24 Hour Run (May 16, 2020)
I distinctly remember first learning about the concept of a 24 hour run (covering as many miles as you can in a single 24 hour period) in David Goggins' book, Can't Hurt Me. And I remember thinking how crazy such an event was and that I would never do something so insane. I didn't need that kind of torture in my life. As I began to push my running limits further and further, my friend, James Zygadlo, suggested that I do a 24 hour run. For reasons unknown, I almost immediately agreed, but only if he would agree to be my support crew for the event because I knew I would need help pulling it off. He, of course, agreed on the spot.
My inaugural 24 hour run took place on Saturday, May 16, 2020. I started at midnight and went to midnight so as to maximize the number of steps on my Fitbit in one calendar day because I thought that would be fun. Why? I don't know. More importantly, this effort served as a fundraiser for two wonderful non-profits based in Las Vegas: The Nevada Youth Network (http://nevadayouthnetwork.org/) and Support America's Teachers (https://www.supportamericasteachers.org/). Here are three promotional videos I posted to promote the fundraising effort leading up to the event. The first one is longer and the next two are shorter.
The leaders of our two beneficiary non-profits also recorded promotional videos leading up to the event. Here they are:
I'm proud to report that we raised a total of $10,000, half going to each non-profit. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) came through with a $5,000 donation and the other $5,000 came from many private donors who either pledged a flat amount to the effort or an amount per mile that I completed. I officially set my goal at 60 miles, but was hoping I could do more. When all was said and done, I covered more than 75 miles!
Initially, we wanted to stage the event at a local track. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible and we had little choice but to stage it out of my garage, which in truth made it pretty easy logistically as far a supplies I needed. In addition, we invited a few dozen folks who had recently completed a virtual race series that we hosted (the Quarantine Quartet) to come over during the day to receive their medals and put in a few miles with me. Medal distribution was easier to coordinate out of my garage than at a track.
I tried to get some sleep before the midnight start, but sleeping turned out to be impossible. I was way too amped up, ready to get started on this adventure. I tossed and turned for a few hours before finally giving up on sleep all together. James was going to meet me at midnight to run the first several miles with me. Before he came over, I recorded the following video, thanking UFC for their generous donation.
What follows is a rundown of the 28 distinct legs I ran during the 24 hour run. Enjoy!
Leg 1 (12:00am) (11.18 miles) (11.18 miles total)
Tony & Lark Fountain from Support America's Teacher came over a few minutes before midnight to send us off on our first leg. Tony was kind enough to make the following video, commemorating the start:
James and I headed out right as the clock struck midnight. It was still 81 degrees outside. We weren't sure exactly how many miles we were going to run together, but we were aiming for somewhere in the range of 8 to 13. It was so nice to finally be out running after all the anticipation leading up to the event. The waiting sometimes ends up being the hardest part.
All told, we covered 11.18 miles at an average pace of 10:56 per mile. We made a mistake that would come back to bite me a couple hours after we finished leg 1. Because we were running at nighttime, we didn't feel the need to bring any water with us or circle back to the house in the middle of the run to hydrate. But it was hot out. And by the time we were about 7 miles in, we were both incredibly thirsty. I had severe cotton-mouth and was desperate for water or Gatorade.
All that being said, I was very grateful that James put in over 11 miles with me to kick off the 24 hour run. He was is the midst of a running streak of around 60 days at the time (and more than 150 days at this point), meaning he had already run earlier in the day. James headed home to try to get some sleep, as he was also planning to put some miles in with me later in the day. I pounded some water and Gatorade and headed out for leg 2.
Leg 2 (2:20am) (1.62 miles) (12.80 total miles)
The temperature had dropped to a cool 68 degrees and I headed out on my own for a light 1.62 mile jog, at an average pace of 11:13 per mile. Though it was the middle of the night, I ran on well lit streets and just tried to be extra cautious when I saw or heard cars approaching because I know they did not expect to see someone running at that hour.
Leg 3 (2:50am) (1.48 miles) (14.28 total miles)
My friend, Brittney Shipp Walker, offered to run with me at 3am (what a friend!) so I ran to her house, about a mile and a half from mine.
Leg 4 (3:11am) (7.49 miles) (21.77 total miles)
I arrived a few minutes late, but Brittney was ready to go. She might be as crazy as I am. Her husband, Matt, is a saint as well. Brittney said she had a 7.5 mile course around the neighborhood that she enjoyed, so we headed out. The course had elevation at both the beginning and the end and it was definitely more taxing than I anticipated. Towards the end of the run, the uphill became a bit demoralizing and we walked part of it to catch our breathe. I brought 12 ounces of Gatorade with me, but it wasn't enough. I finished that midway through the run and completed the second half very thirsty and with cotton-mouth. Already, I was having flashbacks to the thirst I experienced during the first leg. I didn't learn my lesson. I was hurting and starting to feel heat exhaustion coming on. Brittney was kind enough to pour me a glass of water when we finally arrived back at her house. Leg 4 was one of the harder legs, if not the hardest one, of the entire 24 hours. There is no way I could have done it at that hour without Brittney by my side.
