Tag Archives: Sports

Anatomy of a 100-mile race

Fourteen hours before the start of yesterday's Chicago Marathon, four friends set off to run a total of 100 miles (74 miles to the start of the Chicago Marathon) in a bid to secure sponsors for 400 children. World Vision writer James Addis followed their progress on his own little adventure through part of the night and during the marathon itself — sometimes by taxi, sometimes by bicycle, and sometimes by train…

The assignment

What a mission! Our four runners will run 74 miles mostly along the Chicago lakefront all through the night, before reaching the Chicago Marathon starting line in time for the beginning of the official race.

The four runners are:

  • Paul Jansen Van Rensburg, 37, a pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois
  • Rusty Funk, 26, Team World Vision staffer, based in Chicago
  • Michael Chitwood, 36, National director of Team World Vision, based in Chicago
  • Hannah Covert, 24, a nurse from Arizona

They all have one thing in common: They have seen sponsorship at work in Africa and are passionate to see more children sponsored.

Saturday (October 8,2011): Let the 100 miles begin...

3:30 p.m. Team meeting in a tiny hotel room. The four runners plus several support staff. The mood is jovial. Steve Spear, a pastor at Willow Creek Church, prays for the team. He asks for protection, courage, and perseverance, should the runners feel like giving up, and also for the hundreds of children who will be sponsored and whose lives will be changed. Afterward, we wander down to the lakefront for the big send-off.

Train. Pray. Run. (6 questions with a 100-mile runner)

Superman can defy gravity. Captain America has superhuman speed and endurance. Spider-Man can scale walls. For practically every law of nature, there is a superhero who can break that natural law.

Michael Chitwood is one of those guys. Where no single person in their human physical condition should be able to do what he is about to do, Chitwood and three others are going to do just that. They're going to run 100 miles in 21 straight hours -- 74 miles through the night starting this afternoon, October 8, and then they will join 1,000 Team World Vision teammates for the final 26.2 miles of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

When Michael first told me he was running 100 miles, I, of course, didn't believe him. One hundred miles in and of itself sounds humanly impossible. And doing any sort of physical activity for 21 straight hours -- well, I don't think most of us could even sleep for that amount of time. So you can understand my fascination with understanding why this team is going to such great lengths (literally). I recently chatted with Michael to get the 411 on his longest race yet.

*   *   *

Lindsey (L): Okay, I have to ask…are you crazy for running 100 miles?!!

Michael (M): You know, I've been getting asked that question a lot lately. Really, I've been asked that question a lot since I ran my first marathon in 2003. Some people thought I was crazy to run a marathon, because I had never run and was pretty overweight at the time -- 265 pounds. Then, when I did my first Ironman Triathlon, some of my friends thought I was crazy. Then, last year, I did my first ultramarathon, a 56-mile run in South Africa…my friends said I was crazy. But for the first time in eight years, and after running all of these events, I have to admit…this one, running 100 miles, it's maybe just a little crazy.

What would you paddle 6,000 miles for?

About a week ago I got this great email from a colleague telling me all about this recent college graduate who is embarking on a 15-month adventure around the Great Loop. (I confess I didn't know what the Great Loop is so I looked it up: The Great Loop is a continuous waterway around the eastern United States and Canada... The route ranges from 5,000 to 7,500 miles, passing through many states and several climate zones. Source: http://www.paddleforwells.com)

So, needless, to say... the Great Loop is basically an extraordinary waterway that would be no easy or quick trip for anyone. And what's more? Josh Tart is going to paddle the whole thing in his kayak. (This is where you and I have the same reaction -- WHAT!!??!)

Following Coach Richt to Honduras -- a trip that changes lives

Special thanks to Steve Hummer, Sunday sports feature writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for guest-blogging this post for us. Following the UGA sports blog's May 25 post and our May 31 post, Steve joined University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt and his wife, Katharyn, in Honduras to witness World Vision's work there.


World Vision? What’s that? An optician with delusions of grandeur? A new psychic helpline? A few months ago, I had no idea.

Then there came a curious off-season story from the most watched sports beat here at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: University of Georgia football. Bulldogs fans were all atwitter over a report that head coach Mark Richt had put his vacation lake home up for sale. That prompted wide speculation that after two disappointing seasons he was selling off as a hedge against the possibility of being fired this year.

Why I run...

Maybe running's not your thing. So marathons wouldn't really be your thing. Five kilometers or 42.195 kilometers -- definitely not your thing.

