The Gonzalez Family with Maria Gonzalez on the right in silver.
I first heard about the Gonzalez tragedy last Wednesday. Almost immediately I wanted to help in some way. I'm not even sure why but I did. Maybe it was the two Red Bulls I had just slammed mid afternoon at work, maybe it was because of the size of the family left in the wake of it, maybe just because....sometimes people just need help.
So when I heard about it and how shaken everyone at work was I felt I had some way of helping. I could run.
So I went back to my office and within a few minutes I had a full plan in the works. I would run for 24 hours and ask for pledges of any variety of dollar amount and the total donation for each person would be their pledge times the number of laps I completed. It was a take on the "Bowl-a-thons" we used to do back in Vermont with the Boy Scouts. I'd get my family to pledge a nickel or something per pin I'd knock down as a 9 year old. Then i'd go out and crush it and come back asking for $150. This was nothing like bowling but I felt it could work.
So I ran with it. I had three courses mapped out, calls into parks, race directors in the area and before the day was out I had it rolling. The family needed money now not in a month so I knew it couldn't wait until after Thanksgiving. I was already planned to do a double crossing of the Grand Canyon on November 2nd so it would have to be the following weekend, November 10th. I'd have 9 days to prepare for what is hopefully 100 miles.
As soon as I sent out an email to my entire hotel company, Hotel Valley Ho and the Sanctuary Resort & Spa, I had a massive response.
Everyone wanted to help Ana's family out. In any way they could. See, Ana is the niece of Maria Gonzalez and has worked at our hotel for probably five years. She's the sweetest, kindest, most good natured young woman you'll likely find and has always been that way since I met her.
So the pledges started to come in and within an hour we had over a dozen pledges totaling over $15 per lap. Then I posted it on Facebook and my friends in the running community chimed in with an equally overwhelming response. Friends I hadn't heard from in years, people I see every day, small amounts and huge amounts, people pledged with their hearts for these children and the totals rose with every day.
Then we sent out a press release and the pledges rose once again. At the end of today, Thursday the 8th, we are sitting at $39.74 per lap.
If I can make it to 100 miles on 24 hours that's almost $4,000.
It is surprisingly difficult to secure a location to run for 24 hours.
In the age of liability and lawsuits, so many roadblocks out there. City parks are not an option despite many being very sympathetic and wish they could help. Even the Indian Bend Wash, a seemingly "open" park system can't allow a runner to run loops on the multiuse path despite being able to run through the park at any time of the night. Police and Fire need to be alerted in nearly all areas and really, just one problem after another. It would seem that nobody wants to allow a random guy to run around in circles all night.
So I'm just going to pick my own course and found one that is 1.0 miles around and on trails in one of the parks in town. It has its own access without having to leave a vehicle on park property and has only 46 feet of gain in one mile loop, or only 4,600 over 100 miles. It's far more mentally engaging than a track or paved loop with many dips, weaves and turns through the desert. It's exposed of course but does have some tree cover here and there and overall, a course I think I can run for 24 hours and not go completely insane.
I'm just praying that should some well meaning Park Ranger come see me running around the desert at night Saturday night, to please understand the reason behind it and kindly look the other way. I'll pick up every piece of trash in sight and leave it in much better condition than found. I can guarantee that and just hope it can be a live and let live situation.
I have run 100 miles once in my life. Over a year ago at Cascade Crest 100.
It took me 28 hours.
I tried again in May on a self supported run and made it 85 miles in 26 hours.
I've run 50 miles over a dozen times.
Twice on a loop course.
But never 100 miles on a loop course.
I've never ran a hundred miles in under 28 hours technically.
But I know I can do it. So I will.
I'm a man that needs goals and here they are:
6am Start Time
50k in the bag by noon. 31 miles in 6 hours.
By 6pm another 31 miles or a 100K in 12 hours.
It's dark at 6pm here in Phoenix now and I'm sure I'll be slowing down by then if not sooner. But it's a great start to the last 12 hours where I want to keep plugging away. Without the big climbs to slow me down in other races I can keep hiking at least at a faster pace. The trick is not stopping every mile and visiting with people that stop by to say hello and cheer me on. Just keep going.
By midnight, 18 hours in, I want to be at 80 miles.
That leaves 6 hours to put in a final 50K. I think I can do it and if I'm not broken by then with blisters or injury, if I'm just tired and fatigued, I know I can pull it out with the barn door in sight. That would give me a total of 110 miles in 24 hours.
Ambitious? Sure. Especially given the above facts and what I've accomplished in the past.
But then it's not really a goal of any value if it's easily attained. Plus, I've never been motivated to keep going in a lap race like this before. Every lap I complete is more money for the family. Every lap is $40 that can pay for clothes, food, funeral expenses, living expenses, whatever they need in taking care of these 9 children. That's far more motivating than some belt buckle that you get no matter how long you take. It's not about personal pride or sense of accomplishment this time. I feel as if this has nothing at all to do with me but everything to do with helping this family.
So despite being sick throughout this week with a cold, missing Tuesday at work due to being sick, and never having accomplished that level of miles in this amount of time....I feel driven and ready to take this one. The weather should be perfect for it, 64 degrees and partly cloudy with a low of 46. This entire week it has been 90 and 65. Suddenly tomorrow it drops down and then the lowest high temperature of the month and lowest since the summer started happens to be Saturday?
I see that as a good omen.
So while we are really close to the day I still have one more day to collect pledges and try to get to my stretch goal of $50 per lap. That is $10.24 more but a significant one. If you'd like to pledge and help out the Gonzalez family please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on this website. Or on Facebook. Or at 480.248.2012. Or 480.415.5315. :)
Thank you to everyone that has pledged already, offered to help, plan on running some laps with me. All of you are incredible and makes me proud to call you all my friends. Many people talk in the political world, the social world of opinions and the image is sometimes painted of a gloomy future in our society. Of everything going downhill.
Well, I disagree. The flooding of well meaning friends, families, coworkers willing to help out people they've never met before, simply because they were in need is a powerful message to those that think otherwise.
So when it comes down to it on Saturday night, when I'm tired, sore, blistered, beaten, hungry, exhausted and maybe even bored...I just think of things like that and I think about what the family can do with $40 if I just get my head out of my ass and hurry up and finish this lap.
I think that's enough alone to get through 100 miles.