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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Top 11 Runners – #9 Greg

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At 37.8 Miles, the 2nd highest average per race mileage, and one of the very fastest runners we’ve ever had, Greg comes in at 9th in our Top 11 runners of Runnin’ Not Walken.

Greg was awesome to have on the team, along with his brothers that joined us for 2 years, ’16-’17. The Schortgen boys took the relay by storm and although he might have been quieter than the others, he was one of our workhorses we hitched our wagon to during that time. He just ran effortlessly and it was fun to watch.

Fun fact, in 2017, in a pinch for a runner with a guy dropping out 3 days before the race, Greg convinced his then girlfriend Tayler, to join our adventure and a van of 5 guys to take on the Ragnar Chicago course from Madison to Chicago in some decent heat that year, although not like 2016’s race, and they survived! Fast forward a couple years and they’re married and just had their first child! How awesome is that?!?

Top 11 Runners – #10 Kelly

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Kelly, a newer runner to the team in 2018, she’s run with us twice and left a mark, did a ton of good, and cracked our Top 10, just eeking out Courtney’s 36.5 with her own 36.8 miles between her two races in ’18 & ’19.

When she joined the team, she brought and exuberance and energy to the team that was infectious and brought that to not only the team, the race, but to the fundraising part of the equation as she got coworkers, clients, family, and friends of hers donating and following along.

In 2019, she also conquered what will probably always be the longest run of anyone on our team. With us down a runner due to a family emergency, we were scrambling. Along the way, she volunteered to jump out and take a portion of one of that team member’s runs, which would have preceded her run and add it to hers.

So she took off, came into the exchange and back out to run hers, totaling a Ragnar Leg medal-worthy 11+ miles in one stretch, battling some wind and rain as well. It was an amazing effort and one that won’t be duplicated any time soon. She should be truly proud of her efforts.

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Top 11 Runners – #11 Courtney

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Courtney Took on the Ragnar Leg in 2017!!!

Courtney is one of our originals. She joined us in 2015 and was the only member of the team that had ever run a long distance style relay race. Her knowledge of what to expect was extremely valuable and it helped guide the younger Wisconsinites in the van she rode in back during that first race from Madison to Chicago.

She also joined us again in 2017 to make that trek, riding and running in Van 1 with Jenn, Artie, Michael, Andrew, and myself. We had an absolute blast with her as she was jammin’ out to Apple Bottom Jeans as she was getting herself set to run. She tackled the Ragnar Leg, all 7.8 Miles of the Deep Dish Leg of the race and crushed it.

In fact, she was so fast that although we got to the exchange fairly early and she caught us, especially Jenn, off guard. Jenn had just gotten her shoes on, stretched out, and was headed to the bathroom when all of a sudden Courtney popped up! She was FLYING!

Also, she is supremely talented and created our Runnin’ Not Walken logo for which we used for 3 years worth of tshirts.

If you think that’s cool, you should check out her website where here talent is on full display as she is a supremely talented graphic designer and photographer. Check out Hardy Design & Photography!

In all, between two different tours of Runnin’ Not Walken, Courtney ran 36.5 miles of Ragnar Relay craziness with our team. She’s easily one of my most favorite people who have ever run with and I’m still holding out hope that somehow I can convince her again someday to run with us again.

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I Miss My Team

All of this time off and races cancelled and it’s gotten me thinking about what I’ve missed this year. It was supposed to have been a big year. I had put some lofty goals for myself out there and largely, I’ve not gotten close. Between the pandemic and everything going on, admittedly, my motivation has been about to zero, and I think I’ve been able to pinpoint it.

I miss my team. Usually there’s an energy about what we’re doing that’s palpable. It makes you, at least for me, accountable to the team to train, get in shape, and be able to run a race with some level of ability so that you’re shouldering your fair share. Things pop up before a race (twice) or during a race, more than once, where you have to pick up and run with the ball for someone else so if you’ve trained well enough to cover your distance and then some, it’s important.

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I miss preparing to meet that challenge because of the awesome people that have been on our team. So, it got me thinking. I already did a Top 10 Moments & Memories countdown. It’s hard to pick just 10 people to profile, however, I think it’d be cool to do a leader board countdown based on our mileage over the last 5 years.

