Of the obscure holidays in America, March 14 is perhaps the strangest. It’s neither a mainstream holiday nor significant because of any recognizable event. What makes Pi Day special is that it shares the same digits as pi, math’s way of defining the circumference of a circle.
This year, the Georgia Institute of Technology came up with a new way to celebrate math’s biggest holiday. On March 14, the Georgia Tech campus rec department hosted its first annual Pi Day Fun Run.
“The Pi Day Fun Run/Walk was an untimed run held on March 14,” said Caroline Dotts, the associate director of healthy lifestyle programs at Georgia Tech. “The course was along Georgia Tech’s Tyler Brown Pi Mile, and we had 60 participants brave the 39 degree — but sunny — weather for the 3.14-mile loop.”
According to Dotts, the inspiration for the Pi Day Fun Run came from Michael Edwards, the senior director of campus recreation at Georgia Tech, who wanted to host the event on Pi Day and take advantage of “a few unique qualities about the Georgia Institute of Technology.”
“We have an established route around campus, the Tyler Brown Pi Mile, which is a 3.14-mile marked loop that encompasses almost all parts of campus,” said Dotts. “Also, we have a history of loving all things math, so offering a fun run on a 3.14-mile course on March 14 seemed to be a great way to integrate physical activity with a famous ‘Georgia Tech’ day.”
Very few campuses have a campus-wide love of math combined with a Pi-length track — the two are a match made in heaven for Georgia Tech.
“We play to our strengths,” said Dotts. “We have a ready-made course that fits perfectly for our Fun Run, both in distance and location, so this was a very simple program for our staff to add to our packed calendars.”
Although unexpected, unseasonably cold weather might have kept students away from the first Pi Day Fun Run, it didn’t stop people from talking about it. “While a lot of folks ended up not showing up due to the very windy and cold weather, we generated a lot of interest on social media for the event,” said Dotts.
No matter how many participated, getting students out and about was the goal of the Pi Day Fun Run for the Georgia Tech campus rec department.
“Our main goal was to offer a healthy lifestyle activity to promote physical activity on a day that is traditionally celebrated by the Georgia Tech community,” said Dotts. “We were able to impact social, physical and emotional dimensions of well-being with one fun and easy program for our students, faculty and staff.”
Getting the word out about a new event on an obscure holiday was a challenge. However, Dotts said Georgia Tech managed to spread the news across its campus-wide channels via digital signage, flyers, the website, word of mouth and emails.
The concentrated marketing effort from the campus rec department and inherent popularity of a math-themed event were critical to the event’s success. And according to Dotts, this year was just the first of what will be a very popular annual event.
“Find that special holiday that works for your campus,” said Dotts. “We had such a positive response from the participants that joined us, we will definitely be doing this again.”