After the Boston Marathon bombings occurred on April 15, ultra-athletes Frank Fumich of Arlington, Va., and Matt Nelson of West Palm Beach, Fla. decided they wanted to help victims' families in the best way they know how: by running.
Both are seasoned veterans in long-distance races, each has an impressive running resume that includes dozens of ultra-marathons. But both say that helping the victims of the marathon bombings and raising awareness are the most important things.Nelson founded Endurance Trust in 2005 to use endurance sports as a way to raise money for charity from membership fees, sponsors and private donations. For this endeavor, they used the Boston-based web site FirstGiving to solicit donations.
"We decided that if we wanted the money to go directly to those who needed it most then we would have to deliver it to them personally," said Fumich, 45. "We figured the most appropriate and fitting way would be to run it up there."
Fumich and Nelson will attempt a 450-mile course from Washington D.C.'s 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to the Boston Marathon finish line starting on Tuesday at 6 am. They will run marathon-distance routes, each completing 26.2 miles alternatively and rest while the other runs, an estimated 250 miles per runner over the span of five days. They are expected to finish on June 1 around noon.
"We're going to run the last marathon together, starting at the Boston Marathon starting line and run the last 26.2 into the city, past the bombing sites, to the finish," said Nelson, 48. "That's the goal."
The course will consist of running through 10 states and the two will be escorted by local and state police throughout the journey. The duo will run past some of the country's most historic landmarks, which was important to both runners. They even decided to veer off the most direct route of the course twice to be able to include Delaware and Rhode Island in the course.
"We wanted to make sure to get as many states involved as possible," said Nelson. "We want the people there to know what we are doing and why we are doing it."
In terms of speed and recovery, Fumich and Nelson have a detailed time-distance strategy that allots for slow 6-hour marathons. This allows for extended rest and refueling periods.
"The key to recovery will be icing our legs, jumping into 20-minute ice baths, getting our legs elevated as soon as possible," said Fumich. "We'll eat, lay down and just try to rest as much as we can."
Traveling with an entourage of police and supporters, the extra built-in time will benefit everyone, not just the two running.
"It'll also be good for our volunteer team because if we finish early, we have time to stop and regroup," Nelson said. "Timing for us is based on coordination to build support and build knowledge so we can get people aware. There's still a lot of need, thereís still a of people who are hurting. We want to make sure people keep it in mind.
"I mean, it could've been my family," he added.
After well exceeding their originally fundraising goal of $26,200 by raising $52,000, Fumich and Nelson set a new goal of $78,600 that they hope to raise by the time they finish the run. The money will benefit the Richard family and Jeff Bauman's recovery efforts.
The Richards lost their son, Martin, in the Marathon bombings and his mother and sister suffered devastating injuries, while Jeff Bauman lost both of his legs. Fumich and Nelson plan on presenting checks to Bauman and a representative of the Richard family after completing their journey.
"I can't imagine what itís going to feel like," said Fumich about presenting the money to the victims. "Weíve gotten pretty emotionally involved with the process and the families. I know what it means to them and I always say if things donít hurt in life, it wasnít really worth it. The more this hurts, the more it means to me. It's what's going to power me on. Just thinking about that moment is what is going to fuel us, which is the most important part for me."
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes