Shannon Spencer has been training since December. Every day she runs 8-10 miles in the morning and then around 4 miles in the afternoon – sometimes after a crossfit workout.
She will put her training to the test from March 5-7, in an attempt to run 48 miles in 48 hours. Along with completing the marathon, which is split into 4-mile runs every four hours, she hopes to raise $10,000 for Ainsley’s Angels of America.
Spencer’s route takes him from FIT Kokomo, which will serve as his headquarters for the 48 hours, to the Handle Bar on North Street, and then back again.
Ainsley’s Angels is a non-profit organization that aims to make communities more inclusive, including helping people with disabilities participate in sporting events. The money Spencer raises will be used to buy two new Axiom conversion chairs, which will allow “Running Angels” to push passengers – known as “Sport Riders” – in a running race or tow them with a bike.
Members of the organization receive lists of different marathons throughout the year and sign up to run or ride in an Axiom conversion chair. So far, the organization has 27 presidents. Families can also purchase chairs from the organization.
This will be Spencer’s second year attempting the 48-hour marathon. She ran the 48 miles last year, with her friend, Lynne Herr, who also plans to run the marathon this year.
“I’m excited,” Spencer said. “It’s really cool to see some of the other members of our community hanging out. And I can’t tell you the joy when you run with an athlete angel.
Before adopting the annual 4x4x48 marathon, Ainsley’s Angels typically held chili cooking contests and a basket auction in February. Spencer said one-day events sometimes bring between $5,000 and $10,000.
But, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to organize the crowd of chili chefs and tasters.
Then, on returning home one day, Spencer was struck by an overwhelming urge to help Ainsley’s Angels. She called Kristy High, the North Central Indiana embassy official, with her pitch for the 4x4x48 marathon.
David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal and promotional speaker, started the annual marathon in March 2020.
In his announcement for the initial marathon, Goggins said, “Life is about getting out of your comfort zone. Strengthen your spirit. Calm your mind. Arm your mind.
He encouraged everyone to join him in the marathon and raise money for non-profit organizations during the events. Spencer was inspired and decided to join Goggins in his second annual 4x4x48 marathon.
“I thought it was an amazing thing. I thought it was so wonderful that she chose us,” High said. “I thought it was a very rigorous thing to put her body through too. .”
Entering the event, High wasn’t sure how the other members of the organization would react. But, when the race started, members used to traditional marathons embraced the event. Several athlete runners ran with Spencer throughout the 48 hours.
“It was just a really good experience, a really great opportunity,” High said. “And when she said she was going to do it again this year, I was just ecstatic.”
After last year’s success, Spencer said she felt the pressure to be successful again. Later this year, she hopes to take the Angel athletes to the OneAmerica 500 festival mini-marathon in Indianapolis.
The athlete said she learned from her experience running the marathon last year. Going into the new endurance race, Spencer said she plans to rest more in between running time this year.
She explained that last year’s event was a bit like a party, with people to entertain and merchandise to sell. Although she appreciates the presence of community members who support her, she must set aside time to recover between races.
“I have to remember that I’m running these 48 miles, so I need to rest a bit,” Spencer said, adding that she wasn’t walking any part of the 48 miles.
When she’s not training for the 4x4x48 marathon, Spencer estimates she’s running 30-40 miles a week. Typically, she is able to run four miles in 32 minutes. But during the endurance marathon, she slows down to a 10-minute “laid back” mile to conserve her energy.
People have already started donating.
Moore’s Home Health & Medical Supply donated $500 for the race. The store also gave Spencer a 25% discount on her Brooks running sneakers.
When owner Sarah Cotner heard about the race, she said it sounded like something the store would gravitate toward. Moore’s Home Health doesn’t sell Axiom conversion chairs, but Cotner said there’s been a carryover between the communities she and Spencer help. Cotner’s father also ran with Ainsley’s Angels a few times.
“I think it’s really cool to see the faces of the people they’re pushing light up, where they feel like they’re running around and being part of an activity with everyone else,” Cotner said. “It’s really special.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Ainsley’s Angels is encouraged to send money via PayPal to paypal.me/AinsleysAngels, on Venmo to @Ainsleys-Angels or by sending a check to Kristy High at PO Box 265, Russiaville, IN 46979 In either case, the organization requests that the note line read NCI, which is short for North Central Indiana.
For more information, visit www.ainsleysangels.org/.