12,000 Calories, 15 Hours of Moving and $65,000+ Raised for the Bellingham Food Bank! Yay Ethan!

On July 8th, Ethan Hunger burned 12,191 calories to raise awareness for food insecurity in Whatcom County.
His day looked like this:

 2:30 am – 114 mile road bike ride
9:30 am – 1 hour HIIT workout
10:45 am – 15.47 mile run
2:00 pm – 2.99 mile swim
4:30 pm – 6.34 mile mtn bike ride
5:41 pm – 11.97 mile run

Total calories burned: 12,191
Total moving time: 15 hours
Total steps: 84,435

He also has managed to raise over $65,000 (and counting) for the Bellingham Food Bank this year.

I caught up with Ethan to see how the heck he successfully crossed the finish line again – both the physical feat and beating his fundraising goal once again. Here’s what he had to say – Genevie

Congratulations Ethan! How are you feeling and are you allowing yourself a well deserved rest? 

Hey Genevie, thanks for asking! I am feeling surprisingly good. I took the 9th and 10th off but was back working out on the 11th and have been on a consistent schedule since! 

It was fun to see you out on one of your run legs and you looked like you were moving well despite being 10 hours into your quest. Were you trying to keep up the pace throughout the day to stay on a schedule?

What a great question! At that point in the day, my main motivation was trying to stay on schedule. I had the big finish line party at Stone’s Throw with a planned 7:30 arrival and I didn’t want to be late. I had an awesome running partner, Julia Slusarski who helped me keep pace and it made all the difference in the world. 

What did you eat and drink along the way?

I had a gigantic mix of Gu’s, shot blocks, drinkable energy solutions, fruits, and bars. I drank tons of water and electrolyte mixes and they helped me maintain a consistent level of hydration throughout the day. I tried to eat and drink every 30 minutes for the entirety of the day. Some moments were more difficult to keep this up for than others, but I felt pretty consistent. 

Was it fun or a suffer-fest or a combination of both?

I had a good amount of fun this year – much more fun than last year. Near the end of each segment I kept noticing myself starting to slow down or fatigue starting to set in. One of the coolest things to see though was the power of positive thoughts. Every time I hit that point, I would actively steer my thoughts in a more positive direction and the pain or fatigue would go away.  It’s an odd feeling having so much of my year revolve around one day, so I made sure that this year it was all about having fun.

Did friends accompany you on your different legs and support you between legs?

I had SO MUCH SUPPORT! There wasn’t a single segment that I exercised alone this year. 4 people biked 114 miles, 70ish people joined for the high intensity interval training class at JD Elite, lots of runners joined for different segments here and there, 3 of us swam together, and 4 of us mountain biked. Just last year I did about half of the day by myself and this year, I had exercise partners everywhere I looked. I also had immense non-exercise support; from a lead car to make sure we didn’t get run off the road at 2:30 in the morning, to makeshift aid-stations, to people driving me around from the finish of one leg to the start of the next. And of course I had tons of help with all of the food (thank you Fairhaven Runners!) and drinks supplied along the way as well. 

I saw video from your mountain bike leg, 14 hours into being active, and you were energetic enough to be doing some tricks and jumps while riding. Any mishaps, injuries or crazy occurrences that happened that day?

Would you believe me if I said there wasn’t a single mishap or injury?! This is the first year that absolutely nothing has gone wrong; no flat tires or crashes, no pulled muscles or cramping, not even dehydration or indigestion. I felt so energized and excited the whole time! 

How the heck were you able to raise that much money?

This year’s fundraiser success was due to a combination of different things. For background, I am not a professional fundraiser. Prior to the start of this annual fundraiser (2021), I hadn’t fundraised for a single thing since the jog-a-thon in first grade. Each year I’ve done this I’ve learned more and more about how to find success. The keys to this year’s fundraising were:

1) Creating a high quality kickoff video that highlights what makes the Bellingham Food Bank so special and why donating is so important. To convince anyone to donate to anything, the WHY is so CRUCIAL.

2) Putting myself and the fundraiser in front of more people. I partnered with 15 businesses and combined our strengths to get the message out. Some businesses have passionate newsletter readers, others love hosting big events, and others have a fanbase that loves to give back. I co-hosted a silent auction that raised $2,900 from auction items and raised another $2,600 in straight up donations. I also co-hosted pint nights, a fundraising yoga class, a fun(d) run, a charity workout class, a fitness challenge (Get Fit for the Food Bank w/ Fairhaven Runners!), and a “live-match” fundraiser finish line party. 

3) Sincerely caring about the cause. I put a ton of time and heart into this project and I think it comes through pretty clearly. I had a bunch of awesome people get behind me and share the message. I could never have raised a tenth of this money without everyone who shared and promoted Hunger vs Hunger.

It’s one thing to put in all the training you did AND then to accomplish the physical feat you pulled off, but the whole fundraising part of it must have been so consuming, too. Which was harder?

This is something that I’ve spent so much time thinking about. What I realized this year is that the consistency of the fundraising is far more important than the consistency of my training schedule. I spent just as much time brainstorming, planning, and executing every possible detail of my fundraiser this year as I did training- and I spent a TON of time training. 

Fundraising is immensely rewarding and, obviously, very important. But I don’t expect the average person has any idea how difficult it is to get people to donate.

What brought you to choose the Bellingham Food Bank as the organization you wanted to raise funds for? 

I could talk about the Bellingham Food Bank for hours, but I’ll keep it short. One in five people in Whatcom County rely on a Food Bank every week. ONE IN FIVE! If you think that you don’t know anyone who goes to the food bank, you’re probably wrong. 

Food is a human right. The solution to food insecurity is one of the most direct solutions to an issue in our society today. Solution: buy and distribute food to those who need it. Bellingham Food Bank does a fantastic job of collecting food from a plethora of sources, cultivating a large group of passionate volunteers, and finding creative ways to distribute to anyone who needs it. It was an easy choice for me. Having the last name Hunger was just the cherry on top.

Where can people go to get more info about your Hunger vs Hunger campaign and is it too late to donate? 

My website ethanhunger.com/hungervshunger has a bunch of great info as well as a link to donate. Donations made through July 31st are matched! Thank you all.

What will you be doing with your time now that Hunger vs Hunger is wrapping up?

*Laughs* It’s probably time to get back to work at my real job. I’m a managing broker at Bellwether Real Estate and spend my time helping clients buy or sell property. If you know anyone looking for a personable, community-minded Realtor, send them my way 🙂 

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