UWF Coach Is Running Seven Marathons In Seven Days To Help Feed The Community

April 12, 2020

Inspired by an ultrarunner in Palm Bay, Florida, who ran 100 miles in one day to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts, University of West Florida cross country coach Caleb Carmichael laced up his Nike running shoes and left his home at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 6. He returned about 3½ hours and nearly 27 miles later, one step closer to his admittedly “crazy” goal.

The 35-year-old Carmichael is running seven marathons in seven days to raise money for Argo Pantry, which provides food to UWF students in need of assistance, and for Feeding the Gulf Coast, a food bank that serves 24 counties throughout the Florida panhandle, South Alabama and South Mississippi. He set up a crowdfunding page through Feeding the Gulf Coast. Argo Pantry asks that donations be made through its wish list on Amazon or by visiting the student support webpage and selecting Argo Pantry as the designation.

“As a community we’re going to have a lot of people lose jobs and not be able to feed their kids and we need to do something about it,” said Carmichael, who is in his seventh year as the UWF men’s and women’s cross country head coach and will complete his fundraiser on Sunday, April 12. “It needed to be something crazy enough for people to take notice. Doing seven in a row is a monumental task.”

Since the spread of COVID-19, Feeding the Gulf Coast reports over a 500% increase in people seeking food assistance. From April 1-7, the organization distributed over 100,000 pounds of food during its mobile panty distributions and distributed 4,000 meals and 4,000 snacks to children in the community. The demand put on food banks nationwide increases each day as the unemployment rate skyrockets from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding America, the largest network of food banks with over 200 affiliates, projects a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months.

Those grim projections motivate Carmichael each morning to lace the Nikes back up and hit the pavement. Last month, he ran 100 miles in a week, capped by a marathon, but seven marathons in seven days—a total of about 186.2 miles—marks a first for him.

“It’s been hard no doubt about it, but I’m just inspired to do something for somebody else,” said Carmichael, after completing his fourth consecutive marathon on Thursday, April 9. “Each day I start off very sore, very tired and kind of work through it. Halfway in I feel better and then toward the end I get tired and worn out. I spend most of the day then resting and eating and getting hydrated so that I’m ready for the next day.”

For more information about Argo Pantry, visit uwf.edu/argopantry.

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