From September 16th through today I’ve participated in the United Way’s Run United Virtual Marathon. I signed up because FCA (my employer) does a lot of work with the United Way, and Team Jeep put out the call for people to participate. It was the first running event I could join since starting at the company in June. The goal was to raise money to help bridge the “digital divide” by providing students in Detroit with laptops and internet access.
I was thrilled to see how successful this event was. Initially people were a little skeptical about attempting a virtual event and asking for money during the pandemic but we blew past all expectations. As I write this, over $173,000 has been raised with Team Jeep contributing nearly $133,000 of that total. That’s enough to equip 869 Detroit students with the technology they need!
What Team Jeep has done is pretty amazing and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team. We accounted for 51% of the participants in the event! Even though we may have logged our miles individually, the team leaders combined with the United Way and made it feel like we were doing something really important together. We had weekly video meetings that provided updates, advice, and encouragement. It definitely helped elevate the level of excitement.
Throughout the past month I ended up logging 125 miles. I got pretty close to covering the marathon distance five times! Not bad considering how injury kept me from running for much of the spring and summer. I’ve increased my mileage gradually and realized that my long runs were building enough that I *might* be able to aim for the half marathon distance by the end of this event. Prior to the pandemic (and the injury) the plan was to run the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this day. Even though all of the plans changed, I’m glad I had something to aim for.
At 9:00 this morning there was a celebration on Zoom to cover all of our achievements and to pump everyone up for one final run. I headed out into some light rain and hoped my body would cooperate for 13.1 miles. I mapped a route that provided some great fall scenery along the way. I started out down Paint Creek Trail in Rochester Hills, passed Van Hoosen Farm, then went to Stony Creek Metropark.
While I was at Stony Creek Metropark I came across a number of people who were running their own virtual marathons. The Detroit Free Press Marathon would have taken place today so a lot of people were running that virtual event. On the cool morning with some rain, virtual event runners made up the majority of the people I saw!
I felt some tweakiness from my ankle halfway through my run. I took a little break for some photos and fortunately the issue faded and I was fine for the rest of the run. I ran a couple miles on the paved path, went past the golf course, then ran a little stretch of the mountain bike trails. The fall colors were beautiful and it reminded me why fall marathon season is so special.
I ran a short stretch on a dirt road outside of Stony and headed back toward Paint Creek Trail. When I had about a mile to go I admired a Jeep Gladiator that was pulling out of a drive across the street. I received a honk and a thumbs up thanks to my Jeep shirt! That made me smile and gave me an extra boost for the last bit of my run.
I achieved my goal and completed a half marathon! Covering the distance was enough for me and I didn’t view this as a virtual “race” or anything. I still completed it in a decent time and it was just nice to feel even more accomplished at the end of this event by hitting that milestone – a distance I haven’t covered since April.
With so much negativity and nastiness constantly dominating the news it was nice to be a part of something that was all about positivity, encouragement, and helping those in need. This is all about the kids in Detroit and it’s exciting to know that we’ve helped so many. A HUGE thank you to the friends and family who made donations. You’ve helped make a big difference for those who need our support. If there is anyone who is interested, you can still give here:
Thanks to those who followed/supported my adventure for the past month!