Marathon challenge

Gage Lentz, Jake Marbach, Will Tork, Ian Rathsburg and Brody Richter raised over $5,000 for the Be Kind Project.

A group of Veritas Prep students took the mile run to new heights with the 4x4x48 challenge over a mid-February weekend.

Gage Lentz, Jake Marbach, Will Tork, Ian Rathsburg and Brody Richter ran four miles every four hours for 48 hours, covering 48 miles and raising over $5,500 for the Be Kind Project, a Chandler-based organization whose mission is “to focus on specific projects that have a direct impact on animals, children and those in need.”

The students were inspired by ultra-marathoner David Goggins, who created the challenge last year. They started a GoFundMe page and spread the word, blowing their fundraising goal of $1,000 out of the water.

The boys weren’t alone in hitting the pavement, with guest runners joining them, including Veritas staff and students. The last lap had about 20 students running or biking alongside the group for a strong and supportive finish.

While all five of them are athletes, Ian is the only runner, while Jake swims, Brody plays soccer, Will plays football, and Gage plays football and baseball. The boys said the challenge pushed them physically, mentally and emotionally, but it was well worth it.

“The first 16 miles were easy, and then as the tightness set in, it became more difficult,” Gage said. “The challenge was largely mental. Waking up at 4 a.m. was difficult.”

Brody rode his bike and fought through the tiredness.

“The mental fatigue was the hardest, getting up every three-and-a-half hours to ride my bike in the dark. I rode with a speaker and music for the runners,” Brody said. “All I could hear was ‘turn up the music,’ but I didn’t want to wake up the neighbors.”

For Jake, pushing through the early wake-up calls and exhaustion was made easier knowing they were raising money for an important cause.

“I have a parent who has had cancer three different times, and I know the challenges that families face with not knowing what is going to happen,” Jake said. “When I found out that the Be Kind Project helps families pay for cancer treatments if they do not have insurance, I knew I had to do something for them.”

The others shared the sentiment, acknowledging how important it is to take time to help those going through hardships.

“We do a lot of things to benefit us, so to be able to do something for the benefit of the world around us, something bigger than us, was significant,” Ian said. “We also knew that once we started raising money for something, there would be no backing out. We could not quit, so it was motivating to finish.”

“The experience was unlike anything else we have ever done,” Will said.

The five boys learned valuable lessons throughout their fundraising challenge.

“There is something about suffering with others. It brought us closer. When doing something like this, you think of things differently. If I can do this, I can push myself to do other hard things,” Jake said. “At first, 48 seemed like a lot of miles, but at the end, we were sprinting. We had so much more left in the tank. I know we could do more.”