Culture, Vibes, Lifestyle
Who are the Lostboys?
That is a question that I get asked literally everyday, and also a question that I generally think about an aggressive amount.
I generally, either as myself or via the Lostboys IG DMs, give an elevator pitch:
“We are not a team, we are a philosophy. An eclectic group of individuals (male and female) that has simply refused to throw in the towel on our insane goals within the sport of running. We are committed to the craft, dedicated to the grind, and linked by a shared belief in ourselves but also in one another.”
Boom. Article over.
Except, every time I hit send on some version of the above message I know I am selling the Lostboys short, because we are so much more than that: This thing that I spend so much time talking about does not necessarily lend itself to words very easily, let alone the character count allowable for IG DMs.
So, in order to help myself try and properly describe the Lostboys, let's bring it back to the start…
“I thought LostBoys was a punk band when I signed up”.
The spark notes version of the origin-story is that in the summer of 2014, 2 buddies (Jeremy Mulvey and Jerry Faulkner) and myself were traveling to small road races in New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, really anywhere within 2 hours of NYC. We would go, run a race, hang out for a few hours, and then drive back to the city.
These day trips were a way to escape the saturated concrete jungle (read: NYC is always 100% humidity during the summer) and break out of the monotony of ripping either clockwise or counter-clockwise loops of Central Park.
So, after having ran the Shelter Island 10k, we were on the 2+ hour drive back to the city and decided we wanted a team name to put down when we registered for these races.
We came up with “Lostboys.”
One fun side note is we almost went with South Eastern University Track Club. In Once a Runner (if you’ve read any of my previous pieces you know I love this book), Bruce Denton runs for the South Eastern University Track Club. I thought it would be funny because if you didn’t understand the reference you would think we were a college team, but if you knew you knew. Thankfully this didn’t happen.
But, bringing it back, that was supposed to be it.
“We are not a team, we are a philosophy...
...we are committed to the craft, dedicated to the grind, and linked by a shared belief in ourselves but also in one another.”
We had a team name for those races. We all represented different clubs so this wasn’t going to be a real team, it was just fun to put down at these small races.
It was also a little bit of a joke because NYC has tons and tons of teams and clubs and crews and whatever. And some people take their club affiliation extremely seriously, refusing to interact with individuals from other clubs or teams.
Lostboys was funny. We didn’t formally train together, we ran with whoever was willing to have us or join us on any given day. The Peter Pan reference was more of a joke than anything (more on this later).
But steadily, things started to change.
One of the coolest things about running in NYC is the sheer number of teams/crews/squads out there that are focused on the participation-side of the sport. Whether you want to get faster, get healthier, or simply do something different you can find a group meeting in nearly every neighborhood on any given day.
This is amazing.
I cannot state how powerful I think running is, and having these groups lowering the barrier of entry to the sport and making it fun is something that should not be taken for granted. They are bringing running to people that may never have otherwise ran.
“Being lost is chasing the dream”.
But, Lostboys is different.
And as we grew, we realized more and more the niche that we fit into, a niche that we believe does not get recognized enough.
This spot is something one Ben Weingart has termed the “Everyday Elite.” (I like this term and am thus stealing it)
A lot of people run in high school and college and that’s it. Sometimes it's injury, sometimes it's burnout, sometimes it's just not having the structure upon graduation, but the number of people that walk away from the sport after college is insane. They may remain connected to it, running the occasional 5k or Turkey Trot, but the approach to the sport changes.
And that’s fine, life moves on and sometimes running takes a back seat. Recognizing PRs are in the rear view is something that, ultimately, everyone needs to deal with. Prioritizing other things is important and necessary.
At a certain point in life.
For a lot of the people that go through the above, there isn’t a choice to keep running. If you can’t join a professional group, it hass become standard to simply stop running.
We exist to change that, to show people that there is a choice.
The Lostboys hold onto those dreams. They believe there is more of themselves to give, and are still out there grinding.
The pursuit of potential.
Our sharp point are those every day elite: we want to shine a spotlight on the people out there chasing down ambitious goals that may seem impossible to outsiders.
15:00 for the 5k, 5:00 for the mile, an Olympic Trials Qualifier, whatever.
We are a support system for those out there keeping the dream alive.
We want to shine a spotlight on people chasing the dream to let people know that there are others out there doing it. We want to keep that group of dreamers connected to the sport.
