The tale of the travelling vest

This singlet probably smells a bit. That’s because it has travelled thousands of miles – across international borders, oceans and finish lines – accumulating sweat from strangers participating in an internet stunt called ‘The Traveling [sic] Singlet’.

Steve Leach, a 49-year-old graphic designer and runner from Pennsylvania, US, started the project in November 2016 on the 250,000-member r/running subreddit. It has been worn by dozens of people in North America and Europe. Almost 100 others are on a waiting list to receive it (so there may be a ‘use-by’ date on this one). ‘I’ve really gotten a kick out of seeing all the places it’s gone and the people who’ve worn it so far,” says Leach.

Here, four members of the group describe their time with – and the smell of – the well-travelled top.

1/ Anna Wood

Wore it for: Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon, San Antonio, Texas, US, December 4, 2016

‘It was 40°F [4°C] and pouring rain on the day, so my muscles were seizing up and eventually my iliotibial band gave
up at mile 10. But the singlet was amazing motivation. I stuffed the envelope with pink and star sequins as a fun surprise for the next person.’

2/ Chris Steward

Wore it for: Half Moon Half Winter Run, Terre Haute, Indiana, US, December 17, 2016

‘I was so excited when it showed up that I carelessly ripped open the package, only to be glitter-bombed. The previous wearer thought she’d have a little fun at my expense and stuffed the envelope with confetti. I’m still finding those little glimmering reminders of the day the travelling singlet showed up.’

3/ Danica Priest

Wore it for: Training run 
in London, January 7, 2017

‘I’m pretty petite, so a men’s large singlet fit me like a tent. The pictures of me wearing the singlet look like the ‘after’ photos of a weight-loss commercial. I liked the idea of having a physical connection to random strangers in the running community all over the world. It’s like being able to vicariously travel and explore new places to race and run.’

4/ April Studer

Wore it for: Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon, Washington, DC, US,
March 11, 2017 ‘I was at a really low point with depression around the time of the race, and the weather
 was extremely cold that day.
 To be honest, I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed. However, when I put the singlet on, I could feel the magic powers in 
the sweat left behind from
 the previous users and I eventually found myself standing at the starting line. Simply 
put, that race sucked, but I finished it. If it weren’t for 
the singlet, 
I probably would not have gone through with it.’

To see where else around the world the singlet has been worn, visit Reddit here.