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Team Runners Doing Good ’21

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“Remember when you’re in a position to help someone, be glad, and do it. That’s God answering someone else’s prayer through you.” – Toby Mac #speaklife

I saw this quote the other day and it just spoke to me and continues to speak to me. Last year, when the money we raised went to repairing or replacing 4 or 5 furnaces in the area, it really hit. The pride that NeighborLink Fort Wayne was able to do something truly impactful with our money was immense but it paled in comparison to the happiness I had for those individuals and families who now had a warm home and probably hoped and prayed for a way to fix their furnaces but didn’t know what to do. It was just an incredible feeling.

So it’s with that in mind that I’m happy to expand upon our post over the weekend that detailed a bit, our goals for 2021. It sketched out some concepts but was light on details.

Here’s some details:

We are aiming audaciously, daringly, and boldly for 2021 with the hope that it is a far happier, healthier, and safe year where the epic adventures, that we use to drum up interest and support for our annual campaigns, can be run.

What race are we running?

  • We will be running Ragnar Trail Michigan in Grayling Michigan at Hanson Hills State Recreational area. It’s 120+ miles of forested and hilly running madness. It might be 75-80(ish) miles less but this may very well be our toughest race yet.

Who are we running to benefit?

  • We are running to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne once again. They have been everything we ever could have hoped for.. They’ve been an incredible partner in this by allowing us to be true to ourselves and between a great first year, 2019, and this disappointing year, 2020, we’ve raised about $10,500 for them to date.

Who’s running?

  • It’s the same group that committed to 2020: Jenn, Cherri, Melissa, Kylie, Andrew, Michael, Chris, and myself (Gabe).

What is our fundraising goal?

  • We said we wanted to go big. We mean it. We want to raise $10,000 to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne.

How?

  • It is our belief that we can raise $6000 in private funds.
  • Our expenses for 2021 will be minimal since some has been covered already so our plan is to, through local business sponsorship, raise enough to cover our expenses and then at least $3500 that will go directly to the NLFW through the fundraiser.
  • Additionally, we’d like to sell, at minimum, 50 of our Runners Doing Good wristbands that will help generate some revenue for our campaign.
  • Add it all up, that’s $10,000

So when does this all start???

  • Beginning October 1st, we will begin pursuing and accepting sponsors for our 2021 campaign.
    • If you’re a business owner or run one, let us know and we’ll get you details.
  • Beginning March 1st, we will open up our fundraiser for private donations
  • Wristband purchases can be made NOW. Click below to buy one.

Any questions, please direct them to gabe@runnersdoinggood.com

A Runner Looks at 40: A Look Back

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5 years ago at Ragnar Chicago ’15

So 2020 hasn’t gone like I planned. There’s been some good and a whole lot of “meh.” Looking back at a post I wrote in December, just before my birthday, I had ALL SORTS OF GOALS. With what I had hoped and planned for, it was set up to be a great year.

Check out the article here: A Runner Looks at 40.

There were a lot of good intentions there, but reality didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped. I planned on setting goals for 5k’s and 10k’s, fundraising goals for the team in our efforts to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne, as well as, starting some unstated long term goals for Runners Doing Good and none of it happened.

It’s really tough to write that. None of it happened. My responsibilities changed at work and I loved it had some extra responsibilities so there was less time available and right when I was going to begin my training…quarantine. I spent 10 weeks at home working in a spare bedroom and while I ran several times to keep my sanity, it wasn’t enough. I sunk into work to take my mind off of not seeing friends and family and again, it wasn’t enough.

I had a few days in there where I was just an absolute mess and eventually had a day where I was on the verge of a breakdown the whole day. Fortunately, I have a wife who I’m blessed to be with and she arranged a socially distanced beer and pizza summit in the driveway with my best friend. It helped get my mind right, but my motivation for running endeavors was minimal. There was no Ragnar, no Sunburst, no Fort 4 Fitness, or any other race and as much as I can say I hoped I’d get the gumption to do a virtual race, it got me thinking….I run in my neighborhood all of the time. I’m not going to pay to do it just to get a medal. That might not be a popular opinion for sure but that’s where I was.

So yes, 2020 has been a disappointment but there’s still time. I’ve run 3 of the last 4 days and last night, I felt like myself out there. I was a slower and heavier version of myself last night but I wasn’t an “I can’t believe it hurts this bad to run” version of myself. It’s still not pretty but I felt like some rust was knocked off last night.

