Going to The Edge: 76 Miles | 18 Hours | $1000

Originally posted on the ‘Yes Theory USA Facebook Page’

Yes Theory is a Youtube channel who has promoted a social movement of “Seeking Discomfort” for the past 5 years. Three scrappy twenty-something year olds from around the world met, and bet everything they had in launching this movement. They love interacting with strangers and showing people how the best things in life are on the other side of discomfort. Ever since I discovered them in 2017, that’s a mantra I’ve taken deeply to heart.

This post is about a challenge I set for myself in May after I had finished my first 50 mile trail race. I’d supported fellow Ultra athlete Robbie Balenger in March when he had set the record for the most loops around Central Park at 16 or 100 miles. Feeling inspired, I decided to give this a try also, but I’d be doing it self-supported (carrying all food and water by myself, and receiving no external aid). Prior to May, I’d taken part in a couple community runs where a couple groups came together to protest recent police brutality and raise awareness about issues in the city.

One of these issues was the lack of plant-based options for people suffering from food insecurity. Overthrow, a boxing club in the city, had started NYC’s 100% plant-based fridge, and being a vegan athlete, I wanted to also do a fundraiser to help support these guys. Therefore the idea for the challenge came together: I’d try to raise $500, and run 12 loops around the park (73.2 miles). I chose $500 because I hadn’t really done any fundraisers in the past, and this felt doable, and 12 loops would be one more than the first record of 11 loops.

Five days ago, I set the most self-supported loops around Central Park and raised $1000 for NYC’s first plant-based community fridges.

It was discomfort on two fronts: 1. Having to run 18+ hours by myself with no aid, and 2. putting myself out there by trying to raise an amount that I didn’t think was possible.

Like with any difficult endeavor, a lot of lessons were gained. From a discomfort perspective, it’s easy to sometimes feel you’ve done enough recently and become complacent. But to continue reaping the same rewards, the bar has to be higher and higher each time.

I hit a low point during my run around 15 hours in, and was desperately trying to find the energy to keep going. My mind kept rationalizing that I’d already pushed my limits; I’d gone past my previous distance PR of 50 miles around 4 hours ago. Why was I still out here alone in the dark? The answer slowly came to me and it was a question I asked myself. “Would I genuinely be able to smile and feel proud of myself if I ended the effort now?” The answer was no. I came here to complete a goal, and to stop early would be to sell myself short. I was also worried about not hitting the fundraiser goal I was trying for, so it was even more reason to complete the task that I had control over.

The fundraising goal initially was $500. After the run I’d found out that from social media donations alone, we’d fallen way short of the goal. However, an anonymous donor incredibly decided to overmatch everyone and get us to $1000 after seeing how I’d put myself out there for the entire day. It was incredibly kind of her, and really showed that you never know what kind of ripples in the world your actions can make.

I didn’t honestly expect that anyone would care enough about the run to raise the full $500 amount. All I could do was try to finish the challenge and hope that that would be enough to inspire some people to help provide healthy food for those with food insecurities. That day was a beautiful reminder of how the world is so much bigger than our perceptions of it, and too often we allow this to limit what we think is doable. With this knowledge, I feel more confident now that if I just put my head down and move in the general direction of my goals, I’ll absolutely get to my desired destination and maybe even receive something far better.




A blog for documenting my thought processes over the course of a project and how I can improve upon them in the future. Writing challenges me to build a “tree trunk’s foundation” [Tim Urban] of knowledge as I tackle new challenges.

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Timmy Zhou

Timmy Zhou

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