In 2020, Victoria’s Yana Hempler ran 12 marathons in 12 days to raise money for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation (VHF). Her fundraiser was a huge success, and she smashed her fundraising goal of $10,000, ultimately hitting $36,000. This year, Hempler decided to run another challenge, although she raised the bar to 30 marathons in 30 days with a goal of raising $500,000 for the VHF. She has flown through the challenge so far, and total donations for the event currently sit at more than $43,000.
Last year, Hempler organized her marathon challenge to support the healthcare workers in Victoria who were working tirelessly throughout the pandemic. She says she didn’t expect the pandemic to still be raging on this far into 2021, but since that’s the case, she decided to plan another big fundraiser.
“I realized that I’m probably not going to travel anywhere this year for any in-person races,” Hempler says. “I’ve been running a fair bit of mileage, and I’ve continued to see how the healthcare heroes are dealing with surge in the pandemic, so I came up with this ‘Marathon May’ and thought I’d try to see if we can raise $500,000 this time.”
In 2020, Hempler originally planned to run 10 marathons in 10 days, but she told her followers that she would run an 11th day in a row if they helped her hit her $10,000 fundraising goal before her last marathon. She not only surpassed $10,000, but she raised well over $30,000, and so she decided that she should run a 12th marathon as well to show her appreciation for everyone who donated and supported her.
This year, Hempler has made a similar promise, and if the fundraising page hits $500,000 before the end of the 30 days, she’ll run another marathon on May 31. Hempler is pretty familiar with the marathon, and before last year’s challenge, she had run multiple races around the world, including the New York City, Boston and Berlin marathons. Despite having run many marathons, by the end of this challenge, she will have run more marathons this month than she did in her entire life before May began.
“So far it’s gone well,” Hempler says. “The first four days were the hardest. Day 2 I felt sick and exhausted. It got warm, too, and the heat really got to me.” Fortunately, she isn’t shooting to break any records with these runs, and she doesn’t care how long each one takes her. On average, she runs them between 4:45 and 5:15.
“The shuffle-run worked really well with those sore legs,” she says with a laugh. “If I’m feeling good in the last few days, I’ll kick it up a bit.” Although she may pick up the pace near the end of the month, she adds that she won’t be trying to run anywhere close to her official PB of 3:18.
As of Thursday, Hempler is approaching the halfway mark at 13 marathons into the challenge, and while she knows there will be some long days ahead of her, she’s looking forward to them, as each run not only helps her to raise money for the VHF, but may also inspire other people to get into the sport.
“When I was younger, I couldn’t even run a block,” she says. “I was one of those people who couldn’t run before and didn’t think I’d be able to run a 5K, let alone 30 marathons in 30 days. I want new runners to believe in themselves and give it a try.”