Twenty-four hours of running.
That’s what one man from Humboldt will be doing on September 20.
And he’s doing it for Humboldt’s Olympians.
Andy McAnally, an ultra-marathon runner from Humboldt, will be running for a solid 24 hours around the city to raise funds for heptathlete Brianne Theisen and bobsledder Lyndon Rush, both of whom have competed in the Olympic Games, and both of whom call Humboldt home.
McAnally is a member of Rush for Gold, Team Theisen Team Rush, a committee of citizens from Humboldt which is headed by Michelle Bankowski and dedicated to helping these two local athletes cover the cost of their training.
It was his idea to do this, McAnally noted, because of the attention he feels it will grab.
“It’s kind of a unique thing,” he said.
He had run for over 24 hours before, in ultra-marathons in Alberta.
“I’m always going off to Alberta to run,” he said, and so he decided to do it at home this time, to help out some fellow athletes.
The committee has set up a website and will be accepting pledges for this 24-hour run online. Forms are also available at a large variety of local businesses, so people can go out and collect their own pledges.
They can also guess the distance that McAnally will cover in his 24 hours pounding the pavement.
The person who guesses correctly will win two tickets to the gala dinner being held September 21, after he completes his run. The winners will also get to sit at the head table with Rush and Theisen.
All funds raised through Rush for Gold will be directed to specialized training, coaching and equipment, Bankowski said.
The first 50 people to raise over $250 in pledges will receive a limited edition, autographed Rush for Gold, Team Theisen Team Rush T-shirt, Bankowski noted.
The 24-hour run will begin at the Humboldt Golf Club on September 20 at 8 a.m.
McAnally has determined a circuit around the city that’s about 18.5 kilometres in length, or around 12 miles. He will, of course, be stopping occasionally for water, to eat and use the bathroom, but the rest of the time that day, he will be running.
Theisen and Rush will both be in Humboldt while McAnally is running around Humboldt.
“They will be there at the start of the run and available for autographs,” said Bankowski.
They also hope the pair will attend some local schools that day, to talk to local youth, noted Kate Lucyshyn, another member of the committee.
Invitations have been sent to all the local schools, and one has already signed up for a visit, even during summer holidays.
“We want them to talk to schools, to youth, to share their stories and inspire them,” said Bankowski.
“We’re trying to make this about more than these two atheletes, more about a celebration, about success, determination, drive, commitment. These are the kind of stories kids can relate to. We’re using these two athletes to inspire the community.”
The committee is challenging local schools to raise $250 for these athletes, and they will, in turn, receive a T-shirt.
At noon on the day of the run, there will be a barbecue in Civic Park, run by the Humboldt Tae Kwon Do Club.
The Bolt FM radio station, will be updating people on Andy’s position throughout the day, Bankowski added, so that those who would like to run with him can catch him at points around town.
The public part of the route will be from Water Ridge Park to Tim Hortons, she said, and then from Tim Hortons south on the old railbed that is now a walking trail out to the Kloppenburg Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Andy is excited about people joining in,” Bankowski noted.
Though there are a lot more details yet to announce about this event, it will conclude with not only a wrap up breakfast at 8 a.m. on September 21, but with a banquet that night at the Humboldt Uniplex.
Theisen and Rush will be the keynote speakers at this banquet, tickets for which will go on sale September 1.
Only 240 tickets to the banquet will be sold, and the committee is scouring the community for silent auction items. Contact Leisl at Nutter’s if you have something to donate.
“We’ve been getting a good response from the business community. It’s been absolutely fabulous,” said Bankowski.
Many people have been calling about getting banners printed to show support for Brianne Theisen, who competed at the London Olympics last week.
Those posters, Bankowski said, were printed by Graphic Ad and all proceeds from the sale of the posters go towards the Rush for Gold goal and the athletes.
While the Rush for Gold committee nails down the details around the run, McAnally is training for this test of his endurance.
Running around Humboldt will pose some challenges, he feels.
“It’s going to be mainly on pavement, and that’s harder on the body,” he said.
And psychologically, he expects it is going to be harder to do this run than ultra-marathons he has run in the past.
“I’ll be going around in circles,” he explained.
Seeing forests, mountains and hills on an ultramarathon route “keeps you occupied,” he smiled. In Humboldt, he’ll keep going by the same scenery all the time — scenery that’s already familiar to him.
He’s starting to feel a bit of dread about what he’s set out to accomplish, he admitted.
But he’s committed to doing this for Theisen and Rush.
“These people work in the background for years and years, training,” he said. “A lot of us don’t realize the effort that’s going in.... (or) the money spent for training. When it comes to the Olympics, we all want a piece of them....We take pride that they are there. I think it’s time we supported them.”