I have 2 inches on Kevin Hart, but the famously short comedian -- who turns out to be hilariously fit -- had at least half a mile on me.
Hart was at the front of a pack of a thousand runners who came out to a spot by the Trinity River to run a 5K. Far behind him, I had to strain my eyes to catch a glimpse of the 5'4" man's T-shirt. (Appropriately enough, it read "Shut up and run." So I did.)
I'd woken up at a bleary 5:30 a.m. with the intention of keeping up with Hart, but I'm no 7-minute miler.
But that's not why Hart started the 5Ks -- which he's done in seven other cities across the country so far. Behind the throngs of people, the free "Run with Hart" Nike t-shirts and loud pump-up music was a simple goal: getting first-time runners to take the plunge.
The event began as a "spontaneous" 5K, Hart said, but evolved as the crowds turning out got bigger. The distance had been chosen with intention, Hart said, describing it as "the perfect amount."
"This is something that everybody can do," he said.
Before the run, Hart told the crowd he'd landed in Dallas around 5 a.m. and performed two shows the previous night. Though he'd wanted to sleep, Hart said, "I'm a man of my word."
"This is not a race. I don't do it to promote it as a race. ... Those who don't work out are out here today to start," Hart said. "All I'm trying to do is motivate you to start a healthy lifestyle."
"I don't leave anybody behind. I cross the finish line first, I wait until everybody crosses that finish line," he said
In that spirit, the early-morning event had a celebratory mood about it. Pop music played from huge speakers by the start line.
Along the route, Nike employees outfitted in neon yellow shirts shouted encouragement, and at the end of the 3.1 miles, Hart was waiting with a high-five. Once everyone was done, he took selfies -- some shirtless -- with the crowd.
While runners organized by mile pace, as Hart promised, nobody got left behind. The event started at 7:06 a.m., picked in part because Nike cp-founder Bill Bowerman has said athletes won't miss practice if it's scheduled at an odd time. (Hart's run is also a partnership with Nike + Run Club.)
Hart ran the last part with the last finishers, at about 8:30 a.m.
The event was one of the biggest runs to date, said Lisa Beachy, communications manager for Nike and an event organizer. The recent Washington, D.C. 5K was the best-attended, she said.
(Though Hart tweeted that 2,000 people came to the event, and it's true that 1,750 people registered for the event online, in fact a thousand runners were actually there, Beachy confirmed.)
Hart, who said he was "fresh off vacation" in Mexico, said he'd done a few runs there to keep in shape. During one, he'd seen a snake. "That was the last day I ran, just because I knew [the snake] was there," Hart said. "I don't really do well with snakes, but I do good with people, which is why I'm out here today."
Laughing, he added, "that was a great segue. You see how I tied that in together? How do I do that? I don't know. It's a gift."
On a serious note, the funny man added, fitness was nothing to laugh about.
"At the end of the day I take my life seriously, and I think other people should too. You only get one body. Treat it well. Take care of it."
Hart is in Dallas this weekend for a comedy tour. He first announced the 5K Tuesday on Twitter, three days before the run. The next such event is Sunday in Houston, where Hart is also scheduled to perform.