Last week was a success from all of the volunteers and help we received. Our field partner, Andrew, was visiting from Uganda and our Virtual Run was slowly coming up. In the end, the community came together to make Andrew feel welcomed and to have a record number of people running for the Virtual Run.
Andrew's original reason to travel to the United States was to attend the Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago for his NYU masters program. After the CGI, he spent 2 days waiting for buses to arrive in Newark, New Jersey. We picked him up, got him some real pizza, and settled into his new home for the next week. The first thing we did was get organized and create a game plan for when he returns to Uganda. Our goal is to begin the next phase of the project in January. For this to happen, we need to start looking at all of the data collected and consulting drilling contractors to begin obtaining the groundwater we want.
Andrew traveled to and from NYC doing small talks and giving people updates on the progress of MissionCleanWater. The one thing that amazes him the most with the USA is the diversity of food. In Uganda, unless you are in a city, it is hard to get anything different than eastern African food. Still delicious, but Andrew had fun trying American BBQ, shellfish, Spanish food, taste testing bakery sweets, and the variety of soft drinks. When not doing work, Andrew spent his time clearing the shelves of thrift stores to bring shoes and shirts back for his wife, kids, and the neighbor's children he looks out for.
As each day passed with Andrew, the Virtual Run became closer. James spent each day with Andrew, but his mind was focused on running 100 miles. He had a nutritional plan created, an expected mileage for each hour, and all the gear to be successful. All he had to do now was be at the start line alone and at midnight. Across the country, runners will be participating in the Virtual Run, so James would never be alone.
An 11:30pm alarm woke him up to start a long day, James popped a bagel in the toaster oven while getting changed, and drove the 5 minutes to Tamaques Park to begin 125 loops around the park. He started off strong, sticking to his attended pace but was quickly covering too many miles. The added benefit of going too fast meant he could slow down later and do a few slow laps with his family and friends. At 5:30am, the first group of runners came to join him to help him reach his distance. Showing no signs of issues or fatigue, James made it halfway in 10 hours. He started to cover less distance each hour but was not concerned as long as he kept moving. His legs were becoming heavy, but the option to stop for more than a few minutes was not in question.
The first body function to go south was his digestive system. At loop 84, he was not eating the way he should. The sugary flavor of his electrolyte water was unappetizing, he craved a real meal Not only was he feeling sick, but his emotions also started to swing as he tried to avoid hitting any walls. The Moms Run This Town Union County Running Club kept him great company for his rough patches. Even though while engaging in conversation he was loopy and not finishing sentences properly, his mind drifted away from the pain for a bit.
For anyone that has completed endurance distance before, even with one mile left, you could quit. Only 17 loops separated James from 100 miles but he was having a hard time standing, talking, and focusing. The countdown continued until only 3 were left. The wonderful runners with him recognized his pain and suggested he finish the last three solo. For the first time, he put in earphones, felt completely euphoric and finished at a pace similar to his first hour finished in 20 hours and 15 minutes. The moment of finishing and collapsing marked the end to a successful Virtual Run.