Rochester Hills man conquers 100 miles for hunger

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 8, 2020

 Distance runner Edgardo Perez thanks his neighbors for their support after running 100 miles for charity in under 24 hours.

Distance runner Edgardo Perez thanks his neighbors for their support after running 100 miles for charity in under 24 hours.

Photo provided by Edgardo Perez

 Neighbors of Edgardo Perez set out signs to encourage him to reach his goal of running 100 miles in under 24 hours.

Neighbors of Edgardo Perez set out signs to encourage him to reach his goal of running 100 miles in under 24 hours.

Photo provided by Edgardo Perez

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ROCHESTER HILLS — For most people, a marathon — 26.2 miles — is the ultimate test of endurance, but for Rochester Hills distance runner Edgardo Perez, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Perez recently decided to attempt the ultimate race — his first 100-mile ultramarathon.

“Because all my races this season were canceled, including some triathlons and trail runs, I decided to run 100 miles around my neighborhood,” Perez said. “It’s really practical to have my garage door open with a table and food and water, and just do a long-distance run without the need of supporters or a crew.”

Perez, who was born and raised in Mexico and relocated to Rochester Hills five years ago, caught the running bug around 20 years ago.

The sport is really simple, he said.

“You just put a pair of shoes on and you go out — and you can go as fast as you want or as far as you want,” he said.

Over the years, Perez has competed in over 20 marathons, and today he takes great pride in being dubbed an “ultra-runner,” now tackling anywhere from 35 to 75 miles personally per race.

“After finishing a few marathons — my first two or three — I was like, ‘I think I can go farther. I would love to keep going.’ So I heard about this ultramarathon distance — which was 30 miles and beyond — and I kind of liked that challenge. Then I jumped into the ultra-running community,” he said. “I have never gone beyond 75 miles.”

The 43-year-old recently attempted his longest race to date — with the goal of running 100 miles within 24 hours while raising $5,000 for the Rochester Area Neighborhood House.

“If you finish 100 miles in 30 hours, you’re considered a finisher; average runners do, like, 27 hours; and if you’re considered a good runner, you break the 24-hour barrier — so in my head, that was my goal,” he said.

Perez hit the ground running, in balmy 90-degree weather, at 5 p.m. Aug. 21 and continued straight through the night with a seasoned ultra-runner friend in toe to help him keep pace.

By 6:30 a.m. the next morning, Perez had already run 65 miles and was well on his way to his 24-hour goal.

“During the day on Saturday — which was when I asked some friends and neighbors to start supporting me, because I knew I would be tired — it was like 87 degrees. That’s when a lot of neighbors came out. Some came out as early as 6:30 a.m. and ran 2, 3, 4 miles with me. Some kids from the neighborhood started running around me, and at the end, it was really powerful to have all the support,” he said.

Even with all the encouragement, Perez said the afternoon wasn’t exactly easy.

“You go through different stages,” he explained. “Obviously, you start fully energized and then you get to a point where you start hating the run and ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ You also go through a lot of pain — your feet hurt, your knees, your shoulders, your back, your neck — but part of the training is mental toughness. You learn to override the body pain, and your mind drives you,” he said.

After hitting the pavement for 22 hours straight, Perez was laser focused on the clock.

“I said, ‘I’m getting closer to 24 hours. I’ll keep going.’ So I pushed myself harder at the end, and I was able to accomplish it,” he said. “Fortunately, I completed the race in 23 hours and 21 minutes — which is a pretty fast pace, considering it was my first 100-miler. That means that I had an average of 14-minute mile for a full day, nonstop.”

At the end of the race, Perez said, he felt “perfectly fine.”

“My body recovers very well. I was able to run 3-4 miles the very next day, just to relax my muscles,” he said. “The whole next day, I was filled with emotion, because I completed the goal. I was actually super energized. I was ready to go for another run.”

Although Perez succeeded in running 100 miles in less than 24 hours, he still needs help reaching his second goal — raising $5,000 for the Neighborhood House. Perez said his neighbor, Jim Blundo, connected him with the nonprofit.

At press time, he had helped raise over $4,300.

Nicole Feidner, the event and marketing coordinator for the Neighborhood House, said the nonprofit provides food assistance, clothing assistance and more to neighbors in need living in Rochester Hills, Rochester, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township and Addison Township.

“Since COVID hit, we’ve had a 70% increase in people visiting our food pantry, so there has definitely been a greater need. Approximately $200 will feed a family for a month,” she explained.

To donate to the Neighborhood House visit, https://secure.givelively.org/donate/rochester-area-neighborhood-house-inc/hundred-miles-4-hunger.

For more information about the Rochester Area Neighborhood House, call (248) 651-5836 or visit www.ranh.org.

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