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So here’s my wish list for 2020 and into 2021 to finish this year off in a more acceptable manner and to kick a$$ in 2021:

  • For 2020:
    • Find 100 miles between now and the end of 2020 – trail, road, pathway…it doesn’t matter
    • Get back to that 210-215 range. I’ve not gotten Covid-19 but I’ve found THE Covid-19, it feels. I just can’t anymore. Whatever it takes.
  • For 2021:
    • Personal
      • Get to 190-195
      • Run 500 miles in 2021.
      • Indy Mini in May
      • Bolder Boulder in May
      • Sunburst in June
      • Ragnar Trail Michigan in June
      • Ragnar Black Loop somewhere???
      • Fort 4 Fitness in September (Triple Crown???)
    • Team
      • Refine operations
        • establish official email
        • create revenue stream
        • grow relationships
          • donors
          • sponsors
      • Establish Time Line for 2021
        • Announcements
          • Sponsorship
          • Fundraising
        • Events
          • Relays
          • Members

So again while 2020 was pretty disappointing and “eh”, “whatever”, and “blah”, the team and I are excitedly looking at 2021 thinking it could be the best ever!

Stay Tuned and follow along if you’re not already. Announcements and updates on team activity will be coming in the weeks ahead with the first announcement to be made next Monday, September 21st!

Thanks,

Gabe

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Top 11 Runners – #1 Gabe

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And topping off the mileage list, Me. I’m not going to lie, it feels really anticlimactic announcing myself since I’m the only one who’s run every single one of these races, 5 in total for 82.66 miles but I thought I’d share some thoughts and memories from years past.

Some things I remember the most in the last 5 years

From Ragnar Chicago ’15 – The night run was exhilarating, kinda scary, and SO much fun. Also running the last leg of the race…having a runner come up and run with me for about a mile and a half when I was spent and encouraging me along the way to stay running with her to keep me going. I let her go and then about 10 minutes later saw my team and then my family. It was an incredible feeling. We pulled it off!

Ragnar Chicago 16 – My first run was awesome. It was high 60’s/Low 70’s and it felt great and I got to, I believe, run through Chris Farley’s childhood neighborhood, see a few lakes…just awesome. That’s where this pic is from. My 2nd run was crazy hot. A marine passed me like I was standing still. It was awe inspiring. My 3rd run, I cramped up and couldn’t finish. Most amazing was our team battling through the heat. They rocked it.

Ragnar Chicago 17 – I probably ran as strong in this race as any we’ve run. It was also the first year that Jenn ran which was a great highlight. I also had probably my best run which was 6+ and had a runner get a 100+ yard headstart on me and I caught him around mile 4. It was a great feeling.

Ragnar Michigan 18 – The cold. I remember the cold during my night run almost broken me. In fact, I actually called my Artie to come pick me up. I’d been recovering from a hip issue and my leg was stiffening up from the cold and I was in a TERRIBLE mood and add to it that it was 3:30 in the morning and I was practically in tears so I called. What did I hear when I told him I was 2 miles out? “Hey buddy! You’re rocking it (I wasn’t. I was way over my projected pace), we believe in you and can’t wait to see you in a bit!!!” Click.

That’s all I needed to get my butt moving and I saw them in 20 minutes, stumbled to the van, sat in the front seat, and passed out for about a half hour until I woke up to him blinking out as we got within 10 minutes of where were stopping to sleep that night and wait for Van 1 to meet us for our last set of legs.

Ragnar Michigan 19 – I sought revenge on my night run. I was 3 minutes/mile faster which was awesome but I rolled my ankle halfway through, tweaking my groin in the process so it still sucked and I vowed to never run that leg of the race ever again. Beyond that, I had to flip my last run to a shorter run, which had a ton of downhill which should have been a blast but because of the groin, I just couldn’t let it rip like I hoped. It was still kind of fun. This year also was the first time we tried something different from any other race. We rented a house in a placed that was positioned midrace. It was big enough to hold us all but it worked out perfectly so that Van 1 could hand off after their 2nd set of runs to Van 2, who would take the baton and run. Van 1 would drive about an hour north, catch about 4 hours of solid sleep in an actual bed vs the back of a van, and then only have a 20 minute drive to the next major exchange. The process was repeated when Van 2 handed off to Van 1 for their last set of legs and Van 2 only had a 20 minute drive to the house, caught 4-5 hours of sleep, and then had a 40 minute drive to the next exchange. In theory it was set up to be a pretty good idea. It could have been a huge waste of time and money if the timing of everything didn’t work out. What it was though was absolutely perfect. Van 1 coming in for the last last legs looked refreshed, if not giddy and when we grabbed a shower and hit the sack at around 5:30 knowing we’d not have to hit the trail till 11, it was a thing of beauty. If we ever do a road relay again, I’m not sure if it’ll be a possibility, however, we’ll make every attempt to do that again. It was a gamechanger.