I’m the only one who’s run all 5 races so I’ll do a Top 11 with my spot at #1 being a quick review of why I love our team, Ragnar Relay, and some general stats on our team’s actual mileage since 2015.

The first one drops tomorrow!

Thanks,

Gabe

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It’s Time to Look Towards 2021

“A Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road….Unless You Fail to Make the Turn.” — Helen Keller

Maybe not for you but for Runners Doing Good, it is time to change course and look towards 2021. This year, like it has been for so many, has been a year that has been very trying and fraught with uncertainty.

There were some definite highs. We officially kicked everything off in March with the hope of getting out to a fast start in our fundraising and boy did we. We ended up raising more than $1400 which was all matched so we ended up just short of $3,000 in total for March. That provided us with our best fundraising month ever in the 5 years and 6 campaigns that we’ve run. The last 3-4 days of the month, when Covid-19 was really starting to take hold in Indiana, were our best fundraising days. We were able to scrape together a bit more beyond the end of March, but that’s about where everything ended.

When Ragnar was forced to postpone and then cancel Ragnar Trail Michigan, that really killed anything momentum we had at the time. Without a functioning running team that was working towards training for the event and drawing friends and family members in to support them in this quest to take on something epic, it was very difficult to continue those efforts.

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I held onto the idea that we could continue on with running the Fort 4 Fitness and invited others to join the team as part of Team Runners Doing Good with much smaller fundraising requests, etc. and as race after race cancelled, the enthusiasm and any momentum there waned as well. The F4F is still on, for now, but people’s positivity towards running in groups at the moment is pretty minimal.

As I stepped away a few weeks ago and had some time in nature, this year’s campaign has been an underlying thought in the back of my mind. What do I do with it? We have never fallen short. In another year, the accomplishments of March would have lead us considerably farther than where we finished this year but the feeling that it is finally time to face reality has set in.

Is it disappointing? Yes. There’s a lot of this that has been that. Is it failure? I don’t believe so. Our first year, we hoped to raise $1,000 and scratched and clawed as a team to get to $2,250. In our second year, we set a $2,750 goal and finished with over $3,600. In perspective, we eclipsed 2015’s goal and final tally, and 2016’s goal, and only came up less than $600 short of it’s final number…..all in only really 30 good days of fundraising.

It believe that while we’re short of our goal it does show how far we’ve come. This has snowballed in a delightfully surprising way. I never would have ever guessed we’d raise $1,000 much less $3,000 in a year and now in what could be called a “down year”, we raise more than that.

So with the above quote in mind, we’re making the turn towards 2021 with great excitement. It’s exciting to think about a time where hopefully (crossing my fingers) our world may be a healthier place where events with groups of runners can take place, where we’re not quarantined at home, and where hope and optimism reign supreme.

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We’re excited for a time where there’s less uncertainty in the world where businesses can embrace charitable activity with less concern for their day to day operations, where families don’t have to worry about whether donating to a cause negatively impacts their household.

2020 has been crazy BUT we’re excited to go big in spreading goodness in 2021. With making this turn in the road towards 2021, it allows us to plan more and to potentially kick off 2021’s campaign sooner. Some of our expenses are already paid for so we’ll need less sponsorship in 2021 to meet those demands.

A special thanks to all of you who have supported NeighborLink Fort Wayne through us this year. We’ve raised more than $3,000 which brings our total for them to more than $10,000 in 2 years of fundraising. That’s something to be proud of even if we wanted to push that much higher. An official total will be issued within the next week when it’s finalized.

Thanks goes to Sami Blair and the Fort 4 Fitness committee for giving us a chance to partner with them in our wristband initiative. I have a strong interest in coming back with that again in the coming year. It’s an idea that I still believe can make an impact for them, NLFW, and Runners Doing Good and I look forward to taking another swing next year.

Lastly, with fewer expenses to cover and more time to plan, expect for us to aim much higher than we have in the past. We’ve never come up short and while that’s not necessarily our fault, we look at those goals as a promise, and the goal in 2021 will be to grow this in a much bigger and bolder way, making up for what we couldn’t this year.

2021 is going to be exciting! Who’s with us?!?!

“If You Aim Higher Than You Expect, You Could Reach Higher Than You Dreamed.” — Richard Branson

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