Soon after starting Conduct the Juices in December 2008, I had this idea. It might be fun, entertaining, unique, and possibly informative, provocative and impactful, to get a group of bloggers together who share a passion for the Western States 100 and synchronously post on different topics leading up to the June 27, 2009 race. The bloggers who agreed to join me in this project are Andy Jones-Wilkins, Bryon Powell, Scott Dunlap, and Sean Meissner. They were specifically chosen because each of them has a different perspective on or role in the race. AJW is a five-time finisher (’01, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07) with the last four consecutive years in the top ten (the only one in the field who can make that claim). Bryon is a three-time finisher (’04, ’05, ’06) and is pacing AJW this year. Scott, the de facto king of ultrablogging, is running the race for the first time and has been interviewing WS runners for many years. Sean will be going for his second silver belt buckle (’05), runs a race every weekend, is an RD, and manages a running store. They are also prolific bloggers, and now synchrobloggers. I have five finishes (’01, ’02, ’04, ’05, ’07) and am as obsessed with the race as you can get.
The way it works is we agree on general topics for five different dates. We write our posts independently, without influence from or knowledge of the others. We share our links the day or two before the publish time so we can include them in our own posts. We set our posts to publish at the same time in the middle of the night. We do not read the others’ posts until we wake up in the morning. Pretty simple.
I chose the first topic, “make a request, suggestion, or plea directly to the Western States Board of Directors,” to start us off on January 15. We had a few technical difficulties, but I think overall it went fairly well. It definitely was fun, entertaining, unique, informative, and provocative. Only time will tell if it was impactful. We had a mix of serious requests (Bryon asked for accountability and transparency, Sean wrote about letting Scott Jurek into the race, and I questioned mandatory volunteerism), an interview with a trustee by Scott, and a humorous post by our self-proclaimed class clown AJW. Lots of people read the posts, including the WS Board of Trustees. Traffic on our blogs increased significantly. We even got blogged about by rootsrunner and trailrunningsoul. Bloggers blogging about other bloggers … and now I’m blogging about that. Not sure what that means.
The remaining topics will be determined by a consensus of the five of us. Since we’re each passionate about the race it won’t be difficult to find topics or to write the posts. If you have suggestions on what we can do to make the remaining four better please feel free to share your ideas.
Jan 15 Synchroblog #1 (request to WSER board of directors)
Feb 19 Synchroblog #2 (what we like best about WS)
April 2 Synchroblog #3 (an idea to improve WS)
May 7 Synchroblog #4 (WS aid station we’re most looking forward to)
June 18 Synchroblog #5 (open topic)