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Having done this now for 5 races, each year has brought a host of challenges related to running, fundraising, and even personnel. It’s not always easy getting enough runners. It’s not always easy getting the fundraising steadily flowing. It’s not always easy getting the right mix of runners or beyond that, runners to do this more than a year or two. It’s been uncommon to get runners beyond 2 years. It’s all hard but we’ve been able to accomplish a lot and that’s a great feeling.

2020 has been our hardest year yet because it’s led to a dead-end which is such a gut punch because of how well it started. We had our best month ever followed but not much of anything really and it all fell apart.

But 2021 looms and there’s a tremendous amount of hope that it’ll be a year that’s filled with health, hope, inspiration, with even more running and generosity. To those that have supported us over the last 5 years, the expectation is to aim higher than our normally lofty goals.

Please stay in touch because those announcements will be coming soon!

Sincerely,

Gabe

Top 11 Runners – #2 Ryan

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I say this in the most lovingly way but if Michael and Nerk are something to marvel at when they run because of their size, #2 on our list, Ryan, might make you sick at how easily he pulls this off.

Young legs certainly help as does being a naturally gifted athlete but he seriously has gone out and run almost 75 miles across 4 races. The last 2 races he’s run about 16 miles a piece and you might have been able to count the number of times he trained for it on your two hands.

If you look at that video above, it’s a whole lot of that easy striding when he runs for us and at 6’6″, he covers a lot of ground without looking like he’s trying too hard. It’s amazing to watch.

In all seriousness, it’s been awesome having him with us and right now he’s crushing it at each volleyball tourney he’s playing in and I’m not sure when we’ll get him with us again but it has been so much fun sharing this adventure with him. Hopefully it’ll work out to do this with him again, but in case it doesn’t happen, I can’t thank him enough for joining us all of these years.

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Top 11 Runners – #3 Michael

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Michael cracks our Top 3 runners in total mileage as he’s the first of the 3 who have participated at least 4 of the 5 years, and the first on the list to have topped 50 in total miles.

He could have been #1 on this list though had he checked his email in ’15. It would only take him 13 miles and 1 more race to tie our lead but such is life.

In all, though, if you want to see something impressive on a trail, this is your guy. At 6’5″ and down to 230-240 from his peak football weight of 295, he doesn’t fit the stereotype of what the typical runner looks like but he has a motor that once you start it, it won’t stop until he hands off. Someone his size shouldn’t be running low 8 minute miles but he does that and faster. It’s an incredible thing to behold.

In total, Michael has given us 69.8 miles of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan trails, roads, and highway dealing with the first two years of heat and then the clean cool air of northern Michigan the last two years and so far, is committed to our next adventure in Michigan in 2021 which will put him, most likely, over 85 miles of RNW and RDG running.

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Top 11 Runners – #4 Andrew

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Andrew joined the team in 2016 and battled through the “blast furnace” and somehow despite still claiming that he’s “not a runner” and that he doesn’t even really “enjoy” running, has been back 2 more times and it would have been 3 if it hadn’t been for a family emergency.

When we added him, we added a steadying force. His consistency is something incredibly valuable to me, as much for my spot as a captain but even more so as someone I consider a great friend. It has been special to have him on the team and people have gravitated towards him during the races.

He’s as good of a guy as there is out there and his contributions both on the course, to the tune of 49.66 miles run, and off through his constant support and willingness to join this craziness. They day he’s done might be the day we’re all done. I can’t imagine doing this without him anymore.

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Top 11 Runners – #5 Nerk

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Coming in at #5 on our mileage leader board of top runners, Nerk! It’s amazing. He hasn’t run since 2017, our last year at Ragnar Relay Chicago and he still ranks this high in total mileage.

