When thinking about philanthropic giving, there is a common misconception that the only way to give is to write a check for a lumpsum of money. The reality, however, is that there are many untraditional ways to give, especially to the Foundation for MetroWest. Take it from Andrew Beckman, an ultramarathon runner who ran 56 miles and 17 hours to raise money for the Foundation.
A longtime resident of MetroWest, Beckman has fond memories from his childhood in Framingham. He is a graduate of Framingham South High School, and a current Framingham resident. Beckman now has two children who attend Framingham High and is proud of his connection to MetroWest, which is why he chose to run a self-guided ultramarathon to raise money for the Foundation.
This interview has been edited for conciseness.
The Foundation: Can you talk about the process leading up to the run?
Andrew: I think most people would be surprised at the amount of planning that goes into an ultramarathon, which is defined as any run over 26.2 miles and is typically 30-100 miles. I have spreadsheets detailing everything I might need for the day, including clothes, food, hydration, gear and first aid. My weekly training usually included 1-2 long runs (10-15 miles) and 3 short runs (3-5 miles). Bear in mind, trail miles are run at a slower pace than pavement or track miles. The hills and uneven terrain almost make it impossible to get into a steady groove and zone out. Constant focus is both important and exhausting.
The Foundation: What about the day of the run?
Andrew: The setup for the day included an Aid Station in my front yard, consisting of an open-air tent with table, cooler, food/water, chair and supplies. My plan was to run loops or “out and backs” of 5 miles, allowing consistent opportunities to visit the aid station for refueling. Unlike road marathons, trail ultras require frequent eating to have enough energy to burn calories for 12-30 hours. My foods of choice were watermelon, cheese quesadillas, bacon and dark chocolate M&Ms. During the day, I had several runners (and 1 mountain biker) join me for portions of the run. It was great to have company and support during those long hours. I ran a casual pace and took my time at the Aid Station, refueling and talking to visitors. After 17 hours and 56 miles, I decided to pull the plug. Exhaustion got the best of me.
The Foundation: Had you ever done anything like this before?
Andrew: I have run a handful of ultramarathons and typically look forward to a summer event. Of course, COVID has sidelined most organized events, so I decided to create my own. I figured I could have people “sponsor” me by liking a Facebook post I set up. Each like would equal 1 mile I’d run and $1 donation I’d make to a local fund. In addition, several friends were inspired to make their own donations. I was thrilled to see that!
The Foundation: We’re so fortunate you chose to run on behalf of the Foundation for MetroWest. Why us?
Andrew: I think it’s important for people to invest in their communities. I wanted to be able to have a direct impact locally. The Foundation for MetroWest is a wonderful organization and an obvious choice.
The Foundation: Any words of encouragement for others trying to raise money for a cause they care about during this unprecedented time of need?
Andrew: We can all make a difference, but we don’t have to wait for others to show us the way. Get creative and think of what excites you, where your passions are and how you might inspire others to give. People will respond to that enthusiasm and want to be part of it.
We are proud to have the support of Andrew and are fortunate that he chose to run on the Foundation’s behalf. As part of our ONEmetrowest campaign, we are encouraging local residents to get involved with the Foundation’s mission and help make a difference in their own backyards.
One of the ways you can do this is by setting up a campaign fundraiser to help us reach our goal of 1,000 donors by December 31. As we continue to navigate this pandemic and respond to the critical needs in our region, we need our neighbors to stand by us, so that we can continue to do this important work.
Thank you, Andrew, for your support.