• Adam Wierman (left) pushes his five-month-old during the half marathon. The Rigorous Systems Research Group after the race (right).
02/22/2012 08:00:00

Run, Techers, Run

On Sunday, 19 Techers donned red shirts emblazoned with a lightning bolt—the symbol for the superhero speedster Flash—and joined roughly 7000 people running this year's Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena Half Marathon.

The runners started from the Rose Bowl, ran down the Arroyo Seco, and through Old Town Pasadena, eventually coming down Wilson Avenue on the west side of campus. The route then went the opposite direction and crossed the Colorado Street Bridge, finishing back at the Rose Bowl. For all but three of the Caltech runners, it was their first long-distance race of any kind. One veteran runner, graduate student Shuo Pang, has done triathlons before and placed eighth overall with a time of 1:15:12.

Assistant professor of computer science Adam Wierman, who is also a triathlete, was going to run the half marathon on his own when he learned that Mani Chandy, a professor of computer science, had similar plans. The two decided to make the marathon a group event for their Rigorous Systems Research Group (RSRG). Soon, despite initial reservations, nearly everyone in the group—two postdocs, two undergraduates, and graduate students—took the plunge and signed up.

Sydney Garstang, the group's administrator, designed the Flash T-shirts, which are a favorite of Sheldon Cooper, a Caltech physicist on the TV show The Big Bang Theory. The group cranked up the geek factor even more by drawing the symbol using lines of 0s and 1s—binary code that reads, "RSRG rocks the rock and roll half marathon."

They may do the race again next year, says Wierman, who ran while pushing his five-month-old daughter, Rebecca, on a stroller. "Everyone had a lot of fun—well, they had fun except for during the last mile of the race."

Written by Marcus Woo