Leg 5 (4:44am) (1.49 miles) (23.26 total miles)
I felt absolutely terrible as I left Brittney's house. I was in full heat exhaustion mode. I had not hydrated enough and my body was shutting down on me. I was unable to run and decided to walk back to my house, where I was to meet my wife, Bita, for a 5:30am run. As I walked the 1.49 miles back, I honestly did not know if I was going to be able to continue. I felt horrible, struggling to even keep my 17:54 mile walking pace. I began to think about how disappointing it would be to pull the plug a mere 5 hours in, before I even completed a marathon. I thought about all the people who were planning to join me for a run later in the day, how excited they were, and how disappointed they would be to learn that I had already given up. I thought about how embarrassed I would be to have been defeated so early into my effort. I kept walking and hoped for the best. Although certainly nothing to mess around with, I had experienced heat exhaustion before and overcame it on one of my Grand Canyon rim to rim efforts.
Leg 6 (5:27am) (2.18 miles) (25.44 total miles)
Once I got home, I rested for a bit, splashed cold water on my face, and hydrated. And wouldn't you know it, I began to feel better. Game on! Bita and I headed out a few minutes before 5:30am and were greeted with a beautiful Las Vegas sunrise. We set out for a slow jog, putting in 2.18 miles at a 12:26 mile pace. The good news is that the feeling of death due to the heat exhaustion passed. I was now good to go and mentally prepared myself for the very long day of running ahead of me.
Leg 7 (6:08am) (3.33 miles) (28.77 miles total)
Two good friends, Crystal Martinez and Justin Jones, came over to join me for leg 7, which we kicked off at 6:08am, when most of the rest of the world is just starting to wake up. Crystal brought Crumbl Cookies - breakfast of champions! We headed out for an easy 3.33 miles at an 11:08 pace. Crystal took a nasty spill on the sidewalk, but bounced right back, like the champion she is. I was glad to be beyond the marathon mark for the day but, man, were there a lot of hours and miles ahead of me yet. And I knew the heat wasn't too far off.
Leg 8 (7:13am) (2.17 miles) (30.94 miles total)
I headed out for a two miler on my own at 7:13am. The temperature was still a very cool 71 degrees. I felt very fortunate for that and wanted to get as many miles in as I could before the day got hot and multiplied the effort level. 2.17 miles at an 11:53 mile pace and I had now eclipsed the 30 mile mark.
Leg 9 (7:52am) (2.05 miles) (32.99 total miles)
My friend, Shondra Summers-Armstrong, joined me for a brisk walk for leg 9. We started at 7:52am and the temperature had already risen to 77 degrees. We finished 2 plus miles at a 17:45 pace, which definitely felt on the fast side of walking, but Shondra wasn't messing around and she kept me motivated! As the sun began to rise even higher, I began to make a distinct effort to locate and move to the shady part of the street whenever possible. The sun was now my enemy and could easily derail this effort. I didn't want that to happen.
Leg 10 (8:43am) (2.19 miles) (35.18 miles total)
Leg 10 was on my own. A little over two miles at 10 minute mile pace. The thermometer read 81 degrees. I was now over 35 miles.
Leg 11 (9:14am) (2.18 miles) (37.36 miles total)
Leg 11 was a good time. Tick Segerblom and Leah Elmquist joined me for 2.18 miles around the block. Leah is an accomplished ultra-runner in her own right and she actually ran to my house from several miles away, yet she seemed fresh as can be. Tick started running recently and had stuck to it. I was delighted that we got to share a couple of miles together.
Leg 12 (10:10am) (3.95 miles) (41.31 total miles)
Leg 12 ended up being one of the longer legs of the day, but I had the real pleausre of running with two warriors, Josh Tomsheck and Marissa Temple. They are both legit trail runners and Spartan Champions. And they are fast! Leah Elmquist stuck around for this leg as well because she never says no to another run. I made them all promise that we would take it slow, 11-12 minutes miles, but you just can't hold these ones back and we ended up running significantly faster than that, with an average pace of 10:05 per mile over nearly 4 miles.
I have run this course regularly for years, but it was so nice to run it with Marissa, Josh, and Leah. I have to admit that I was fading pretty badly about halfway through, but I just kept repeating my mantra, one step in front of another. My friend, Michael Flores, was able to capture an action shot towards the end of this segment. It is the only photograph of the day that actually captured me running one of the legs.
I was now over 40 miles for the day, but I knew that the hottest part of the day was still ahead of me.
