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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.

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Winston-Salem Journal Article

The Nation’s Triathlon – To Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Nation's Triathlon 2012

Nation's Triathlon 2012

Since the inception of this partnership in 2008, The Nation’s Triathlon to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has raised more than $11 million to help find new and better cancer treatments.

The 2012 Nation’s Triathlon course is one of the most spectacular and athlete friendly courses in the world winding past monuments, memorials and history through the Nation’s Capital.

The swim takes place in the scenic and calm Potomac River where you will swim past Arlington Cemetery and under the Memorial Bridge twice. The swim start is next to the transition area and the finish line so family and friends can watch more of your race.

The bike route is flat and fast winding past the Potomac River, the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, United States Peace Institute, and Kennedy Center. There is no bike course like it in the world.

The run route is a challenging and beautiful single-loop that takes competitors past the Tidal Basin, Jefferson Memorial, National Holocaust Memorial, US Mint, Haines Point and more.

The finish line is adjacent to the transition area and swim start making it ideal for family and friends. The Finish Line Festival has live music, free food for athletes, free post-race athlete services and instant results printed for you right when you finish!

Iron Woman Competes for Fallen Friend

April Hartsook Ironman Triathlon

April Hartsook Ironman Triathlon

Noted fitness instructor April Hartsook has entered the prestigious and grueling EnduraFit Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, which takes place June 10 in Cambridge, Maryland.

The Triathlon involves a 1.2 mile Swim, a 56 mile Bike ride, and a 13.1 mile Run “The Ironman race is really a test of your physical and mental toughness”, said April Hartsook. “It’s also a chance to compete against professional tri-athletes from around the world” .

But April’s participation isn’t just an extension of her work as a personal trainer and fitness instructor.

“I chose to do this event as a demonstration of my personal fight against ALS, which took the life of my friend and mentor Jon ‘Blazeman’ Blais,” said Hartsook.

Race officials say that this year’s Ironman event will present great challenges due to extreme conditions such as heat, winds, choppy waters, and lack of shade.

“This Ironman competition is not as tough as Jon and others who suffer with ALS, but I race because I can. I hope that by raising awareness, we can raise enough money, so that one day soon we can find a cure”, said Hartsook.

In addition, at the conclusion of the event, special recognition will be given to some of the outstanding participants.

“In honor of Jon, we will be giving the Blazeman Spirit Award to Ironman athletes who exhibit the spirit which Jon shared with all of us!” said Hartsook.

To make a donation visit

To register for the event visit

For more information on My ALS DONATION WEBSITE visit

Here is a link to why IRONMAN EAGLEMAN IS IMPORTANT. I won this in 2010: