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Meet SCC Member Donna Boots who is making the best of the crisis impacting our world. She undertook many challenges to keep her moving and motivated. Most recently she pledged and ran 52.4 miles in honor of the Global Run 2020 to support educating the Amazing Girls in Kenya. We are inspired and think you will be too!
The timing for the 2020 Global run for the Amazing Maasai Girls Project (AMGP) was perfect….October 24, the day I had already planned to complete the Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R2) at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I knew the distance would be close to 50 miles so I figured I would bump up the mileage to 52.4 to complete a double off-road marathon distance. The AMGP is such a great cause and I wanted to do what I could. Having witnessed in person how difficult life for Maasai women/girls is I know how huge an impact funded scholarships are in their lives.
My 2020 racing schedule was first impacted by COVID-19 in March when my sixth continent marathon, The Ring of Fire Ultra in New Zealand, was cancelled. Instead of letting that put an end to my racing, I started signing up for virtual events to support the racing community that I love and whose livelihood was cut off by the pandemic restrictions. I am more than just a runner tough...I am an Obstacle Course Racer, Adventure Racer, Triathlete, Orienteerer, Cyclist and Mountain Biker. Virtual challenges abounded and soon my calendar was full. Almost too full. I found myself having to get very creative to complete all the challenges.
The month of April, one challenge was to run a marathon distance a week for four (4) weeks, that combined with several obstacle course races had me running more than 190 road and trail miles that month.
At the beginning of May, I took part in Spartan Race’s Unbreakable 24-hour challenge with other racers from around the world during which I ran 53.4 miles indoors around my living room (over 2400 laps) during the first 15 hours of the event! Now that was mentally challenging. At the end of the 24 hours, I was one of the winners and won a lifetime Spartan Pass.
In June, I completed a virtual cycling challenge riding a total of 408.2 miles, which was the distance around all 11 of the New York Finger Lakes. The next month brought my first chance at a real racing again, the first was a small local trail race located near Buffalo, NY - The Tamarack Big Beast Endurance Race. It was a 1.5 mile loop with 550 feet of elevation gain. The format was to complete as many loops as possible in eight hours. I completed 18 laps for just over 27 miles and almost 10,000 ft. elevation gain - a mountain marathon! The small field made it easy to adhere to NY State's strict social distancing requirements and it was great to take part in a live event again.
My second live event was the Mt. Sparta 24 Hour Invitational in Pittsfield, VT. The course was 1 mile up the mountain with close to 900 ft of vertical gain and back down. The format was to complete as many 2 mile laps as possible in 24 hours. I persevered and completed 28 laps totaling 58 miles and almost 25,000 ft of vertical gain. Again the small invitational field of 30 runners made following safe social distancing standards easy.
Labor Day Weekend, I ran my first official 100K at the Last Man Standing Ultra in Maine, another live event. The format was a 4.2 mile trail loop, starting every hour on the hour. You had to complete the current loop and be back to the starting line before the next loop started to continue. My goal was to complete 50 miles, and I far surpassed that completing 15 loops for a total of 66.25 miles in just under 15 hours.
Mid September, I was back in the virtual race world taking part in The World Highest OCR challenge on the 19th, the day we would have summited Mount Kilimanjaro and taking part in a live Obstacle Course Race on the roof of Africa had the pandemic not postponed the race until 2021. I mapped out a 5 mile loop on Mountain Bike trails that I have carved out on my home property in Central New York State. At 7:25AM on Friday October 2, I began riding loops as part of a beta test for DUTOR (Double Ultra Triathlon Off Road). Saturday night, 38 hours later, I finished lap 45 for a total of 225 miles on my mountain bike. Riding through Friday night in the drizzling rain with temperatures dipping into the low 40’s was not only physically, but mentally challenging as well. My hands, feet and butt really began to feel the distance at around 160 miles. I gritted it out and got it done. This gave me 2.5 weeks to recover for the R2R2R.
As you can see, it hasn’t been hard for me to stay motivated during this pandemic. What started out as wanting to help the racing community that has given so much to me has turned into a year of endurance and many milestones in my racing career. Again, I find myself on the receiving end, and being able to contribute to the Amazing Maasai Girls during Global Run 2020 is just one small way. I will continue to take part in virtual events until the racing world gets back to normal. I am registered for a couple of adventure races in Florida this winter and a Snow Shoe Marathon race in Vermont in February, but am most looking forward to running the Icefjord Midnight Marathon in Greenland with Marathon Tours & Travel in June 2021. Let's hope that dream comes true!
Donna has traveled with Marathon Tours & Travel to Antarctica (2016), Madagascar (2017) and Bhutan (2018).