In the matter of about a week, we’ll publish our campaign’s final numbers. Not long after that, we’ll update Runners Doing Good’s stats in our Team RDG: By the Numbers series. If you’d like to see what we’ve done in past, please click here.
Beyond that, the question ultimately turns to “What’s Next?” It’s a valid question and 2 weeks post Ragnar Trail Michigan with nearly 8 1/2 months of fundraising and running, some time is necessary. It’s at this point that I always feel a sense of burn out for something that I honestly love doing.
I love fundraising and pointing this little ship towards some level of do-gooding as we hope to make an impact of some type. The running event, while insane in many regards, has truly become the bonus of it all. It’s both a great vehicle to get people’s attention and support as well as well as the reward of going into something, that many would say is crazy, which is an incredible challenge with people that are second to none. Ultimately, it’s about the people, both those impacted and those hitting the trails.
With the toll a Ragnar takes on a person combined with the fundraising campaign that was, by far, the longest of all time, the answer to “What’s Next?” is more difficult than ever to arrive at because I simply don’t know.
After each of these, especially with the level of success we’ve had, there is a certain sense of accomplishment and pride and I definitely have that. I am more than satisfied with the effort we put forth, proud of the team’s efforts for The Dees, and content in this.
Beyond this, I have a growing family and a loving wife that deserve time. It’s never convenient to step away for 3 days or so and one that has become more common with the kids over the last year or so, having spent so much time with our kids through the pandemic, is that our kids have struggled a bit with the separation. They’re not little by any means, but they’re not big either and part of me doesn’t want to put them in a position where they’re blue for a weekend until we get them. We’ve truly been blessed with grandparents who are so willing to take them so that we can do stuff like this but it is taking a bit for them to get back to a comfort level, even with family, and so that’s a bit of consideration for us for next year.
Ragnar is an amazing experience but combined with a fundraising campaign, especially 8+ months worth, I am sometimes tired by the time I get there, let alone the constant thoughts of how someone’s doing, hoping people are having fun, and just the worry of injury that did manifest itself this year.
I’ve led 7 of these which means both operational, running, and fundraising responsibilities. I would love to run a Ragnar, as twisted as this sounds, just for fun. I’ve been seeing all of these photos and videos online of Trail Tahoe, Northwest Passage, and upcoming races in Minnesota, and I’d love to do this in a different location where all I do is pack my clothes, show up, and run. There’s so many cool people out there that I’ve met online that are Ragnar Ambassadors or Boco Ambassadors who are incredible runners. I’m not sure they’d want an “Average Joe” like me, however, it’d be fun to be a part of that with no responsibilities other than to get there and back, run, and soak it all in.
It’d be awesome to run with my friend Tim from Colorado, whom I’ve never met. Con Justin Grunewald to run a Brave Like Gabe Ragnar team in Minnesota and see how fast it can go despite a slow-ass like myself. Haha. Or just hop in a van or on a trail with some of the most dedicated social media Ragnarians like Emily from Arizona, or Becky and Kyler from Florida.
I can also see myself stepping away from the format altogether for a year. I’ve never run a 1/2 marathon. I think it’d be awesome to train, on my own time, for something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve train for and run a particular race…just for fun. The Fort 4 Fitness is celebrating it’s 15th Anniversary on October 1st. That could be pretty neat to do it here in my hometown or travel downstate and run the Indy Mini.
I could even see myself biking. Jenn might kill me for saying this but I’d like to get a road bike. I have a hybrid and I had a client tell me that once you get one, you’ll want to get others. I can see doing a bike ride that, operationally, is smaller in scale, but from a challenge, is bigger. What about riding the length of Indiana? That could be pretty interesting and I know folks that would come along for it and while it’d not be easier, from a simplicity standpoint, doing an event like this could be easier from the logistics and expense of it.
Ragnar will always call me and I’m not sure I could ever just give it up. Maybe a year reprieve could be a refresher, but how much would I miss it?
There are 2 things that I’ve thought about doing that I am going to explore and that’s the thought that if I ever do a full on fundraiser to benefit someone or something combined with a Ragnar or other large scale event, Runners Doing Good won’t come back without being a non-profit. It might not be easy to gain sponsorship, but if you can get the business community behind you, operationally, it makes everything so much easier and lengthens the depth of the fundraiser because you don’t have any expenses coming out of it.
If it’s possible to get sponsorship again, then the ability to widen the net and spread the word about our efforts in a more effective way is certain something that would need to be done. Again, it wouldn’t necessarily be easier but we’ve been asking friends, family, and acquaintences to support us for a long time. We need to get more of the casual supporter both locally and abroad to get behind us and getting that non-profit status will make it much easier to appeal to private donors and sponsors alike.
Lastly, and maybe most realistically of all goals, I think I’m going to write a book. It won’t be terribly lengthy, I’d imagine. It might be some sort of a How-To combined with the tales and lessons of the trails that I’ve experienced along the way. There are folks that are far more qualified as experts in running and fundraising than I am, by far. There are people who have done more Ragnars in 1 year than I’ve done in total, but I think there are things that I’ve learned along the way that speak to how an epic event like this can be leveraged to make an impact around you and in you. I’ve always been a tad wordy so I might as well use that to my advantage and scratch an itch I’ve had along the way here.
Finally, the support of Runners Doing Good has been amazing. We easily raised more from private donors than maybe any year yet. Our ability to leverage that through matching grants, helped us push our total higher than we’ve ever been. It’s humbling and exciting, all at once, to see our totals growing and expanding at the rate that it did this year. Yes, those grants made the dollars blossom in a way that was incredible but we wouldn’t have been able to harness that power with our you.
It has always been those family members, coworkers, and connections that have propelled us forward. We’ve had 36 different runners since 2015. We’ve seen everything from downtown Chicago, Lake Michigan’s shoreline – both eastern and western, the neighborhood of Chris Farley’s youth in Madison, Grand Traverse Bay, the suburbs of Milwaukee, and the forests and hills of northern Michigan. It has been a colossal adventure and it was ONLY through the support of YOU who have had our back because of the causes we’ve championed.
Thank you all so much. I look forward to answering “What’s Next?” in the coming months.
Gabe & Runners Doing Good