ARE YOUR MILES MEANINGFUL?

POST ORIGINALY FEATURED ON WATERFI.COM 

2016-07-08 14:01:42

BY SARA K. MADDEN

When I tell people I do triathlons, races where I swim almost 2 miles, bike over 50 miles and then run a half marathon I am often asked “Why would you do that?” And that’s before I explain the hundreds of miles I log while training for the race.

For myself and the other athletes on Team Loco, racing represents a chance to make a positive impact on others. Team Loco was formed by my husband, Jeremiah, and I back in 2009 and over the past 7 years, we’ve gained a reputation as a fun team. A fun team that is also full of dedicated athletes who give back.

How do we give back? As Jeremiah explains “The act of giving back in our minds is simply volunteering, supporting charities with time or money, and supporting fellow athletes and team members.” Using sport to make a difference has been a foundation that our team was built on. We love it, and we’ve also noticed that we are much more likely to follow through with a race or event when it’s for a cause we care about. All those miles we log training and competing are more meaningful to not just ourselves but our team, when they are for a charity we’re passionate about.

Along the way we’ve found some pretty awesome events and tools you can use for helping some fantastic causes!

Events

Tour de Cure

Tour de Cure

One of my favorite memories from Ironman training is riding the Tour de Cure with our team. My training required that I do 4 to 6 hour bike rides as the Ironman race got closer, and this event allowed me to use one of my long rides to help an important charity.

Tour de Cure bicycle rides vary in distance, and raise money for diabetes research. This is not an actual race, so it’s the ideal event for anyone who wants lots of company for a ride, without the pressure of a race. The Tour de Cure cycling events are held in forty states nationwide to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Check them out to find one near you!

Bike riding not your thing? From 5ks to marathons, there are plenty of walking and running events to benefit charities. Some events don’t even require fundraising! I recently did a 5k in Hawaii that benefited a bike safety education program. My $20 entrance fee was all it took for me to give back to this local cause!

5k’s and Marathons

Running the Path 5k

Bike riding not your thing? Look into a local 5k or marathon. There are plenty of walking and running events to benefit charities. Some events don’t even require fundraising! I recently did a 5k in Hawaii that benefited a bike safety education program. My $20 entrance fee was all it took for me to give back to this local cause!

Active.com has an awesome list of upcoming charitable races near you. Whether it’s helping someone in the community with cystic fibrosis, or supporting a homeless shelter, putting your name down to show up and move for a cause will make your miles more meaningful!

Websites and Apps

CrowdRise

Over the past few years, Team Loco has given back to our local City Rescue Mission by using CrowdRise to raise money for the homeless and underprivileged in our hometown of Albany, NY. Read how, one team member, “Uncle” Chuck, even set a goal of personally raising $500 and asking for donations instead of birthday presents!

Bonfire Funds

In 2014, we used Bonfire Funds to raise money for the Capital Area Habitat for Humanity by selling t­shirts to our family and friends. That year, the team raced Ironman Lake Placid in July. Not only did we raise $1210 long before race day, but our family and friends now had official Loco tees that they wore around Lake Placid! As an athlete, seeing all those red shirts lifted my spirit over the course of a long day because I knew I had people supporting me… and they were easy to spot!

Those shirts were also a reminder to me that through swimming, biking and running I had been part of providing an affordable home to a family that needed one. Kind of makes it hard to have a bad race when you realize that!

More Than Sport

Currently, Team Loco is raising money through More Than Sport for Charity: Water, which provides clean water for those who need it most. It is a cause close to our hearts, which is important when you are fundraising and racing for a charity!

Surfer and Ironman champion Chris Lieto started More Than Sport out of his personal awareness of need in communities he raced in when he was a pro triathlete. And he created an organization that rallys athletes to do more than just train and race in these communities! I recently sat down with Chris and we talked about all the causes MTS supports through Food, Housing, Medical, Education… and you guessed it, Water. With so many causes to choose from, anyone that races is bound to find a way to transform lives that they can put their heart into!

MTS Founder Chris Lieto

Lieto himself recalled how he personally found motivation in giving back a few years ago before creating More Than Sport. He had teamed up with World Vision, which aims to get water, food and healthcare to children in need. Lieto’s goal was to get a child sponsored for any or all of the 140.6 miles he would cover while racing in the 2010 Ironman World Championships. As if swimming, biking and running those miles at a blazing fast pace isn’t impressive enough, Chris managed to get over 100 children in a Kenyan village support. Each mile was raced in support of a different child Talk about making your miles meaningful! Chris even raced with the names of the sponsored children on his jersey and his bike wheels!

Even if you are not in the position to train or race you can still help. More Than Sport has a great online shop! “We are trying to find athletes where they are at. We give them metrics and they know what the money actually does. If you can buy a shirt, then that can feed a family!” ” says Chris Lieto. You can also grab a MTS hat and provide 2 books to children in need if that’s how you want to give. No race required! I decided on giving 5 individuals clean water for life instead. It’s amazing what $25 can do. More than you think!

Charity Miles

Charity Miles is another super option. This free app allows you to walk, run or bike to earn corporate sponsorships for the charity of your choosing. http://www.charitymiles.org. So if you don’t belong to a team, or you don’t have time for a race, no worries! You can still make a difference!

Cause = Focus

Finding a cause has personally helped me stay focused when I just don’t feel like going to the gym after work, or swimming at 6am. Because every race gives me a platform to raise money for my cause through More Than Sport Charity: Water. And some little girl in Honduras won’t care if I finish first or last when her village gets a drilled well with the money my team and I raise. We don’t have to be fast… We just have to show up!

Encouragement to stay focused for your cause!

For a few more ideas of causes and races to check out, head to Active.com’s Endurance Charity Program. Because finding a cause that makes the miles meaningful will give anyone a reason to get moving!

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