Garnett is considered by some just a short jaunt from Ottawa — unless a person is running there.
People have called him crazy, David Cox said, but there’s a good reason behind running 50 miles Saturday in the Prairie Spirit race from Ottawa to Garnett and back to Ottawa.
“I’m going to do it nonstop there and back,” Cox, Ottawa, said. “I’m going to be racing in it and running to raise money for the Communities in Schools programs.”
The 28-year-old has been running since high school, he said, and has only competed in one other race as long distance as the Prairie Spirit 50-mile trek.
“I did cross-country and track in high school then I ran down in Pittsburg State,” he said. “I’ve done one 50-miler that I ran last year from Topeka to Lawrence called The Bison 50.”
The race will take about five to six hours to complete running nonstop, Cox said, a challenge that will be both physically and mentally draining.
“It’s about staying mentally focused,” he said. “It’s a lot of endurance, but it’s actually pretty painful after mile 30.”
Cox said he will load up on pasta the night before the race to store carbohydrates, and said his wife will be meeting him at various stops along the way to provide him with more fuel.
“I’ll carry Gatorade on me,” he said. “My wife is going to be my crew chief, so she’ll be meeting me at various points on the trail to hand me more Gatorade, and more Gu, which is just something that has carbs, sodium, potassium and electrolytes for fuel.”
The race is set for Saturday and will begin at Celebration Hall at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, 17th and Elms streets, Ottawa, he said, so all donations will need to be in before then.
The choice to donate money to Ottawa’s Communities in Schools — an organization that helps students stay in school by providing them with additional resources — was made after Cox said he did some research.
“It seemed like a good cause to run for,” he said. “I was asking people I knew what a good organization to donate to was and a lot of people told me [Communities in Schools].”
Donating to the organization wasn’t an easy feat, Becky Nevergold, executive director at Communities in Schools at the Ottawa school district, said.
“I immediately said ‘I can’t say yes to that,’ because we’re in day one or two of the new blackout period where we don’t do any soliciting,” Nevergold said. “I said ‘I think we have to talk to [United Way director] Meg Pearson.’ So she went to her board and the board said ‘You can’t stop someone from doing what they want to do,’ so it’s pretty cool.”
Communities in Schools is part of the United Way of Franklin County’s fundraising campaign efforts. From Oct. 1 to Nov. 15 the United Way campaigns on behalf of the organizations they sponsor to raise funds, Pearson said previously.
Cox has been working to raise funds with no ultimate goal, he said, just whatever he could give to the organization from fundraising.
Communities in Schools cannot accept his donations right away, Nevergold said, but will be able to after the blackout period ends in November.
“I think it’s really cool he wanted to do that and help us — we’ll take all the help we can get,” she said. “I think it’s neat but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to run to Garnett and back.”
To donate to Cox’s fundraising efforts, call him at (785) 304-2300 or stop by Front Row Sports, 226 S. Main St., Ottawa, to drop off donations.