Those “everyday elite,” or sub-elites (cue the internet arguing none of us are actually “sub-elite”) are what we are sharp on, because we think we are relatable.
We work full-time jobs, live normal lives, and still are out there doing something about our goals.
The Lostboys in Peter Pan were a group that never grew up: We are a group that has refused to give up on our childish dreams (told you the reference would make its way back).
And while those chasing sub-elite goals are a major reason for the Lostboys existing, we have since grown to include some of the best within the sport.
Trevor Dunbar is an amazing example of what a Lostboy is at its core. Yes, Trevor is fast as fuck, but he loves the sport. That’s why he is doing it.
For the love of the game is a Michael Jordan reference that I love.
For the Lostboys it shifts: for the love of the grind.
We fucking love running. That brings us together.
And when you bring together the pursuit of insane goals with the love of running, you get 90% of what the Lostboys are and what a Lostboy is.
And that final 10%? Belief.
In fact, I would say the biggest thing that bonds the individual Lostboys is our belief.
But please note that I didn’t say unshakeable belief: we go through ups and downs, trials and tribulations, peaks and valleys. Sometimes it’s clicking and the sky is the limit, and the next day there is a nagging pain that brings us crashing back down to earth.
Part of what Lostboys do is reach for the stars.
The cute line would be reach for the stars so if you fall you land on the clouds (old Kanye, the best Kanye): The reality is in that reaching for the stars sometimes you need to take a massive leap, and in taking that leap you need to accept that you may fall. Yes, you may simply come up short; My goal at the NYC Marathon was to break 2:30 and I ran 2:31 (2:31:19...), not so bad.
But on the flip side, you may literally find yourself moving backwards when you take that leap. You are trying to do something you’ve never done before, and that can lead to burnout and injury. When I was training for my first Boston with the goal of breaking 2:40, I tried to train harder and ended up with a crack in my right foot. I took a leap and fell, far.
I didn’t feel like a runner, I was embarrassed, I cried. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and didn’t want to be around running at all because it was a constant reminder of how I’d failed. It felt fatal.
But that there is the point: Success isn’t final, failure isn’t fatal.
And throughout that injury (and the two that followed), the Lostboys were there for me. As a support system generally, but also as a reminder that it was worth reaching for those stars.
The Lostboys reminded me that there is beauty in the grind, in the process, in fighting for those childish dreams. They reminded me to keep the dream alive.
They believed in me.
And it brought me back.
“I think Lostboys ‘get it’ — they get the pursuit, the sacrifices, the belief with no evidence, and in spite of/ because of that, they believe in each other.”
The connections, the bonds, are unshakeable. We believe in ourselves but just as strongly believe in one another.
We believe in the training.
Believe in the process.
In the grind.
And we believe that it will lead somewhere worth going.
And through all that belief, we also recognize that the journey can be fun.
"Being lost to me is being and doing whatever you want. People set limitations on themselves as they grow up, which I think is ridiculous. Everyone should continue to play, continue to run as fast as they can, be imaginative, explore, and be genuine with one another."
So take a childish, absurd goal, love for the process, belief, mix in some fun, and you have the Lostboys.
The beautiful thing about that is that it can be different for anyone.
Yes, the Lostboys are focused on running. But for the people following, our approach (goals, love, belief) can be applied to anything. Soccer, rowing, work, life.
Lostboys can mean something different for anyone, and that is the beauty in it.
So what can you expect from us?
Expect us to keep reaching for the starts.
Expect us to keep loving the process and the sport.
Expect us to keep believing in one another and ourselves.
Expect us to keep having fun with all of the above.
But also expect us to highlight the process and the grind more.
“What I mean is that someone sees a race, and they think that’s what you do. They sort of know you had to train, but they weren’t watching then, so they don’t understand how incredibly much of it there is. But to us, its almost the whole thing. Racing is just this little tiny ritual we go through after everything else has been done. It’s a hood ornament.” – John L Parker, Again to Carthage.
The training is the destination; the grind is what we love. So we are going to talk about that more.
I, we, don’t care how fast you are: get out there and live the grind.
If we can encourage a few people to keep chasing the dream and grow the sport, we have been successful.
Also expect us to keep highlighting what the group means for individual members. The above pillars help define what we are, but the way each individual member understands the group does a better job of defining what we are than any of the words I’ve put above.
I’m going to leave you with some of that, but also one overarching message:
Keep the dream alive.
“Our year.” – Trevor Dunbar, the Vibey King.