Running 100 miles... $100 for 100

Only one-third of one percent of people have attempted to run a 100-mile ultramarathon race in the United States. Less than one-half of that small group finish. Participation in this kind of high-level sporting event is out-of-reach for many people, even athletes at the top of their game. In 2019 there were 177 100-mile ultra races with 9,822 finishers.

But now, everyone in Portage County can participate in a 100-mile race – virtually. With the help of Lindsey Loftus, Executive Director of the Portage Foundation, anyone who wants to experience a 100-mile race can do so – by joining the Ultra ’21 Society and help the organization he serves continue its important work in supporting the community.

“I’m running the Burning River 100-mile Ultramarathon to create awareness about the Portage Foundation” said Loftus. “My goal is to finish the race in 24 hours or less. I’m dedicating this run to the people of Portage County and more specifically to the people that can’t run.” The long distance also speaks to Loftus’ approach to managing the Foundation. Loftus notes, “Our work is about our commitment to helping our community over the long haul.”

To join the Ultra ’21 Society go to: https://portagefoundation.org/ultra-21-society/ultra-21-society-join-today/

Loftus is collecting testimonials from fund holders, grant recipients, and scholarship recipients asking them to share their “WHY,” and points to a particularly meaningful reflection on “WHY” from George Callahan, a Burning River 100 participant in 2018. When asked why he made the run, Callahan stated, “I was never distraught or in a place of fear or regret because my ‘Why?’ – my purpose – warmed the embers of drive.”  That same sentiment often resonates among the donors and grant recipients involved with the Portage Foundation. They found purpose in their philanthropy and the work they are doing in our community.

“It is important that our community understands why our fund holders support us and why grant recipients continue to do the valuable work in our community,” said Debbie Smeiles, president, Portage Foundation. “Those ‘whys’ tell the whole story of the Foundation.” It is time to share those “whys” with our community. The testimonials will be shared beginning now and running through race day – July 24. They will be shared via the Foundations’ Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube channels.

The Portage Foundation has 11 focus areas – animal welfare, arts and culture, children, economic development, education, elderly, environment, health, human services, scholarship, and veterans. In 2020, the Foundation made grants and scholarships in the community totaling more than $140,000. “But we can do better” said Smeiles. “The Foundation is a hidden gem in our community and not everyone knows about us. The Ultra ’21 Society is designed to create awareness about the Foundation, the work we do, and an incentive to get involved.”

Loftus started running in college as a way to stay in shape, but he smoked cigarettes. In 1992 Loftus quit smoking and set a goal to run a marathon. He would achieve that goal running the 1993 Cleveland Marathon in a little over 3 hours and 44 minutes. In 1999, Loftus ran the Pittsburgh Marathon with a personal best time of 3 hours and 6 minutes, a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Loftus competed in and finished the Boston Marathon in 2000. These races were 26.2 mile marathons and hard on his body.

After moving back to NE Ohio from Pittsburgh in 2000, Loftus discovered the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and its system of trails. Running took on a new and more interesting meaning. “I got caught up in the serenity and beauty of the trails” Loftus said. “I could run farther than I ever had and I started to wonder – how far could I run?” The trail running bug bit hard. Loftus began participating in 50k (31 miles), 50 mile and 100 mile races throughout the region. Never the fastest, but always a finisher.

Loftus will represent the Portage Foundation as he runs the Burning River 100-mile Ultramarathon in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on July 24 beginning at 4:00 a.m. He is asking the community join him virtually in the race by making a $100 donation. $100 for 100 miles. Funds raised through this unique event will help create awareness about the important work being done in our community by the Portage Foundation. “Joining the Ultra ’21 Society is a great way for current donors to reconnect and for new donors to get involved,” said Smeiles. Donations of this kind permit the Foundation to fulfill its mission of helping those in need in our community.

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About the Portage Foundation

The Portage Foundation was established in 1997 with assets from the sale of the Greater Portage Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice. The Foundation was created to provide a permanent source of income to assist in meeting the needs of the community and the philanthropic needs of its donors. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees who serve in a volunteer capacity providing oversight of the Foundation. The Portage Foundation is recognized as a 501 (c) 3 public charity. For more information, visit the website: https://portagefoundation.org.