Leg 13 (11:12am) (2.05 miles) (43.46 total miles)
Micheal Flores and Connor Cain from Nevada Youth Network joined me for leg 13. And they brought a dozen donuts, which always makes you welcome at my home. The temperature had climbed to 84 degrees and we decided to embark on a two mile walk around the neighborhood for this leg. The pace was a nice change from running, as I approached the 12 hour mark of this adventure. I was close to being halfway done!
And, yes, I had a donut (maybe two or three). But, let's be real, you already knew that. And you are surprised I didn't eat five or six of them.
Leg 14 (12:12pm) (2.03 miles) (45.39 total miles)
Leg 14 continued with another 2 mile walk in the neighborhood, this time with my good friends Bob and Leinani Yosaitis. Bita also joined us. We tried to find shade, but mostly failed. I enjoyed the walking for sure, but knew that I would need to start running again, as we were now closer to the end than to the beginning. In a way, it was all downhill from here.
Leg 15 (1:04pm) (1.13 miles) (46.52 total miles)
Fueled by Taco Bell (thanks Jeff S.!), James and I knocked out a quick mile plus in the heat for leg 15. Man, it was getting hot out there!
Leg 16 (1:28pm) (2.39 miles) (48.91 total miles)
Leg 16 was a solo effort of nearly 2.5 miles at 10:34 mile pace. I tried my best to find shade along the way, but the sun was no longer cooperating. I had the 50 mile mark in my sights, which would constitute a personal record for me, as I had never before covered that many miles in one day.
Leg 17 (2:29pm) (2.34 miles) (51.25 total miles)
Tony Fountain returned to my house and we took a quick video of me running past the Support America's Teachers banner, which we put up on the fence in the cul-de-sac outside my house. Not sure I will be starring in a commercial any time soon!
As I headed out for another solo leg of 2+ miles, the temperature had increased another 4 degrees and was now reading 88. I didn't stray far from my house because I really didn't know how many more miles I had in me at this point and didn't want to get in trouble too far from home.
At the end of this segment, I had set a new daily record. My 60 mile goal was clearly going to happen and I started to wonder how many miles beyond 60 that I might be able to realistically complete.
Leg 18 (3:07pm) (2.03 miles) (53.28 total miles)
Dr. Katie Dockweiler joined me for leg 18. I really appreciated that because it was hot out and my motivation was waning. Katie always has a smile on her face and is such a positive person. So she got me motivated and we covered a tad over 2 miles.
Leg 19 (3:50pm) (1.11 miles) (54.39 total miles)
Leg 19 was another solo effort of a bit over a mile. My feet were really starting to hurt. Numbness was setting in and I still had nearly 8 hours to go.
Leg 20 (4:16pm) (1.35 miles) (55.74 total miles)
A solo effort on leg 20 brought me over the 55 mile mark. Just 5 more miles to reach my original goal of 60 miles, but I knew I had more than that in me. But how much more?
Leg 21 (4:55pm) (2.05 miles) (57.79 total miles)
I had a great time putting in a couple more miles with Sandra Jauregui for leg 21. She had recently started running as well and I had been wanting to run with her. And, again, I really appreciated that she ran with me at one of the hottest times of the day. It would have been too easy to just wait out the heat if I were by myself.
Leg 22 (5:40pm) (2.35 miles) (60.14 total miles)
Leg 22 was the hottest leg of the day, with the mercury cresting the 90 degree mark! But this leg also saw me hit my original goal of 60 miles! I was significantly hurting and really just wanted to call it a day, but I was also very excited that I had almost 6 more hours to see how many more miles I could complete. After all, it was a 24 hour run because you are supposed to keep going for 24 hours. And every mile meant more dollars for the two non-profits. So onward we went!
Leg 23 (6:38pm) (2.42 miles) (62.56 total miles)
Due to the temperature and my ever-increasing exhaustion, James and I headed out for a walk around the neighborhood. A lot about this walk reminded me of the 100,000 step challenge that James and I had completed in February 2020. Just the two of us, continuing to put one foot in front of the other, despite the pain and that small but loud voice in our heads that was telling us to just quit.
Leg 24 (7:39pm) (2.18 miles) (64.74 total miles)
The temperature stayed high, but I had 3 companions for leg 24! Leah came back for more punishment (of course) and brought Jason Bass with her this time. Eric Jeng also joined us and was kind enough to bring me a few gel packs to help me get through the rest of the night. We opted for a 2+ mile run around the neighborhood. We settled in at an 11:13 per mile pace. I would like to tell you that I could have run faster, but I just didn't have it in me at this point. I felt like it was an accomplishment to being running at all at this point and my body confirmed that with every step. My companions were gracious, as I am sure they would have liked to have run faster.
