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Hamilton man raises $34,000 for rehab centre after 100-mile run to Toronto and back

Ryan Polawski ran 100 miles to support Teen Challenge, an organization that changed his life

Photo by: Connie Taylor Photography

Hamilton’s Ryan Polawski set out on a 100-mile journey on April 30, running to Toronto and back home, where he crossed his finish line on May 1. Polawski organized this event, which he dubbed Ryan’s Run for Hope, to raise money for Teen Challenge, a rehabilitation organization that has helped him and countless other individuals overcome addiction. He completed the run, which ended up being about 168K, in 23 hours, and his fundraiser (which is still live now) currently sits at more than $34,000. 



The three biggest challenges on the run, Polawski says, were created by wind, pavement and nutrition concerns. “I had a tailwind of 70 or 80 clicks for about that first 50K,” he says. “It made that stretch feel super easy, but it was tough at the same time, because the wind pushed me to increase my cadence.” When he changed directions and hit the headwind, Polawski says it was “like running into a brick wall.” 

RELATED: Hamilton man prepares to tackle 100-mile ‘Run for Hope’

Next up was the pavement, which took its toll on Polawski’s body. The farthest he had run before this was 50K, so his legs were already due for a beating as he prepared to travel more than 100K farther. Running on hard pavement for 100 miles, though, made things even more difficult. “The pavement killed my IT bands,” he says. Fortunately, he had the support of a Dr. Anthony Lombardi, a chiropractor from the Hamilton Back Clinic who met up with Polawski along the route to and from Toronto to treat him and work out any kinks. 

Finally, there was the matter of nutrition. Polawski did really well with his nutrition plan for the run, and he says he felt great in terms of energy until about the 130K mark. “I ate food up until about two hours before the run,” he says. “I was so bloated when I started, but I knew I had to load up so I wouldn’t bonk.” While out on the run, he continued to fuel, even though eating was the last thing he wanted to do. 


“You’re not hungry, but you have to eat,” he says. “I had at least two gels an hour, some protein bars and bananas.” He also drank pickle juice to keep his sodium levels up, and there were a few pitstops where he forced down multiple doughnuts. Eating this much was extremely difficult, Polawski says, but it worked out well, and he didn’t feel low on energy until he was into the final quarter of the run. 

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Up until that point, he had made a point not to drink any coffee or Red Bull, noting that he “stayed away from caffeine until it was absolutely necessary.” After 130K, he knew it was time to add those drinks to his nutrition plan, and they gave him enough of a boost to carry him to the finish line at Hamilton City Hall. 

After 168K and 23 hours of running, Polawski made it to the finish, at which point he had raised more than $20,000 for the Teen Challenge. That number keeps climbing, and by Monday, just a couple of days after his run, his fundraiser had hit $30,000. It’s now well over $34,000 and still growing, which is why Polawski plans to keep the fundraiser open for donations through the entire month of May. To donate and learn more about Teen Challenge, click here

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