A little something ultraWoodbury residents Scott Penticoff and Todd Firebaugh competed in the Black Hills Ultramarathon on June 25, helping raise over $93,000 for charity.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
Sometimes it takes a little something ultra.
Woodbury residents Scott Penticoff and Todd Firebaugh competed in the Black Hills Ultramarathon on June 25, helping raise over $93,000 for Admission Possible — a nonprofit organization striving to make college admission and success possible for low-income students.
The Woodbury men ran together step-for-step for 100 miles, crossing the finish line together in 26 hours 45 minutes, taking fifth place overall, and first place for their 40-49 age group.
“As soon as we crossed the line, I sat down and began to get cold,” Firebaugh said. “I laid down on the grass and immediately fell asleep. I vaguely remember ... This was a huge ‘get to do’ — to run a race for a great cause supported by friends and family in a way that means more to me than you can imagine.”
The Black Hills Ultramarathon followed the scenic Centennial Trail, a 111 mile trail spanning Custer State Park in the south to the summit of Bear Butte in the north.
The team of seven from Admission Possible raced on a narrow dirt trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota, crossing waist-high rivers and expanses of sharp rock, climbing and descending 16,000 feet. Over 90 runners began the race, but a storm blew through overnight bringing heavy fog and pelting the runners with hail. By Sunday morning, less than 30 runners were still competing.
The runners call themselves AD4AP, or All Day for Admission Possible, and include two Admission Possible board members and five other supporters of the organization. In recognition of the challenges low-income students in Admission Possible face in pursuing a college degree, Team AD4AP ran in the Black Hills Ultramarathon raising a total of over $64,000 for Admission Possible students. Including a matching grant from Otto Bremer Foundation for new donors, they raised more than $93,000, which will serve 60 students in the program.
Penticoff and Firebaugh trained more than nine months for the race.
“These runners took on a remarkable challenge,” said Sara Dziuk, Admission Possible Twin Cities Executive Director. “Their determination will inspire our students to see the power of hard work to achieve their goal of college success despite many obstacles. We are so grateful to AD4AP for their dedication to supporting our students and our mission.”
Firebaugh said the hardest legs of the race were the final four of the seven total.
“You basically focused on getting to the next aid station, not just because of the fatigue and pain, but due to the difficulty of the trail at night and the weather,” Firebaugh said. Erik (Gabrielson) and Bob (Olson) guided us through the last four to last leg — a 12 miler — which was largely on shale criss-crossed in sections by ATV trails. At this point of the race, a thunderstorm rolled through — common in the Black Hills as we’d had one the night before — and pelted us with hail. The trails were steep, slippery, muddy, rocky, and there were huge puddles, which, when I fell into one, went all the way up to my elbow.”
Team AD4AP came prepared with family and friends to support them with meals, dry clothing and foot massages ready at each aid station. Their support team didn’t catch a wink of sleep as they drove to each aid station, prepared food, and posted updates and photos on Facebook through the night. Starting at the 50-mile mark, they ran alongside to coach and guide the runners to the finish line.
“The energy from our families and friends at the aid stations was huge during the first 50,” Firebaugh said. “When I unexpectedly saw Daisy, Pierce and Jared at the mile 29 aid station, it was a huge lift. Jared was my go-to-guy for filling my hat with ice during the heat of the day.”
Admission Possible was founded in Minnesota in 2000. The program currently operates in two metro areas — the Twin Cities and Milwaukee, with the goal of working in as many as 10 cities by 2015. Currently, Admission Possible is serving more than 1,600 low-income high school students through its core program, supporting 2,750 former high school program participants as they pursue a college degree and providing 3,000 freshmen and sophomores with college planning workshops. Since 2000, 98 percent of Admission Possible students have earned admission to college.
“The race is sort of a metaphor for the hardships that Admission Possible students go through,” said Firebaugh. “We committed to this to prove to the kids that even if things are tough you can push through.”