Morning sun cut through a smoky haze Friday as Ryan Tellock jogged into the aid station at Claudia Driscoll Park, finishing mile 16 of 100.
He was accompanied by Lyric Johnson, who planned to join him for 50 of those miles.
The two were in good spirits, enjoying the cool of the muggy morning before July’s heat truly arrived. At the aid station, Tellock ate a tortilla with banana and honey. Johnson snacked on a potato.
“We’re definitely feeling the gratitude — feeling the love, which is good right now,” Tellock said. “Because it’s going to be getting really hard in a hurry.”
“I think we’re both feeling pretty good,” Johnson added. “I mean, there’s obviously a lot of miles to go, so we’ll see. These next laps are going to be good, to hopefully solidify that we’ll be feeling good the rest of the way.”
The pair were running as part of a charity event Tellock dreamed up in September 2020. He wanted to run 100 miles for Emma’s House, a children’s advocacy center in Hamilton. Supporters could sponsor one of his miles, donate to the children’s center or join him on one of his loops.
Tellock was not new to ultra-running for a cause. In 2019, he ran 50 miles to raise money for Emma’s House. After the success of that event, he felt like he could do more.
“I’ve always enjoyed really difficult physical tasks,” Tellock said. “I just got a wild idea in my head that I would do 100. I just thought a distance that long and that crazy would really help get people behind the cause.”
And rally people behind a cause he did. The 100-mile run generated over $20,000 for the nonprofit. Donors could choose to sponsor one of his hundred miles in a tier system, with the first miles starting at $50 and steadily increasing to the final $1,000 100th mile. That final mile was purchased by Tellock’s gym, Bitterroot Crossfit. Supporters could also give flat donations or join Tellock for one of his 25 four-mile loops.
All of the proceeds went directly to Emma’s House.
The fact that he had so much community support helped motivate him for run day, Tellock said.
“[The run] was definitely an overwhelming undertaking. But now that we have all of this money raised, that really helps,” he said. “If you have to do something difficult, if you're doing it for other people, it just makes it much easier.”
He and Johnson began running at 6 a.m. and planned to continue through the night and into the early hours of Saturday.
Lisa DeMoss, office manager at Emma’s House, was excited and encouraged by the community support. Ahead of race day, she expressed her gratitude for Tellock and the entire team’s work.
“We’re just so incredibly thrilled and touched that Ryan’s heart has such space for Emma’s House,” DeMoss said. “It's just completely mind boggling the amount of community support that Ryan’s been able to rally. It's super encouraging and moving.”
“It's a difficult world sometimes,” she continued. “When you see generosity and big heartedness like this, it's really encouraging.”
Race Director Sarah Savoie helped plan and organize the run with Tellock. She was in charge of marketing, and helped get word out to Hamilton. As the day approached, she was excited to see the group’s hard work come to fruition.
“It's really been a huge team effort to get this to all come together,” Savoie said. “It's been several months in the making. For us to finally be here and to be at go time, it's unreal.”
Both Savoie and Tellock emphasized the teamwork that went into the run, from trainers and volunteers to supportive family members and running buddies.
Tellock’s wife Heather was at the aid station Friday morning. After months of training and preparation, she was ready for race day.
“It's been a long time coming. It feels exciting and kind of nerve-wracking — even though I’m not the one running it — but to have to watch and hope that all goes well,” she said. “The least I can do is be here for support. I mean these guys are putting in the work. It’s great. It’s really great.”
Neither Tellock nor Johnson seemed to be feeling any nerves at the end of their fourth lap, however. After finishing fueling up, the two were ready for the next four miles.
Standing up and shaking out, the pair flashed smiles to the group at the aid station. They faced the mountains to the west and began running.
“The hay is in the barn,” Tellock said. “Now you just have to relax and go. With this sort of thing, you just have to get out there and grind.”