Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 13, 2013
Looking for a jolt of motivation, I dropped by the Back on My Feet Austin In24 race last weekend.
The event, which included a 24-hour solo race, a relay, 5-mile pajama run and a Sunset Run, raised money for the non-profit organization, which uses running as a way to help homeless people regain independence.
Not only did I get a huge hug from Lauren, who lives at the Salvation Army and has been running with Back on My Feet since January, I met some pretty amazing athletes.
Lauren spent a few hours at the Camp Mabry race site Saturday evening, handing out water to folks participating in the 24-hour run. She returned Sunday morning to participate in the 5-mile Pajama Run herself. She practically bubbled over with enthusiasm as she told me about her new job at the Hyatt Place hotel, where she helps keep the lobby tidy and visitors happy.
That gave me pause. So many people I know complain about their jobs, no matter how steady or high-paying. Lauren, though, can’t stop talking about how she’s going to use her position as a foot in the door. She wants to go to climb the corporate ladder. She wants to get an apartment. She wants to leave the Salvation Army shelter.
She wasn’t the only one who lit some motivational flames under my feet.
I stopped by the race site Saturday night and again Sunday morning to check on the progress of the athletes participating in the 24-hour race. Among them were twin sisters Jamie Doty and Jackie Dobson, 48, who were taking a quick break as the sun rose Sunday.
"The charity itself is unbelievable, and the joy for running makes a good combo," Dobson said, sipping on a bottle of water.
"It’s a great program, so inspiring," Doty added.
Neither woman had trained for the long distance, but with less than 4 hours to go they’d already covered 60 miles.
In all, 42 people registered for the 24-hour race. One runner was pulled off the course during the night for dehydration.
Doug Long, 31, of Fort Hood, was just waking up from a two-hour nap in a volunteer’s car when I talked to him at 6:30 a.m. With 101 miles under his belt, he was well in front of the pack.
"It’s always 3 a.m. that gets me," Long said, describing the low-point of overnight races. He’s training for the Badwater Ultra Marathon in Death Valley this summer.
"His body was fine; his brain was snoozing," a volunteer chimed in.
Axel Reissnecker, 59, had gone more than 70 miles when I met up with him, and was getting ready to turn in the towel when he hit 75 miles.
Before you mock him for stopping after 75 miles, consider this: He had his left kidney removed six months ago because of cancer. The Back on My Feet event was just a way to ease back into running.
"I like to run," he said. "I’ve already done more than 20 100-mile races."
How’s that for inspiration?