January, 2013

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Winston-Salem woman ran more than 200 miles to help raise money for the homeless

Michael Hewlett/Winston-Salem Journal

As a personal fitness trainer and an ultra endurance athlete, April Hartsook runs a lot – sometimes as much as 30 miles a day. And over 26 days in December, she ran more than 200 miles to help raise money for the homeless.

The running was part of a national project called 26X26, an effort started by her friends, Dave Carlsson and Jason Lester, ultra endurance athletes who live in Hawaii. The two each ran 26.2 miles a day for 26 days, starting Dec. 1. Lester contacted Hartsook and asked her to organize teams across the country and around the world to raise money through running.

And that’s what Hartsook did.

“I wanted to inspire my community, inspire Winston-Salem and High-Point (and Greensboro),” said Hartsook, who lives in Winston-Salem.

With that goal in mind, she used social media, her contacts in the ultra endurance athletic world, and her clients to form 10 teams. On each team were 10 people. Each person would be responsible for running a total of 26 miles in 26 days and raising at least $26.

That’s far less than the endurance athletes ran, but it still provided a way for people to get involved.

The teams included Winston-Salem residents as well as people in other states and from other countries, she said. Some were runners from the Nike Elite Camp, and others were on the USA Cycling team, she said. Others were just people who wanted to help.

Hartsook also was a team all by herself, and she ran 217 miles in 26 days. Hartsook ran in Salem Park and other places in Winston-Salem.

She said she took pledges and donations from people on each day she ran. She raised $1,800 that way.

The donations are still coming in, so it’s unclear how much was raised overall, she said.

Hartsook said that the money raised went through a PayPal account to Harvest Food Bank in Hawaii. The money was used to buy food and feed the homeless.

Lester said on his website that they were able to feed 1,000 homeless people through the 26X26 project.

“The truth is this: The 681 miles was the easiest part of it all,” Lester said on his website. “It’s not easy preparing food, serving and being on your feet for 10 hours a day. God is good.”

According to Lester’s website, he and Carlsson would meet up at 4 p.m. each day at Magic Island in Honolulu. They would feed the homeless and then run 10 loops around Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island, finishing around 10 p.m.

Though it might seem insane to most people to run that much in 26 days, it’s not unusual among ultra endurance athletes, Hartsook said.

“In the ultra (endurance) running community, it’s not unheard of to run 200 to 300 miles a week,” she said.

Many of those athletes are preparing to run marathons, and part of the training is laying a foundation so that the body can get used to running long distances, she said.

Hartsook said she, Lester and Carlsson all have different movements and organizations. And what they try to do is pool their resources to help others.

“The point is that as ultra endurance (athletes), we utilize the gifts we’ve been given to motivate and inspire people to do great things,” she said.

mhewlett@wsjournal.com

(336) 727-7326

Winston-Salem Journal Article