Why do we push ourselves to the point of exhaustion? Some exercise and others push themselves for an adrenalin rush. On July 27, we did it for charity.
The Viking Challenge is a 24-hour walk/run-a-thon where participants raised money to help benefit the Fisher House in Landstuhl, Germany.
I participated in the 2012 Viking Challenge and was not prepared for the swell of pride coupled with exhaustion I was going to experience. Starting at noon, our eight-man team was required to keep at least one team member on the track either walking or running for 24 hours; I did both.
Even though I had planned on being there the majority of the 24 hours, I never gave much thought to how far I would walk or run, until we got a few laps in and began to calculate how far we could potentially go. With many breaks to rest our feet and mostly walking, we figured we could go at least 26.2 miles—a marathon. Then and there, I decided to make that my goal.
The temperature reached a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit making the afternoon almost unbearable. Even though the sun was out and the heat was on, everyone kept a positive attitude and showed esprit de corps through the entire 24 hours.
With a surplus of upbeat music playing over the speakers, it was easy for me to stay motivated even during the wee hours of the morning. As 2 and 3 a.m. hit things seemed to blur together, then a second wind came on and I felt like I could go on forever. That was until the last seven brutal miles. “Just put one foot in front of the other,” I said.
It took everything I had to keep going. Even with the breaks, hydration and music pounding in my ears; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my team. We kept reminding each other what we were there for. No matter how bad I wanted to give up and go home, I knew that if I did, I would be disappointed in myself. I’m glad I decided to keep going because I reached 26 miles with a few hours to spare. Then I was determined to push myself to an even 30. I did it, and yes my feet still hurt. As a team we had a combined total of 184.6 miles.
During the month before the event my team took to Facebook and asked friends, family and co-workers to donate to a good cause. We raised more than $800.
Never in my life had I walked or ran more than eight miles. There was no need, but for the Viking Challenge, it was worth it.
The Viking Challenge has been, by far, one of the most intense charity events I have participated in.
My favorite part was not that I got out of a day of work, or that I got to brag to friends and family back home about what I was doing; it was getting the chance to see everyone come together for a good cause.
It was seeing the many things people came dressed as: Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Captain America, leprechauns and hippies all made an appearance.
It was hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles on everyone’s face; they knew that they were there for something greater than themselves.
There are no words to express the abundance of pride I had that my team and I exceeded our goals by pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion and beyond; all for a charity that gives back to service members in need.
Will I do it again next year? Absolutely.