At 5am on a late December day in New Hampshire the world is still dark. The air is cold. Little moves. If you look up and the night is clear you can see stars sparkle like diamonds of light in the night sky.
At the Y, morning regulars shuffle through the front doors, past Barb and her smile at the desk. Just about anyone who comes to the Y at 5am in the dead of winter has a purpose. On Monday, the men upstairs on the track were no exception.
At 5am, on December 29, YMCA personal trainers David Olson and Jeremy Mitchell began running. They would continue all day, running, jogging, and walking laps around the track from open to close. For 16 hours, they would move in circles propelled only by their own stubborn determination and the endless cheering of dozens of members and guests who came to support them.
What started as a dark, cold morning ended up being one of the most beautiful days I can remember here at the Y. As the hours passed and the pace slowed, the supporters kept pouring in. They shouted words of encouragement from the sidelines, waved cowbells, and offered food. Some kept a tally of laps completed and others walked or ran with Dave and Jeremy. For 16 hours, Dave and Jeremy ran and for 16 hours they were never alone.
Joined by training partners, clients, family, and friends, they ran until they could run no more, then walked until they could walk no more. By 9pm when the Y closed, they had completed a combined 140 miles, and others with them at least a hundred more. Dave finished with 949 laps (roughly 79.08 miles) and Jeremy with 726 (60.5 miles). Barb, who so warmly greeted people first thing that morning, did 8 hours of her own (an estimated 30 miles) and numerous other staff and members ran their own mini marathons, several finishing in excess of 20 miles over the course of the day. What started as one man’s goal to run for 16 hours straight from open to close ended as a whole community of people coming together to support two friends and in turn, each other.
At the Keene Family YMCA Healthy Living is a part of what we do, but our approach to healthy living is so much more than just logging laps on a track in the winter. The Y is about coming together, helping one another, and working together to reach goals we would never accomplish as individuals on our own. The Y is more than just a gym, it is a community and that is what makes it so special.
When 9pm rolled around on Monday night, I was tired. I myself had put in a good 20 or so miles and been up since 4am, all while fighting off a holiday cold. Despite the large blister on my foot, my rapidly clogging sinuses, and empty belly, I drove home feeling very fortunate to have been a part of Dave and Jeremy’s 16 hour run and lucky to work at such a fantastic place. At the Y it feels good to belong.
The 16 hour run raised nearly $1000 towards the Y’s Annual Campaign, which supports YMCA programs and also provides scholarships for programs and membership to those in need. Thank you all for your efforts and contributions!