Leg 25 (8:27pm) (4.0 miles) (68.74 total miles)
Leg 25 turned into a 4 mile walk, but it was a 4 mile walk that nearly broke my spirit. How could a 4 mile walk break your spirit, you ask. Well, when I set out with James and Bita, I had intended for us to cover 2 miles. Because of that, I did not bring any water with me. Bita, however, had other ideas. She did not like my lack of a definite route and instead advocated for this four mile loop, which we had done many times before and was the same one I had done earlier in the day with Josh, Marissa, and Leah.
Mentally, I was in no shape to do anything other than agree, but not bringing water was a serious mistake. By the time we were two miles in, I was very thirsty (again!) and I was falling behind. I could no longer feel my feet and it took everything in me to just keep walking (and also to bite my tongue about the length of this leg, though my cotton mouth helped with that too).
To say I was thrilled to finish this leg would be a severe understatement. I was now closer to 70 miles than 65, but I needed to rest before I headed out again. And James and I needed to come up with a game plan for the rest of the night, as my new goal had become 75 miles, which meant I needed to cover a little bit over 6 miles in the remaining 2 hours and 13 minutes. Under ordinary circumstances, that would be a piece of cake. But these were anything but ordinary circumstances and I knew cake was probably not in my future, at least not this night.
Leg 26 (10:00pm) (2.41 miles) (71.15 total miles)
Running was becoming increasingly difficult with how much my legs, feet, and lower back were hurting, not to mention the lack of sleep that had resulted in a pretty decent headache. And the dark starts to play tricks on you - you begin to hallucinate - trees and bushes begin to look like nocturnal animals. Our game plan for the next two legs was to complete two laps of a 1.2 mile loop, jogging one lap and walking the other for each leg. Then we intended to close it out by walking until midnight. Here was our first 2.41 mile effort that took me over the 70 mile mark for the day!
Leg 27 (10:40pm) (2.42 miles) (73.57 total miles)
And here was our second two loop effort, this one a tad bit slower. As I crested 73.5 miles, we had a few minutes to rest before heading out for the final leg. But we had to make sure to time it right because it would be a shame to reach midnight with fewer than 75 miles. The end was so very close.
Leg 28 (11:26pm) (1.67 miles) (75.24 total miles)
At one point in the evening, James and I had tentatively planned to mix a celebratory cocktail and take it with us on the final leg for a Sin City worthy celebration. When James suggested abandoning that plan, I was very relieved because I felt like hell and was worried that even the sniff of an alcoholic drink would actually make me physically sick. To say my feet hurt at this point would perhaps be the understatement of the year. I couldn't feel them at all any more. Where my feet had been, I just felt numbness. I only knew they were still there by looking down at them. Every step of this last walk was a STRUGGLE. But you know what, WE DID IT! 24 hours in the books.
75.16 miles. 16 hours, 30 minutes, and 4 seconds of the 24 hours in motion. Average pace of 13:10 per mile. 2,836 feet of elevation. 10,244 calories burned. 161,581 steps on my Fitbit. One hell of a ride.
Would I do this again? I'm not saying yes, but, then again, I'm not saying no. Stay tuned.
Special thanks to Bita, James, and Crystal, who did the hard work of crewing me and making sure I stayed on track and well nourished and hydrated. Nobody accomplishes something like this on their own and this effort was no exception. I'm so thankful for all who joined me in putting in some miles. It lifted my spirit. I only completed 18.5 miles solo, meaning I had friends with me for over 57 miles!
I am also grateful to all who supported this effort financially: Ultimate Fighting Championship, Sally Yeager, Brittany Shipp Walker, Michael Chang, Tony Fountain, Courtney McKimmey, John Fudenberg, Daniel Thornton, Eric Jeng, Kris Kolhoss, Rhondell Augustine, Desiree Reed, Itai Dinour, Jennifer Lavasseur, Richard Metzler, Gia Massa, Jeana Taylor, Barbara Gerhardt, Andrew Patterson, Crystal Martinez, Tick Segerblom, Tom Edwards, Shannon O'Toole, Vincent Nava, Paola Armeni, Lesley Cohen, Brad Smith, Alfredo Alonso, Eva Segerblom, Gabriela Dunne, Bita Yeager, Rebecca Paddock, Bob Masters, Justin Jones, Sandra Jauregui, Adam Kramer, Erin McMullen, Shondra Summers-Armstrong, Brett Hagerty, Claudia Ahumada, Misty Grimmer, Bart Patterson, Bob & Leinani Yosaitis, Dan Hamilton, Laura FitzSimmons, Alex Espinoza, Georgene Louis, Marissa Temple, Christy Craig, Anne Pearson, Andrew Ayala, Connor Cain, and Marissa Crook. You guys rock!
Steve Yeager is an ultra runner who rarely turns down a challenge. When he is not out putting miles on his shoes, he practices law and serves in the Nevada State Legislature. Steve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his very understanding and patient wife, Bita.