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DSM Local Runs Marathon at Home to Raise Money for Des Moines Disaster Recovery Fund

COVID-19 Apartment Marathon

April 15, 2020

Sunday, April 19 was supposed to be an amazing part of my running journey. I was going to run the Drake Road Races Half Marathon. This feat would complete the “trifecta” of the events offered during the Drake Road Races. In 2018, I ran the 5k. Last year, I tackled the 10K. I wanted that half marathon so bad. My workout plan was great, and I’ve been seeing improvements since the beginning of the year. A personal best was in my future for the half marathon!

 Running Race  Running with Sunglasses  Running with Medal

I was looking forward to posting a certain photo on social media. The one where it’s three different vertical images within the square photo, I’m sure you’ve seen them on Instagram. There was going to be an image from each year I completed a race during the Drake Road Races. It would allow me to visually see my progression, self-discipline and improvement, and I was hoping that posting that photo might help inspire others to tackle goals of their own or motivate others to keep working hard.

I was looking forward to taking an Uber to the Drake neighborhood on the morning of the race and crossing the finish line at the famous blue oval where world-class athletes and Olympic medalists have also competed. Lolo Jones, Michael Johnson and even Jesse Owens previously attended Drake Relays events. During my own brief time on the blue surface, I would picture myself as one of those elite athletes. I would push myself to finish fast and strong. Sure, world records and stamps to get into the Olympics might have happened there, but let’s not forget about the equally important events. Those events where a racer crosses their first 5K after battling their weight for years, where a racer overcomes depression to get out of bed and train for a race that must be run in front of strangers. I was looking forward to standing with those fellow racers near the finish line. Seeing people complete a race and be able to celebrate with family and friends is inspiring. I love watching people cross the finish line hand in hand, employees rallying together and runners sprinting at the end to get a personal best.

After the race, I was looking forward to walking back to my Downtown Des Moines (DSM) apartment, proudly wearing my race medal around my neck with the race bib still attached to my shirt. Because of our current reality with COVID-19, I am not alone in my disappointment that this event will not take place this year. The key is to try and pivot to make the best in your current situation, have some fun and most importantly appreciate what you have in life.

Running for Disaster Relief

While the Half Marathon is no longer happening, that doesn’t mean I can’t run. Recently, I saw an article featuring a man in England who’d run a full marathon in his back garden. I was impressed with his self-discipline and motivation and shared the article with a couple of friends on a Zoom call the following day. Kenyon, one of my best friends, stated, “I’d pay to watch you do that, Mark!” At that moment, an idea was born.

DSM has been my home for the past 8 years and whenever I think of this region, I think of the amazing quality events — like the Downtown Farmers’ Market, Des Moines Arts Festival, I-Cubs games and 80-35 — and local breweries, parks and more. However, what truly makes DSM great is the people. As a community, we have been supporting our favorite local businesses in hopes they will be around once all this craziness passes. Keep it up DSM, I’m proud of you! Let’s continue to stay strong and help out our own during these tough times so we can all celebrate the good times together again. This is my personal attempt at trying to help my city and the great people who also call it home. On, Sunday, April 19, I will stream myself running 26.2 miles in quarantine to raise funds for the Des Moines Disaster Recovery Fund and those affected by the pandemic.

How is this possible? Well, I have a long hallway in my apartment and by my calculations, I’m going to have to run the length of the hallway over 1,800 times to reach 26.2 miles. Viewers on the YouTube Livestream can interact with each other and even ask me questions! One of my friends that will be present will relay any questions to me to answer. We have some fun things planned to keep things interesting during the live stream. The run will begin at 9:30 a.m. on the following social media channels:

Instead of feeling down about the postponement of the Drake Relays race, I’m now looking forward to posting that three-in-one selfie to social media, to setting up my live stream, to include friends and family in my virtual run. However, the thing I’m most looking forward to is being able to look back and say to myself, “I did that!” instead of, “I should’ve done that.”

All money raised will benefit the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines’ Disaster Recovery Fund. Donate here to help make a positive impact in DSM!

You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.

Mark Neyens

Mark Neyens is a creative-minded individual who will run a full marathon from his apartment. His goal is to raise funds for the Des Moines Disaster Recovery Fund, which helps the most vulnerable from the pandemic while trying to inspire others and have some fun.