fellow runner, Gene Gurkoff revealed that this morning's activities were about a lot more than simply a run.

Gene, founder and CEO of Charity Miles, was running right along with us and casually introduced himself. As we exchanged pleasantries, both Chris and I were glad that we'd made sure to download the app, a co-sponsor of the event, prior to the run. The app, which allows you to log the miles you run/walk/cycle using your mobile device for a participating charity of your choice, leverages a concept that has been used for charitable causes for years - logging miles for the cause. Charity Miles, however, manages to update this concept by leveraging the location services tracking on your mobile device to accurately track the distance traveled and begins to turn each and every workout into a charitable race - delivering more "good" than simply a "good sweat."

After tracking with Gene for about a mile, learning more about the Charity Miles app and telling him a bit more about our work at House Party, Gene took off like a truly dedicated runner. While I love to run, though I do it a bit less frequently than I'd prefer, I'm a convert for Charity Miles. Whether I'm at the gym or simply out for a spring jog dodging yellow cabs in the city, I'll have the app tracking and donating the entire way. What about you: have you tried Charity Miles? Do you have a favorite way to give back through exercise? We'd love to hear about it...

Image courtesy of Charity Miles

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