15 hours of active time, ~80,000 steps taken, 145 miles traveled, 8,000 calories consumed, and 2-3 less toe nails than I started with. That’s my plan for July 16th, as I set out to burn as many calories in one day as I can. And I’ll have a damn good time doing it.
The path to get there began in a way that I imagine resonates with a lot of people in this town: the drive to push oneself, and the desire to make a difference. Sprinkle in the knowledge of how many families in our community are in need of help and you get my fundraiser: Hunger against Hunger, a Bellingham Food Bank fundraiser.
I used to hate running. I still do. But I used to, too. You know? I could withstand long bike rides, but running was a battle. Everyone knows the battle. In June, 2020 I started running. It began as me wanting to see if it was as bad as I remembered. Then it was all about seeing if it gets better after X amount of miles or hours. Then it was about seeing how fast I could run or how far I could run. It quickly stopped being about the running and more about giving myself something to do. Some way to cope with the ever changing world? Or the lack of structure that life has after school? Maybe both. Ultimately, it was something I could count on and a form of accountability. I was biking a lot as well and as the runs got harder and farther, the bike rides started to feel like rewards. A week without running or biking felt like a week without food and water. It’s funny how the mind works. How quickly something like running could go from a dreaded activity to a weekly necessity. I kept on running through the end of summer and start of fall. I didn’t really burn out, but I was looking for something to work toward as September rolled around. That’s when my buddy Austin challenged me to this fitness quest where you attempt to burn 10,000 calories in one day. I set my mind to it and in the second week of October I set out at 4:30 a.m. in complete darkness and rode my bike for what felt like an eternity. Those 101 miles on the bike were soon followed by a hilly half marathon. The activities started to blur together as fatigue and dehydration set in. A 1 mile swim, 6 mile hill climb, and 1 hour HIIT workout rounded out the day. I finished at around 8:30 p.m. and felt pretty stoked to be done. I remember saying “I don’t think I’ll ever do that again” through laughter and pain. In retrospect, the hardest part was doing it alone.
Fast forward to January and of course I’m itching to do it again, but with more training time and a proper schedule. I also realized that I had come up just short of doing an Ironman and knew that I’d have to go for it if I was going to do it again. For reference, an Ironman is 2.4 miles (3.8 km) swimming, 112 miles (180 km) biking, and 26.2 miles (42.2 km) running. When I began scheming this in January, 2021 I had a buddy who had come out to visit me for 2 weeks. His name is Jake. Jake is one of those guys that will say yes to just about anything if you’re into it. So we spent those two weeks hell bent on living life to the fullest. We went to the mountain 6 times and I taught him how to ski, we went mountain biking 5 times which was also a first for Jake. We went surfing in ice cold water twice. We did cold dips and hot tub journeys, beer tasting, running, rock climbing, and book reading. Most of all though, we talked and reflected. We woke up early and stayed up late. We dove into breakups and breakthroughs, childhoods and career goals. You know the drill. By the end of Jake’s visit, he decided that he would join me on this Ironman quest. But the even bigger breakthrough was that our 10,000 calorie day would be a fundraiser for the Bellingham Food Bank. And it blew our expectations away.
In 2021, we raised just shy of $30,000 for the Bellingham Food Bank. We burned 11,877 calories in one day. And we smiled the whole way. Nearly. There’s something about being miserable together that we found to be immensely humorous. Maybe we’re crazy, or maybe life is about coming up with insane ideas and doing them because you can’t find a good reason not to.
At least that’s what last year’s fundraiser was all about. Pushing ourselves and helping those in need while we did it. This year, the motivation has come from a different place. Over the last few months, I have seen more and more families relying on the Bellingham Food Bank. I’m talking over 3,000 families per week. Every week feels like a new record is broken; most families in one day, most home deliveries, most new families in one week, etc. And it doesn’t end there. The most inflation in over 40 years, the highest gas prices ever, another wave of covid infections… As our town continues to struggle, something has got to be done.
As much as I’m excited for another year of running, swimming, biking and celebrating, I also feel a weight of responsibility that I hope others feel as well. There are better times ahead, but in these times, our people need us.
Please consider donating today. https://www.ethanhunger.com/fundraiser
Any donation made through our fundraiser will be matched by the Jerry H Walton Foundation!
I’d also like to thank Fairhaven Runners for their donations and generosity through this all as well as our other sponsors: Bellwether Real Estate (my firm), Infusions Solutions, and 1-for-1 training.