Robus: Wyoming student runs for charity, but also for larger purpose

2013-04-21T09:00:00Z Robus: Wyoming student runs for charity, but also for larger purposeBy CLINT ROBUS Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Dan Larson has heard the concerns.

You have to be crazy to try to run 100 miles in 24 hours, right?

"Everybody is on the 'Dan is crazy' bandwagon," Larson said on Friday, from the University of Wyoming Union.

Larson, 25, is an engineering student at Wyoming and also holds an economics degree from Northern Colorado. While at Northern Colorado, the Greeley, Colo., native ran track on scholarship for the Bears and comes from a running family. In 2008, Larson visited Kenya on a mission trip, and through his travels, realized how fortunate he is, especially when he learned some Kenyan children walk upward of 20 miles a day simply for clean water.

"It makes you appreciate what you have," Larson said.

He's also dreamed of joining the U.S. Navy SEALs. But he was faced with a choice: Enlist or pursue his petroleum engineering degree at UW. That's when Larson was introduced to Engineers Without Borders. He was searching for a way to become involved and help others and heard about EWB's "Run Josh Run" event, a running relay dedicated to raising money for orphans in Kenya.

The mission trip to Kenya. A way to help others, using his experience and love of running.

"Everything just kind of clicked," Larson said. "It was so perfect."

On Saturday morning at the Madrid Sports Complex track in Laramie, Larson began his attempt, which is supposed to carry through the night and into Sunday morning. With the help of sponsors, "Run Josh Run" raises money with each lap to help fund a charity trip to Kenya. When Larson first told his sister, who competes as a world championship caliber triathlete, about the idea to run 100 miles in 24 hours, she thought he was joking.

"It will be difficult," Larson said, "but I don't think I'm crazy."

I am not a runner. I have never run a marathon, nor do I believe I ever will. And I am careful not to compare Larson's and EWB's cause to the larger Boston Marathon bombings narrative (it was mere coincidence that the tragic events of this week preceded Saturday's efforts).

But runners, while they exist in that individual sphere during competition, belong to a much larger community. The positives to emerge from tragedy, the many heroes of this past week, are proof to that statement.

Becky Sondag, a teacher and cross country/track coach at Natrona County High School, submitted a letter to the editor this week, offering her perspective on the Boston tragedy. Sondag also happens to be a competitive distance runner and has run the Boston Marathon.

In the letter, Sondag wrote about her personal pain witnessing the Boston Marathon attacks. She shared two stories of friends that trained and labored to qualify for the marathon, one of whom she personally helped motivate. And much like President Barrack Obama's declaration on Thursday that Boston "will run again," Sondag, a few days earlier, undoubtedly echoed the thoughts of countless runners.

"We must approach this ugliness with the passion, tenacity and endurance of a Boston bound marathoner," Sondag wrote. "Our quest will be ripe with moments where we will want to give in to the pain and sorrow and quit, but we will continue to put one foot in front of the next and keep moving towards a blood-free finish line that would make the original patriots of America proud."

Depending on your Sunday morning schedule, Larson may have just finished his quest or is, hopefully, taking in an ice-bath after his insane and admirable attempt. Larson has trained for nine months and said he felt mentally prepared on the eve of the event.

The biggest challenge will come when it's dark and cold -- and the pain sets in. And that's when he must "suck it up, and go."

When Larson read the stories of every day people running into tragedy and the bravery of the first responders in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, he was further inspired and motivated. He hopes his attempt can inspire us all to live beyond ourselves.

"Even the small things can make such a huge different to other people," Larson said.

After this last week, maybe running 100 miles doesn't seem so crazy after all.

Contact sports reporter Clint Robus at or 307-266-0615. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRobus

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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