One of our originals, Nerk was in Van 2 with Brandon, Joel, Ruso, Ryan, our two drivers, Artie and Adam, and myself. That van was easily one of the most fun ones and I’m sure part of it is that it was our first race but that van was special. So many in that van were close from childhood and hadn’t had the opportunity to get together in one place in years. It just worked out perfectly that we all had the chance to spend 2 1/2 days straight together. It was an absolute blast.

The best part of having Nerk on the team are the other teams. They assume because he’s 6’2″ish and north of 200 that he’s going to be slower but then he passes them and it just makes me laugh. I remember one group of high school kids that they’re coach told them to stay out of his way or they’d get run over!

He’s another reason why this would be what it is today as he went on to captain 1/2 of the team for 2 years and brought a good group of guys to the team. Without him and his group being a part of this and helping grow it, we don’t get from that first year to ’16. If the guys didn’t come back, despite how terribly hot it was their first year in 2016, it would have been a stretch to get to 2017. And while we didn’t have them with us in ’18, the team was pretty well functional by that point and able to exist.

So for his mileage contributions as well as being a part of something special in those first few years, a huge THANK YOU and a dose of gratitude go Nerk’s way for all he did to support the team!

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Top 11 Runners – #6 Jenn

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Easily my favorite runner, she breaks the tie with Cherri at 45 miles and 3 races run mainly due to her being our support in Van 1 for the blast furnace that Ragnar Chicago 2016.

Jenn from the beginning of her time as a part of Runnin’ Not Walken has taken on the challenge of supporting the team unlike any other member. The first year I ran, she allowed me to train for all of this while juggling a newborn, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old.

The second year, she did the same but joined us and made sure we were hydrated, etc. throughout the race. I’m still convinced that our van wouldn’t have been in the good shape we were without her insistence to drink and eat despite losing the desire to because of the heat.

Her 3rd year, she joined us with 4 weeks to train, having not run in 10 years and did an amazing job. In fact, since she’s joined as an active runner, the one thing I’m amazed at is her consistency. She admits she’s not the fastest runner but far better than I, she gets locked into a pace and can maintain that no matter the terrain.

She has become an integral part of the team and as she is with everything else, my right hand person to bounce ideas off of and no matter how crazy I might be at times, she is the constant and consistent support I need to make this happen.

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Top 11 Runners – #7 Cherri

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Coming in with 45 miles run for us over 3 relays, Cherri has a lot of experience and miles with us. She was a great addition to the team and become a good friend to many. She is able to fit into any scenario and do a great job.

While she may not be the fastest runner we have, she may be our toughest and I knew we had a good one the very first leg of her very first race with us back in 2016. The forecast was calling for some pretty good heat that day and other runners took on the same heat or worse but I’m not sure anyone took it on with so much direct heat.

Cherri’s first run took off from a school and headed out into the country and I’m not sure she ran a second of that run with as little as a leafs-worth of shade as she ventured out into the country side going down a paved road in the middle of fields with nary a tree in sight ANYWHERE. It was nuts but she plowed through it and conquered it. I can’t think of conditions quite like that in any of our races. We’ve battled cold in Michigan but you could put more layers on. With this, it was an insufferable heat that you couldn’t do anything about and she ground it out. It was awesome and we’re glad to have her a part of our team.

Top 11 Runners – #8 Matt

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According to a definition of hardcore it is: “the most active, committed, or strict members of a group or movement.” That sums up what I think of Matt. He is a hardcore runner and proud of it. He should be because he’s come a long way over the last several years.

After deciding a change in lifestyle was necessary, he’s dedicated himself to running and living a more active life. What started off as a movement to run a mile has snowballed into checking one challenge off only to look towards what the next challenge to conquer could be and currently he’s up to Olympic style triathlons. It’s incredible.

Matt started off by letting me know a couple years before he joined the team that he was available if I needed a runner. When it finally worked out, I knew I had someone who would take on any challenge, anywhere, and his stats show it.

In only 2 years of running with the team, Matt is the first runner on our list over 40 miles with 42.65 miles run during our races. He’s also the owner of the highest average mileage per race at just over 21 miles. There simply hasn’t been an assignment that he’s turned down or approached with less than 110% effort or enthusiasm and I’ve seen some of the hills that he’s had to run in Michigan. They were daunting but he crushed them. Just like he has all of his other goals.

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