Updated: Sep 18
KENMORE, WA - Like every athlete in the state right now, Inglemoor sophomores Ava Jones and Julia Gonzalez are finding ways to stay active and motivated without any sports this fall.
Most recently, runners have been competing in virtual races, but Jones and Gonzalez wanted to test their limits and complete a task they have never thought of doing.
A Facebook friend of Gonzalez's mom had just completed the 24/24 Challenge, which is to run a total of 24 miles in a span of 24 hours.
This friend was able to get her kids to complete the task with her as well where they would run a mile on the hour for every 24 hours.
"My mom showed this to me and thought it was really cool, so she suggested I try something like this with my cross country friends, such as Ava." said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez began coordinating with Jones as to when and where they would complete the challenge and it was set to begin on August 8 in their local neighborhood.
To make this an even more unique and personal experience for themselves, the girls decided rather instead of running all 24 miles, they would incorporate walking and biking into the mix as well.
"The reason we did a combination of walking, running, and biking was because it's technically still early training season and we didn't want to injure ourselves," said Gonzalez, who last season suffered from a sprain ankle keeping her out of competition.
And it would be an all day affair so they had to properly prepare by scheduling out what time they would start, when they would take breaks, and when they would finish.
"We had started the day off at 10 a.m. because the morning hours between mid-night and five are often said to be the hardest hours for any running," said Gonzalez.
"I know people who have competed in Ragnar Races or those 100 mile races where you run straight through 24 hours, so we decided by the time the sun was between five and six, we would only have a few laps to be done and could motivate us saying were almost done."
Mentally, this isn't a easy task, so this was probably the hardest thing they have ever done in their lives, according to Jones.
"I personally learned how much I could push myself," said Jones. "Going over night was definitely difficult and was the hardest run I have ever done because we were up at three in the morning."
For Gonzalez, since she had suffered ankle injury last season keeping her out of competition, this was a big step for her as far as getting back to better health and being prepared for the upcoming season.
"One of my biggest fears was the concern about my ankle, and that I wouldn't be as strong as I was," said Gonzalez. "This was a way for me to see that I'm more capable than I could have imagined, and that I could push through hard things, especially in the early morning hours. I am definitely stronger than I give myself credit for."
But besides learning to overcome adversity and testing their physical limits, there was more to be accomplished; To raise funds to support racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Like many cities around the U.S., the people of Seattle have been participating in many protests regarding police brutality towards African-Americans becoming one of the biggest topics in recent history.
Rather than going to downtown Seattle to march, Jones thought this would be safer, and more fun, to help a cause like this one and make an impact for the entire world.
"We were able to support a cause in a way where we both could enjoy it," said Jones. "There are many different ways to support a cause that are unique, even if we are in a global pandemic. For me, I was very happy to finish, but also be able to give this much support to something I care about."
Aside from completing the walking, running, and biking, the biggest challenge for Jones and Gonzalez was to decide which organizations they were going to donate to because they felt all were important.
The first organization they had picked was one more well known around the U.S. and felt people would want to donate because they know of this organization; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is one of the longest running civil rights organization in the U.S. where they, "ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination."
The second organization was the Equal Justice Initiative, which was founded by the New York Times bestselling author who wrote Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, and is now a featured length film starring Michael B. Jordan.
So far, Jones and Gonzalez have raised over $4,000 and will split the funding's evenly for each organization to be donated to.
"People have been really enthusiastic about all this," said Gonzalez on the feedback they have been getting.
"Our own cross country coach and family members have been really supportive of us, so we have had a lot of positives with this."
Not only has this impacted the African-American community in a positive way, but it's also been important to Gonzalez's dad's side of the family, who are originally from Guatemala.
"All across the board, we have received great reception," said Jones. "Some of our friends who are minorities have been telling us we have done a great job."
Donations are still being excepted for another week or two and you can find the link to the website by clicking here.