DALLAS — When Angie Webb looks at the moon, she sees much more than an orb in a starlit sky, more than a silver circle at dusk or a cream-colored disc at dawn.
Instead, she visualizes her Moon Joggers — runners and walkers in (at last count) 45 states and 40 countries. Initially linked simply by a love of moving their feet forward, their connection has deepened and their lives have become unpredictably interwoven.
Angie, who moved to McKinney, Texas, last fall, and her sister Ashley, who lives in Utah, started Moon Joggers as an offshoot of a personal challenge. They had decided to each run 1,000 miles in 2013. That 3-mile-a-day goal sounded like such fun that they decided to expand it.
They wondered, could they enlist the help of others and run the distance to the moon — 238,857 miles?
“We thought if we could get 237 other people to run 1,000 miles, we’d get there by the end of the year,” says Angie, 31, who works with special-needs children in Frisco, Texas, while working on her MBA. “We put it on Facebook, and it exploded.”
That was Dec. 1. Within the month, “we had hundreds of people all over the world,” she says.
On May 23, seven months and eight days earlier than scheduled, the runners had accumulated enough miles to reach the moon. When Angie posted the big news on Facebook, Moon Joggers in Finland, Turkey, Egypt and New Zealand as well as the United States posted giddy congratulations. A British group that runs marathons in sports bras sent excited well-wishes. Individuals posted videos of themselves running that day.
“We landed!” wrote a runner in South Africa.
“Does this mean we’re on the dark side of the moon?” asked someone else. A follow-up post expressed gratitude to Moon Joggers for bringing brightness to that light-deprived area.
“Seriously,” Angie says, “our site blew up.”
Sitting outside the Whole Foods store in Plano on a Friday morning and listening to her talk, you’d swear a group really did make it to the moon and you’re part of the revelry. You feel yourself all but high-fiving this contingent of nationalities and of abilities; sharing stretches and stories; talking fast because there’s so much to say.
This young woman across the table, the fifth of eight athletic siblings, is as in awe of the outpouring as she takes it in stride.
“It has changed my life,” Angie says. “Six months ago, I never imagined all this would happen. It’s always on my mind. Who’s running right now? Where are they?”
She’s enthusiastic and delightful, filled with pride and stories about people with whom she feels an intrinsic connection, though she’s never met most of them. There’s the woman, for instance, who posted about being afraid to run the Big Sur International Marathon; Moon Joggers responded with upbeat reassurances that she’d do fine (which she did).
And there’s the runner in Utah — a family friend on a Moon Joggers team of sisters — whose 7-year-old son, Adler, has kidney cancer and whose family has no insurance.
“He wears stripes because he says they make him brave,” Angie says.
When the Moon Joggers heard about Adler, they began posting online photos of themselves wearing stripes.
“Anytime they want to run and wear stripes, it can be for Adler,” says Angie, whose running attire more often than not is striped. “It makes them feel good knowing they’re doing it for him.”
Every month, the Moon Joggers run a virtual race timed to the full moon. They download and print out bibs with a race number and, depending on the fee they pay, earn a decal or medal. Last month, the Full Strawberry Moon race was held a week either side of the full moon on the 23rd. It benefitted Adler, who tells his story in a video on the Moon Joggers website (moonjoggers.com).
Angie didn’t just happen to know about that summer moon. Since starting Moon Joggers, she’s done a bit of reading on the subject. She learned that April’s full moon, which heralds the arrival of spring, is known as a pink one. September’s time for the full harvest moon.
“I find myself looking at the moon a lot more,” Angie says.
Unless you pay to run a virtual race, becoming a Moon Jogger costs nothing. You just sign up to be a Mini Moon Jogger (100 miles in 2013) or a Platinum Moon Jogger (5,000 miles) or pick a distance between. When you run, you log your miles online, as close to 700 people now do. Every single mile counts toward reaching a collective destination and then heading home. You’re part of a group, which provides both a comfort and a challenge.
“There are times,” Angie admits, “I don’t want to run. I’m tired. But then I think, ‘My Moon Joggers are out there.’ A lot of times, I can see the moon when I run. I run because of them. They’ve inspired me, for sure.”
Once the Moon Joggers reached the moon, they asked Angie whether they could loop its 7,000-mile circumference a time or two. Sure, she said. They did and are on their way home — for now. She hopes to make at least another trip this year.
What she wants to stress is this: Setting and achieving a goal, one mile at a time, is more far-reaching than the moon.
“If you can run to the moon, you can do anything else you never thought was possible,” she says. “We’re going to the moon! That gives people permission to dream.”