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Gary Robbins runs 100 miles on treadmill in virtual race

The ultrarunner ran on his treadmill for 100 miles with 17,500 feet of climbing to raise money for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association

Gary Robbins

This past weekend, Gary Robbins went for a run on his treadmill, and he didn’t stop for almost 26 hours. He ran in the Aravaipa Strong virtual race, competing in the 100-mile event, and his run doubled as a fundraiser for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association. Running for 26 hours is hard enough, but Robbins made it even tougher on himself and climbed around 17,500 feet in addition to running 100 miles. His challenge has raised over $15,000 for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association, and donations can still be made to support the cause.

Search and rescue

The British Columbia Search and Rescue Association is a non-profit society that represents 79 search and rescue groups across B.C. Across the province, 2,500 volunteers are available in over 80 communities 24/7, collectively putting in 100,000 hours of work each year. These groups have an incredible rate of success, with 95 per cent of subjects found or rescued within the first 24 hours of a call. The Search and Rescue Association gets some support from the provincial government, but it relies on donations to stay active. Robbins hoped to raise $5,000 for the non-profit, but he has tripled that goal and the total now sits above $15,000.

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Robbins’ run

Robbins’ official time for the 100-mile run was 25:53:42. Although this is almost 10 hours slower than the winner of the 100-mile Aravaipa Strong event (American Sarah Emoto won the virtual race in 16:15:46), Robbins likely had a much harder run than any of the other competitors as it included 17,500 feet of elevation.

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Robbins is no stranger to ultramarathons, and before the coronavirus outbreak he was gearing up for another shot at the Barkley Marathons this year. Even with a history of ultrarunning, Robbins struggled with the treadmill run.

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“Happy to have gotten through this so that I never have to think about anything like this again,” he tweeted. “It was challenging in all the ways I thought it’d be and lots more ways I hadn’t envisioned. My body is completely wrecked.” His wife, Linda Barton-Robbins, also tweeted post-race, saying that her husband couldn’t even make it up their stairs at home.

Aravaipa Strong

The Aravaipa Strong virtual race took place from April 17 to 26, and runners could choose from seven distances, starting with 5K up to 100 miles. The races featured over 2,000 runners worldwide from 29 different countries. Ten per cent of the proceeds from the race were donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.