Maybe your thing is music, or sporting events, or enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Now that sounds a lot more like the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

That's because this marathon isn't really your average running venture. Local bands play live music, and cheer squads line the roads every mile. Lake Washington neighbors come out of their homes to join the "crowd" en route from Tukwila, Washington, to downtown Seattle. It's a "running [and I would add, outdoor entertainment] nirvana," as the marathon Facebook page says.

'The Hole In Our Gospel' inspires football coach to sell his home

My email inbox is notorious for housing second-hand articles from my colleagues about new technology, philanthropy, trends in new media, or nonprofit stories -- my typical work-related interests. But last week, several work friends sent me the UGA Sports Blog article, "Mark Richt sells Lake Hartwell property."

When I first started reading it, I was thinking that my colleagues who sent me this must think I'm an avid Georgia sports fan, even though I went to college in California, and have never even visited Georgia (nor do I keep up with college football). My short attention span had just about given up on the article when I read this paragraph about half way down:

“Within the last year, I read this book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” written by Richard Stearns. He’s the president of World Vision U.S. I think people understand who World Vision is but, basically, they help the poor. Through their organization, you can help children, you can help build wells, you can buy them donkeys, whatever people need. World Vision helps people across the world. Well, anyway, there was a lot of statistical data in there about the amount of people that live on a dollar a day around this world. Billions of people. So I’m reading this book and it really affected me. It helped me realize that what we have is way more than we need and that our ability to give is hindered by this property. I guess that’s the best way to tell you. We just wanted to be in a better position to give and bless people that don’t have anything. We felt like this was one way to be able to do that.”

6 reasons to tune into Comrades

Fifty-six viciously long miles of uphill and downhill, racing a 12-hour ticking clock that could result in either one of the most rewarding or disappointing experiences of your life. Complete the track in time and cross the finish line -- but one second too late, and your name won’t even be recorded.

That’s the challenge seven Team World Vision runners are up against this weekend at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. After running the race last year, we’re returning to take up the ultimate cause once again -- 56 miles for 56 sponsored children; one sponsored child for every mile of the race.

That may be the only reason we need to be at Comrades this year. But here’s six more reasons for you to tune into this weekend’s race:

It’s the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon. The race is approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg (that is pronounced Peter-merits-berg) in South Africa. About 18,000 people are registered from all over the world.

To see who will cross the finish line. Comrades is a race against time -- with a 12-hour cut-off time for completion. About 80 percent of the race-finishers will cross the line in the final hour of the race. Last year, all 18 Team World Vision runners finished before the cut-off. We are hoping for 100 percent to race the clock again this year.

The brighter side of a shark bite

Imagine being a champion surfer and one day having a shark bite off your arm. Not only will you have to live through the rest of your life with one arm, your surfing career might well be at an end. Is there a bright side to this story?

We wrote about Bethany Hamilton in the Spring 2006 issue of World Vision magazine. And her extraordinary story is now the subject of the major motion picture “Soul Surfer,” due for release on April 8 and starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid.

[caption id="attachment_3598" align="alignright" width="254" caption="At the World Vision transitional housing center, Bethany talks with 13-year-old Ketsara who lost her mother and home to the tsunami, comparing the lessons they learned on how to handle tragedy and loss. (Jon Warren/WV)"][/caption]

Bethany did indeed lose her arm to a tiger shark when she was just 13, but within a month she was back in the water, trying to find the next great wave. That spirit gave World Vision an idea. Following the Asian tsunami, fishing communities we were working with in Thailand had become petrified of the ocean from which they derived their living. Could Bethany help?

Bethany traveled to Phuket, where she talked with villagers about her own devastating ocean experience. One of her key points: Shark attacks and tsunamis are rare events; we ought not allow them to dictate the way we live the rest of our lives. Bethany persuaded some village youngsters to head into the ocean with her, where—much to their delight—she gave them their first-ever surfing lesson.

Pros 4Japan in Uganda

In partnership with World Vision U.S., a group of professional football players is in Uganda this week doing humanitarian aid work with PROS FOR AFRICA. The athletes become pros 4Japan, too, helping to raise funds and awareness for children affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan

The players are asking people at home....

100,000 reasons to love the Super Bowl

Maybe you were one of the 151 million people to watch the Green Bay Packers victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in yesterday’s Super Bowl XLV. If you’re not a sports fan, surely you still enjoyed the cheeseburger sliders, nachos, great commercials, and good time with friends and family. Certainly, there is nothing quite like American football ...

Football frenzy: A super (bowl) success

On Sunday, many of us will be tuning in to watch the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers compete in Super Bowl XLV. The Super Bowl is always one of the most-watched events of the year, and I’m looking forward to gathering with friends to watch the game — and the commercials. But when I watch the big game this weekend, my mind will...