If you were to challenge yourself, to do something totally out of your comfort zone what would you do? Run a half-marathon, a marathon or an ultra-marathon?
How about running for 24 hours?
Could you commit to that? What, if anything, could convince you to embark on such an undertaking?
Trey Barnes, the owner of Fleet Feet Encino, found a calling when he took over the store in 2010.
Every April, the store hosts the Victory For Victims 5K/10K Walk/Run and Kid's Fun Run which benefits The Center for Assault Treatment Services (C.A.T.S.) at the Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
Founded in 1997, in response to a community need, Northridge Hospital Medical Center’s C.A.T.S .program is the only 24 hour, 7 day-a-week program for victims of sexual abuse and assault of all ages in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys of Los Angeles County, California.
This year, in addition to the Victory for Victims events, Barnes also organized a group to fundraise for the center by running the Los Angeles marathon. Unfortunately, the group fell a little short of their initial fund-raising goal.
It was at this point that Barnes threw out the idea of a 24 hour run.
"I came up with the idea during a phone call with Gail Hynick, the fundraising coordinator for C.A.T.S. I asked how many hours a day C.A.T.S. is open. She said, '24 hours.' I said, 'That's 8,760 hours a year. What if I run for 24 hours the day before the 5K/10K this year and try to raise $8,760? That would be good amount to keep the operation going, right?' For lack of a better description, she was silent and ecstatic all at the same time."
The issue of sexual abuse hits close to home for Barnes as well. "I have many ties to this cause personally through friends and family. It's crazy how many folks are affected by sexual abuse."
The Victory for Victims events and Barnes' 24 hour run were well-timed as April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.) in the United States. The goal of S.A.A.M. is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
On Saturday morning April 14th, Barnes began his mission. He'd set a goal of 100 miles in 24 hours and planned to finish just before the start of the Victory for Victims 10K and 5K runs.
Barnes' gave this account of his run.
"The run was amazing, hard and fun. I had tons of support from friends, training group members and customers throughout the entire 24 hours. I was completely blown away and speechless by all the support I received. At mile 54 or so, my I started to get blisters on my feet. I started tearing up not because of the blisters or sore muscles, but for all the support I was getting from my team. I ran with the blisters for the next 30 miles and hobbled through the mountains. I was doing 45 minute miles due to the pain but it finally settled and I dealt with it and started running again.
The goal was to have forward progress for 24 hours, which I did. I thought 100 miles was a good goal to reach for. After the run, I had huge blisters on my feet. It hurt every step, but it was bearable."
Reflecting on the difficult course that he'd mapped out for the run, Barnes explained his thought process. "I made the course hard on purpose and wanted it to be painful because the victims go through pain when they're abused. With that course, I got the pain that I asked for and I wouldn't have had it any other way."
While Barnes' didn't reach his goal of running 100 miles in 24 hours, he did meet his fundraising goal, having raised over $9,000 for C.A.T.S. (at the time of this posting.) How many miles did Barnes end up completing? Prophetically, Barnes racked up 87 miles in his quest to raise just over $8,700.
You can still donate to C.A.T.S through Barnes' fundraising site by visiting here.
Summing up his personal philosophy about his work in the running community, Barnes had this to say, "I open the doors of the store every day to have a positive impact on the community. I have a vision of how I want Fleet Feet Sports Encino to be viewed. Everything I do is to get to that vision and dream. We're not just about selling shoes to people, we're about the people in the shoes."
Another S.A.A.M. event takes place this Wednesday, April 25th. The organization Peace Over Violence is sponsoring Denim Day, a rape prevention education campaign, where community members, elected officials, businesses and students are asked to day wear jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault. For more about Denim Day, please click here.
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