Do you have what it takes to run, or walk, one mile per hour?
That’s the challenge being posed by Appoquinimink High School’s Aubrey Shearer as the rising senior has organized the second-annual "One Mile Per Hour" event at the Jaguars' home track starting Friday night.
(VIDEO | Highlights from the 2018 event)
The concept seems simple, complete 1 mile, either running or walking, each hour for 24 straight hours. Shearer said a conversation with her family, full of marathon runners, led to concept being hatched.
“At the beginning of January last year, my dad said he wanted to do an event to benefit the community. I looked into other events like Ironmans, Relay for Lifes [sic], marathons, and I altered it so that a lot of people could be involved in. It’s easy enough to run or walk a mile, and if you want something harder, you can do the whole 24 hours, and mental health is something that is really important to me.”
The mental health connection, and one of Aubrey’s major inspirations, is the memory of one of her former classmates and friend, Steven Martineau.
"Last year, [Steven] committed suicide while in college. He was Drum Major for Appo, and it hit really hard for a lot of people. He was super-duper nice and friendly with everyone. He was extremely funny, he could turn everything into a joke, he included everybody, and he was super professional in everything he did while being a great leader.”
Aubrey said Steven’s death opened her eyes to mental health issues, and she said it’s why proceeds from the One Mile An Hour will go to the Mental Health Association, a local group working with teens and veterans dealing battling depression.
“Mental health is something that’s extremely serious. Many people don’t realize that it’s just as physical as it is mental. A lot of people once they start having mental issues, they have trouble with their physical issues like showering, sleeping, and eating properly.”
As for the actual One Mile An Hour Challenge, Aubrey said it’s a flexible distance for all types of athletes.
“One mile is one of my favorite events in track, and it’s a standard distance a lot of people know. It’s four laps, so it’s relatively easy to walk it in about 15 minutes or run it in about 9 minutes, so a lot of people can participate.”
So if it only takes about 15 minutes to do your mile each hour, what are you supposed to do to pass the time?
“We’ll have yard games here if you want to play, or if you have your kids who want to play. You can sit around, there’s the bleachers, I talk to my friends, some people take naps if they’re trying to do the full 24 hours.”
Even in the darkness of the 2-4 a.m. range there were still at least a dozen athletes putting in the required 4 laps of Appoquinimink track every 60 minutes. Others in the overnight hours were scurrying to stay warm in the rest rooms of the Jaguars' Stadium on a windy night.
Aubrey said she plans to lean on that experience learned in 2018 into this year's 24 miles in 24 hours.
“I learned a lot more about procrastinating in getting everything together and figuring out the overnight part of the run. You need to bring tents, blanks, pillows, changes of clothes, face-wash, toothbrushes, and other things like that.”
One other thing you might not think about, especially in the humid weather of late spring, is while it's warm and sticky during the day, at night often dew forms on the track, requiring extra concern to avoid blistering on your feet.
Last year. almost 200 people took part in some, or all, of the 24 hours, walking a combined 740 miles. She hopes that word of mouth will help build the event in year two.
“I thought it was extremely fun, and a lot of people were saying that didn’t hear as much information as they would have liked, wishing they could have come. Plus, this year I’m going to be an incoming senior, so this is my senior project to try to benefit even more people. I’m hoping to raise a lot more than the $7,000 for [the Mental Health Association of Delaware].”
Funds for the Mental Health Association are important, but Aubrey Shearer said she’s also helping to edge her way towards a career path by orchestrating the event.
“I like learning about mental health, but I’m more interested in how it effects art as opposed to helping someone in the field. I designed the T-shirts, encoded the website, and designed business cards and the logo for the event. I want to get into graphic design and photography, and I like how psychology plays a role in that, and how it effects how people see your art in a different way.”
They’ll get to see her art in a very unique way, at the rate of One Mile An Hour, but she warns you, that pace might be easy, but it’s still tiring.
“You try to stay up off of adrenaline as long as possible, and they try to take 20-30 minute naps between each mile as much as you can.”
If you’re interested in signing up for the free event, you can find our more at their website. It all gets underway tonight at 6 p.m., and continues until 6 p.m. Saturday, with runners from Appoquinimink, Middletown, Goldey Beacon, and the Middletown Athletic Club all expected to take part.
It's free to take part, but they are collecting donations to support the Mental Health Association of Delaware.