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Youth At Risk: The Journey to 250 Miles Part 2

Youth At Risk: The Journey to 250 Miles Part 1

I had heard on the livestream there were runners running under a charity bib, and I was immediately interested. I had been involved with Forging Youth Resilience (FYR) Flagstaff for a few years and knew that it would be a very fulfilling reason to take on the challenge of completing Cocodona 250 if I could raise funds for FYR. FYR provides free fitness classes to youth at risk and the work they do really can change the lives of these vulnerable kids. The day the charity bibs opened, I signed up, committing to raising a minimum of $3,000, but I knew I wanted to raise more. I set my goal for $5,000 and went to work.

Forging Youth Resilience (FYR): The Cause That Changed Everything

I worked to regain full functionality in my foot, going to physical therapy 1-2 times a week.Working with a stellar coach, Cliff Pittman, got my training in order and prepared me for the race of a lifetime. Raising money for FYR under my charity bib was difficult but worth it. With so many people supporting me, I knew I had no choice but to give everything I had every day.

Commitment and Challenges: Preparing for Cocodona 250

The commitment it takes to show up every day and train is hard in-and-of itself, but I also sought to find donors and fought off injury after injury. My training was also complicated because Flagstaff, my hometown, saw one of the snowiest winters on record. It was challenging to figure out how to get my prescribed runs in, and I spent many weekends driving down to Sedona to get time on trails that would prepare me for 5 days of running.

A Strong “Why”: The Key to Completing 250 Miles

I showed up to the start line with a strong “why” and I do believe this is why I was able to complete the 250 miles. It was a life-altering experience, just as I had hoped. Every bit of elation came when I entered my hometown, knowing I was going to finish strong. I had entered depths of despair I didn’t know were possible throughout the 250 miles. I battled heat, cold, indigestion, sleep deprivation, nerve damage to my feet, blisters, joint pain, sunburn, downed trees, and most importantly my mind.

The Power of Mindset: Overcoming Mental Hurdles

There were more moments where I didn’t feel good than when I did. Despite that, I was able to focus on those positive moments. My most memorable positive moments were when I got to share miles with my pacers. Being humbled by the fact that they were giving up their time to be with me was motivating. Looking across the vastness of the mountains and valleys, I realized how far I had come. Simultaneously, I realized how far I still had to go. Grumbling through rocky sections to being elated at a beautiful gravel road, made me smile. Those moments and so many more are why I ran this.

Discovering Joy and Resilience: Lessons from the Journey

To find joy in the things I usually take for granted. To see myself in a truly raw state and see who I am underneath. It was an exploration of me and getting to know me at a core level. I did just that, and I am forever grateful for the experience of running 250 miles for youth at risk.



Aum Gandhi Run Tri Bike Magazine Co-Owner

Aum Gandhi is a social media manager, content writer, and co-owner of Run Tri Bike. An active ultrarunner, Aum has a palpable love for the sport and the trail community. His purpose in all his professional and personal activities is to inspire others by leaving a positive impact. Aum maintains a personal blog on his website in which he shares both his running exploits and features of energizing endurance athletes to all audiences. In his free time, you’d probably catch Aum reading, crewing at races, playing video games, out on the trails, or watching NBA Basketball.