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Saving lives in the long run

It wasn’t enough that Roy Wiegand endured a climb in altitude of almost 12,000 feet on a grueling 100-mile road run from the San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura to Mt. Pinos in the Los Padres National Forest.

But he’s taking on a second tough challenge, embarking on a trek along the same rout, this time by way of bicycle.

Some might call the 47-year-old crazy. Some might say that he is a glutton for punishment. But the reason why Wiegand put his body through 200 miles of athletic torture is not for some personal glory or ultimate fitness challenge. Instead, he did it all in the name of charity.

Wiegand, who accomplished the 100-mile run May 18-19 and took off on the 100-mile bicycle leg today, is raising funds for a cause that he holds dear: bringing safe drinking water to people in underdeveloped countries.

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“What really kept me going on the run was … it’s kind of a long day, yes, but at least I don’t have to walk 10 miles a day every morning to fill up some jugs for drinking water,” Wiegand said. “That kind of put things in perspective for me.”

Wiegand’s charity is Lifewater International, which has worked to bring clean water, health and wholeness to impoverished communities around the globe. It has provided sustainable sources of clean water to more than 2,000,000 people. Through its multiplication strategy, it has trained thousands of individuals in Africa, Asia and Latin America to improve the well being of their people through water development and its accompanying work in sanitation and hygiene education.

He said he first became involved in the charity through this church, Salem Lutheran in Glendale, under the direction of Pastor Kurt Christensen.

‘It is really a great charity,” Wiegand said. “And with clean water, it’s unbelievable how that completely changes some of these places and really cuts down on the diseases. To have clean water is a basic necessity that we absolutely take for granted here.”

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On the first day of the run, Wiegand began at 6:30 a.m. and ran almost nonstop until 11:13 p.m., covering 82 miles. Alongside him was a group of dedicated individuals, who not only to motivated him, but they also helped keep him nourished, ran with him and were there to administer any medical help.

“I stopped maybe once an hour for maybe a couple of minutes, but nothing more than that because I didn’t want to freeze up,” he said. “My team really kept me moving. I ate throughout the day, munching here and there. The biggest thing was battling dehydration. With that much running, it was just impossible to keep hydrated. But other than that, I didn’t have many problems at all.”

On the second day Wiegand woke up in the morning and completed the final 18 miles of the run. Even weeks after the run, Wiegand said he was still relishing in his accomplishment.

“People talk about runner’s high, and I’ve have done marathons and other races, but nothing compares to the way I felt after I finished the run,” said Wiegand, a cycling enthusiast who doesn’t do a great deal of running. “It was most just mental for me. I wasn’t racing, and I wasn’t out to set a land-speed record. So, I was just able to take an easy pace and think about the rout.

For the running portion of his effort, Wiegand was able to raise $2,100 for Lifewater International.

Christensen was among the group that accompanied Wiegand on the run. He said it was amazing to watch the runner’s determination and physical ability.

“It was very humbling,” Christensen said. “He just ran until he couldn’t run any more. It was just inspiring to see what he was able to accomplish.”

Wiegand stated out today’s bike portion of his trek accompanied by church members and athletes from the Burroughs mountain biking team. He is hoping to add to the donation amount he’s already collected.”

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