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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

As athletes line up behind the start line, they think about the long journey ahead. From sunup to sundown and to sun up again, these runners are putting in their all to accomplish as many miles as they can in 24 hours. This race takes place in Hampton, Virginia in a 456-acre environmental education and wildlife park, Sandy Bottom Nature Park at the end of April each year. Using a 3.75 mile loop that runs along Interstate 64, runners are able to have their laps recorded and take a break at their tents whenever possible. This year the weather was nearly perfect; it started off with some humidity and rain, but finished beautifully.

How does a 24-hour race work?

An ultramarathon is anything over a traditional marathon distance (26.2 miles). It can also be categorized by time; 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours. Since this is an open race, many people show up when they want to, accomplish however many miles they can or want, and then leave. For the professionals, they’re waiting at the start line at 7 a.m. and are usually still running until 7 a.m. the next morning. While that may seem like a long time, (it is), they still stop and take breaks for even up to an hour. Eating, staying hydrated, resting, and changing shoes, clothes or socks are key to lasting as long as you can. People take different strategies for running an ultra; some run for as long as they can and then walk the rest of the time, and some do on-and-off running and walking. Either way, running the entire duration of the race is nearly impossible.

For me, this was my sixth year running the race, and my dad’s tenth year. We have always run it together, although over the years I haven’t been able to stay the entire duration since I am a college student. The most I completed is 52.2 miles and my dad’s record is 63 miles. Runners can either receive a 50, 75 or 100-mile plaque for the race or a 500 mile jacket and 1,000 mile belt buckle for the total years depending on how many miles they complete. This year, my dad had completed a total of 500 miles since the race first started, so he was awarded an embroidered jacket for his accomplishments, as well as a “Legacy bib” for being a top returning runner. We connect through running, so showing up every year isn’t a tough choice for me. 

This year I had the opportunity to talk with the race director, Tim Scott, about his history with the 24-hour Run For Cancer:

Interviewer: “What made you want to be the race director for such an impactful cause?”

Tim: “I ran this race back in 2007, which was my first ever ultra marathon so it was very special to me. The previous race director and founder, George Nelson, decided that he was going to take a break, and asked me to stand in his place.”

Interviewer: “How much money has been raised for cancer so far?”

Tim: “For this year’s total, it is unknown at the moment, however over $300,000 has been raised for the American Cancer Society in Hampton, Virginia since the race was first started.”

Interviewer: “Is it challenging to have to take on a more administrative role rather than running?”

Tim: “Yes, you always have to look at everything from a cost and experience perspective. For example, although it is nice to have, we can not give out many “flashy” free items, since this race is funded by volunteers and donations.”

Interviewer: What is your favorite ultramarathon?

Tim: “Besides this one? A 500k across five states I ran was a life changing experience for me.”

The Virginia 24-Hour Run for Cancer is a race that anyone can run (or walk)! Show up when you want, stay for as long as you can, and have fun! The environment surrounding this race is very special, and everyone is always kind and motivational. While this is a race, the competitive aspect is minimal unless you are attempting to break a state or course record. Most people show up to have fun and run with their family or team and have a good time.

Hi! My name is Kayla, and I am Mechanical Engineering Technology major, with a minor in engineering management. I am the Wellness Editor of our chapter here at ODU!