136 miles in six days for MS
Pausing atop a steep California hill, Chellie deGelleke couldn’t help but grin. The ultra-marathoner didn’t think about her burning thighs or nagging ankles. Her parched mouth and sunbaked skin were of no concern as she gazed out over the boundless desert sky. deGelleke’s excitement trumped her exhaustion. She knew every mile brought these runners one step closer to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis.
deGelleke, Bus Ad ’08, ran the first leg of the inaugural MS Run the US, a charity run committed to raising funds for MS research by sending runners out to hoof it across the United States. For five months, 16 runners worked their way from Los Angeles to New York City. Each participant raised at least $10,000 for MS research.
When her friend, Ashley Kumlien, founder of the MS Run the US national event, approached deGelleke with the idea of being on the first relay team to ever run across the country, the athlete in deGelleke couldn’t refuse. Run 136 miles in six days? Bring it on.
Physically, deGelleke’s strategy was simple. “I just kept moving my feet,” she quips. At the end of each day, deGelleke crashed with Kumlien in the charity’s RV, her legs cocooned in ice to help keep her fit for the next circuit.
The mental challenge of running consecutive marathons was more trying.
“Mentally, all you’re thinking about is: ‘My foot hurts. I can’t get my legs up,’” says deGelleke. “The only way I got through it was to count down the miles left and run them in honor of the people I know with MS.”
This run, she says, is the perfect way to raise awareness of MS.
“People with MS are in a constant marathon every single day just doing daily living activities,” deGelleke says. “They feel that physical exhaustion every day. What better way to pledge my support than to try to put myself somewhat in their shoes?” — JB