Fourth annual (virtual) AEA5k 2022

Announcement abt the virtual 5k for economists and econ-ish runners

Three years ago, myself and Daniel Bergstresser (Brandeis) organized a 5k race at the ASSA meetings. We called it the 1st Annual EconTwitter 5k bc at that time, it was really something for the economists on Twitter (called #econtwitter).

The purpose of the AEA5k was really simple: wouldn’t it be nice if we just had a simple platform to bring economists and economist-ish people together to run for the sake of building a sense of community, networking, making friends, and running. After all, isn’t one of the best things about a 5k the morning of the race, the adrenaline, the hanging around seeing all these people doing the same thing of you, doing something competitive and yet not competitive with one another? It’s the community atmosphere that makes races so much for me.

I made shirts (my favorite part). As it’s a common meme in my circles that Stata has the worst graphics compared to R’s -ggplot-, I thought it would be funny to make a shirt that was the worst possible graphic I could make with a caption that said “whats ggplot”. At the time I came up with that idea, it struck me as hilarious but i’m not sure many people got it.

Phil Oreopoulos from the University of Toronto won the whole thing. Prizes for top 3 male and 3 female runners (whose names I apparently never wrote down) are somewhere in this directory but I can’t find them) were to go through a dictator game where in order of 1st to 3rd coin flipped for male or female, runners could pick their most preferred autographed economics book. We had books by Roth and Sotomayor’s classic book on two-sided matching, Goldin and Katz’s book about technology and education and several others. The original plan was to handicap runners by age using an Restat model by Ray Fair and Edward Kaplan’s 2018 article “Estimating Aging Effects in Running Events” but I kid you not, when I opened my laptop to calculate the adjusted times at the finish line, my computer decided to upgrade its operating system and so we just gave it to the fastest three. It was a lot of fun. 100 people came and ran.

2nd annual 2020 AEA5k — San Diego

This year we moved to our new branding of the race, the AEA5k, as it was no longer the domain of people on twitter if it ever really was anyway. The 2020 race was held in San Diego I think. It was a beautiful day for a run. We ran in an evening bc we didn’t want people to miss their 8am panels, but in the end, it was just as complicated logistically. This time, I designed this shirt with a quote from Robert Gibbons’ game theory book that I’ve always thought was funny.

“Assume goats are continuously divisible.”

I hired an actual graphic designer that year because I had a tee shirt image in my mind (one of the goats being alive but sliced in half) and since I have no artistic talent, I thought it would be better to have someone competent draw it. I thought they turned out great.

That year we had more prizes too — age, for Stata users, R users, econometricians, theorists, you name it. My favorite new prize though was the Caplin-Nalebuff award given to the runner who came in at the 64th percentile in honor of their 1988 Econometrica “On 64% Majority Rule”. But, that year I couldn’t take pictures because it was pure pandemonium getting all the shirts and prizes distributed in almost complete darkness because as it turns, out when you have a race in the late afternoon, you’ll typically finish in the dark. 200 people came and ran.

Third annual 2021 AEA5k (virtual race bc of covid)

Then COVID hit. And the ASSA was canceled. But Dan were fully aware of the importance of both continuity, but also community, so we decided the race must go on. So, this time we had a simple idea — from December 1st to December 31st, you can run as many 5ks as you wanted. You just pick your best time and with a photograph of your time and distance (like a watch face) upload it to a google form with your name and time. This time, we had 300 runners. And the shirts were really beautiful. I’m not exactly sure what the back of the shirt meant with a distribution of times wherein the central part of the distribution is your personal record (“PR”) but your actual draw from that distribution is beta hat. I think it meant that we all believed that we were always doing better than our personal best, which is a good feeling to have I thought.

With the help of many friends, this time we had a live video award ceremony with the awesome Luke Stein (Babson College) as the emcee. Dan stole the show with his hilarious comedy sketch presentation at 15:26 below. You can see all the awards in this video.

But more than that, the enthusiasm on Twitter among the runners that month was really spectacular. 300 people signed up that year. And every time they ran that month, they would post pictures enthusiastically of their time. It was a really wonderful experience for me to see it and know it was meaning a lot to the participants from all over the world.

Fourth Annual 2022 AEA5k (second virtual race)

Which brings me to the announcement. Me and Daniel Bergstresser are organizing the virtual race again. It’s virtual because as you know the on-site ASSA has moved to video conferencing. But the rules are the same as last year: you have a full month to run as many 5k times as you want to run. Then whenever you want in that window of time, you’ll post your time to a Google form that I will post December 1.

First, who is invited? Answer: anyone who can be thought of as “Econ-ish”. What’s “econ-ish” you ask? It means PhD economists, as well as anyone who has ever taken an economics class and liked it. It includes editors at Econ journals, employees in the Econ department or organizationally affiliated to economics in some way, shape or form. And that’s really all we require to run the race — you are at minimum organizationally affiliated or have taken economics courses and absolutely loved them all the way up to being employed as a professional economist. We will also accept the Secretary of the Treasury if she is so inclined.

Like years past, we have really nice shirts. We are using a vendor this time to mail them directly to you because the last three years, as I alluded to, was absolute mayhem to distribute. Last year in particular about 300 shirts sat in my hallways for months as I procrastinated at the prospect of individually mailing each of them. But eventually we got them all of most all to their destinations. But no more. This year you buy them directly from this website.

So, everyone reading this, chances are you are econ-ish evidenced by your interest in causal inference which while that isn’t obviously the domain of economics, I am an economist, and so I assume there is some associative matching. But even then, we would absolutely love to have you participate. It’s a great way to feel connected to others in community. Lord knows sometimes it can be quite lonely out there. If you are interested, we ask that you would register on this google form so that me and Dan can send you updates as the race nears.

You have plenty of time to train for a 5k as late as December 31st and you absolutely have it in you to run one! So please run one with us!

Feel free to share this with anyone you think qualifies as econ-ish. Send it to your econ-ish acquaintances, in fact, regardless of if they’re a runner bc anyone can run 5k.