George Menyhert remembers the grandfather walking his roller-blading granddaughter. He even remembers what he can only describe as a herd of cocker spaniels, 15 to 20 of them, all sharing the Loveland Bike Trail with him one day last fall.
As he ran, his thoughts turned to Cincinnati Union Bethel—he sits on the non-profit’s board—and the ongoing legal wranglings between CUB’s Anna Louise Inn and Western & Southern Financial Group. He tried to clear his mind of all thoughts, to be open to new ideas and possibilities. And he kept running.
So, when the idea for completing an Ultra—defined as any race longer than a marathon—crept into his thoughts, the 43-year-old father of two and marathon veteran put the pieces together.
“Suddenly I thought that I could use the run as a way to raise awareness of and money for CUB,” says Menyhert, an innovation consultant at Spigit
. “I started thinking about how I might do that.”??He’d had just enough time away from marathon training, about three years, to forget what might be his biggest challenges. “I had time to forget about all of the pain, constant training, exhaustion and strain on family life,” he says. “The timing was perfect!”
Menyhert first heard of CUB through his connection with The Circuit’s CIO Circle
, a special interest group of like-minded professionals who meet regularly to talk about technologies and networks. “Several years back Matt Mountain, the group's founder, brought in a list of charities looking for some technical guidance. I picked a name from the list (CUB) and gave them a call,” Menyhert says. “Over the years I donated my time and money.”
The more he learned about CUB, the more he appreciated its mission and programs. “They focus on a segment of the population that can really use love and caring,” he says. “And they make a real and permanent difference. Kids graduating from the early childhood education program show high levels of preparedness for kindergarten; 96 percent of women in Off the Streets program permanently break the cycles they held them in prostitution. That's real change.”
He understands the appeal of supporting causes that are more distant and in some ways glamorous, but has seen impressive results close to home because of programs run by CUB. “Closer up, people are flawed and make mistakes, so it is easier to judge,” he says. “The key is to also see that they are also wonderful and spirited and loving and caring. CUB sees that and acts on it. If you ever find yourself doubting humanity, attend one of CUB's graduation ceremonies. Tip: bring tissues.”
So, to raise awareness, and funds, Menyhert has signed up for a 40-mile ultra, the Strolling Jim 40 in Wartrace, TN, on May 5. “It is close enough that I don’t need to make it a vacation but far enough to be interesting,” he says. “It is also a street race, the hills are minimal and my sister who lives near Memphis agreed to be my crew.”
Both the size of the race and the pace of training for ultras differentiate it from marathons. First of all, instead of thousands of runners, he expects to be running with about 100 competitors in Tennessee. Second, his training schedule includes several weekends with a full marathon one day and a 10-mile run the next. “Running a marathon distance will take it out of you, but that 10 miles the next day really leaves you winded,” he says. “There is something about the combination.”?
So each week he plots his courses, runs his miles and logs his hours online. “My primary goal is to get to race day without any significant training injuries,” he says. “My secondary goal is to finish. Tertiary is to finish under seven hours. If they first two happen, I think I can do the last.”
• Spread the word. “Like” and “Share” the Ultra for CUB page on Facebook.
• Sponsor Meynhert’s run
by donating to CUB.
• Learn about CUB
and how you can get involved.
??By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.