2010 Strong Kids Campaign Run

On August 3, I ran on a treadmill in the lobby of the Rochester, MN Area Family Y for 17 hours to raise funds for the Strong Kids Campaign. My family was able to take part in Y programs when I was a child because of this scholarship program. We would never have been able to afford those opportunities without the generosity of others. This run was called Mr. Parry’s Endurance Challenge for the YMCA and is one way I feel I can give back.

My run at the Y was an extension of another run I have done the last 2 years in my hometown of Stewartville, MN. I am a 6th grade teacher there and Mr. Parry’s Endurance Challenge has been an effective way for me to motivate and inspire my students, the school staff, and others in the area to get out and be active. The end of this challenge culminates in me running for 24 consecutive hours, doing a 4 mile loop repeatedly around Stewartville. Last year I completed 96 miles. This year I was able to make it 100.68 miles.

Even though my run at the Y was only 17 hours, it proved to be at least as difficult as 24 for several reasons. Boredom, body temperature control, needing to be able to visit for the entire time, and the repetitive nature of running on a treadmill all took their toll on me.

The plan was to have 2 treadmills set up in the lobby of the Y – 1 for me and the other for anyone else who wanted to show up, contribute to the Strong Kids Campaign, and run or walk for a while. The Y had put up and advertized a schedule to get people to sign up for running/walking on the other treadmill and by the day before the run, every last one of the 15 minute time slots was full! Local businesses and individuals contributed prizes for an hourly drawing. The goal of raising $1000 was set and I was off. I was not concerned with the pain that might come later in the day. I just didn’t want this fundraising effort to “flop”.

I began my run at 5am and had a phone interview that played on several area radio stations a couple of hours later while the miles comfortably passed by. Soon afterward, the phones at the front desk started ringing with people wanting to come in and run with me. One call after another I heard them say that they were sorry, the other treadmill was booked for the day, but they could come in to contribute and see what was going on. People were stopping by to see if they could run or walk with me too. The decision was quickly made at that point to pull out a third treadmill from the fitness center to allow more to participate in the event.

I passed the marathon point in 5:30 – not fast, but I had been expending too much effort and concentration on keeping my body temp down. I would run until feeling way too warm and, at times, nauseous. I would then walk for several minutes until things calmed down again. I had no breaks planned, but did allow myself to use the bathroom from time to time. I ate while walking or running in order to get in as many miles as possible.

Both complete strangers and friends came and went, telling me their stories, contributing money, and thanking me for what I was trying to do. Some had very inspirational stories about how running had changed their lives. I always love hearing stories like that! While some of the camp counselors at the Y ran with me for a few minutes, the kids in their groups cheered us on. A local TV station came by and filmed a story, which aired several times that evening. They would later call for updates on how I was doing. All was going well at that point, with not a whole lot of pain in my feet or legs.

By early evening, I was told that the $1000 goal had been met. Good. That pressure was off. I hadn’t wasted their time! By 8pm I suspected that I would be ready to be done at 10pm. By 9pm I was certain! The last hour was difficult, but my wife was there to reassure me that things would be ok. The problem was that I could see more concern in her face than reassurance.

10pm – done! 67.5 miles. Not the greatest performance, but I will take it, considering all that happened that day. We raised $1550, which will be used to provide scholarships for needy kids to attend Y camps and programs.

Very cool! Some of the discussion during the day was about planning to do it all again next year!

By the way, incase you are wondering…the pair of Brooks Launch shoes that I wore performed beyond my expectations. I regularly experience foot blistering in a run of this length. 17 hours, 67.5 miles, no blisters!