100 for 100

Runfundraiser, Running

I’m going 100 for 100 on March 8th 

Will you help me?

Eight years ago I started a birthday tradition of running one mile for each year that I’ve been lucky enough to walk along this planet.  This year is a big one for me—40!  And though I’d like to live to be 100 years old, I’m neither certain I’ll make it that far, nor will I be capable of running 100 miles on my birthday.  So in the words of an old actor friend, I’ve decided to “Go big or go home.”

For this milestone birthday, I’m going for 100. 

These birthday runs have been a great chance to reflect on the generosity and kindness of others who have inspired and helped me along the way.  So this year, for each mile, I’m asking for donations: $1.00 per mile from 100 people. 100 people giving a mere $100 each to a great non-profit. My goal is to raise $10,000 in just over a month to give back to the organizations that have profoundly shaped my life.  I don’t want a dime of this money, in fact, I’m going to ask you to donate directly to one of my favorite orgs.

Here they are:

Clowns Without Borders

Partners in Health


Snowdrop Foundation

And to donate, just click here:

Clowns Without Borders-Donate

Partners in Health-Donate


Snowdrop Foundation

On this blog I’ll be track the donation and pledge progress.  Even before sending this message out 10 people have already pledged to give $100; I’m one tenth of the way there.  Want to jump on board to push me further?

Now for the course: Well, it’s ever evolving.  My hope is not to have to pull this off on a treadmill like I did for my 38th birthday while I was stuck in Ebola quarantine.  That was quite boring, the run and the quarantine.  So if the weather holds, I’ll start my run at noon on March 7th with a finish time by noon on March 8th.  That will leave space on my actual birthday for a celebratory beer (or three) and a nice nap.


The course will likely be multiple 10 mile or 20 mile loops around my current hometown,  Charlottesville, VA.  I’m considering a cross-mountain run from where I grew up in Waynesboro to Charlottesville—a nice 30-mile jog over Afton Mountain—to kick things off.  There will be updates on social media and e-mail as the plans progress.

Thinking of Alan Sillitoe’s short story, “The Lonliness of the Long-Distance Runner,” I will gladly welcome runners to join me for a mile or two or ten or twenty.  Also, for friends in distant places for whom $100 might be a squeeze: Just go for a run on the 8th, let me know when and where and we’ll pound pavement together!  Want to get some other people to raise money with you?  GREAT!  Want to donate more than $100?  FABULOUS!

Bottom line is that I don’t know if I’ll even be able to pull this off, but I’m confident that the money you give to these life saving organizations will bring thousands of miles worth of health and smiles.  If you want to learn more about why these organizations are so great, send me an e-mail at myfirst100miles@gmail.com and I’ll fill you in.

Pledge or donate now and follow this blog for more details!


Thanks for helping me try to pull this off!




“You made it this far?”


I had just run past the homeless man who stood in the middle of the double tracked, smooth, white, concrete bike trail that we had been following for 20 miles. We were blasting through his space; no race officials had asked him if we could disturb his mid-morning slumber, all 1,500 of us running the marathon that day. He was tall and bearded, with liver-failure tan skin and he giggled defiantly as he stood in the middle of the course while we ran around him. He laughed at us in our funny runny clothes and chatted with the uninspired “official race photographer” sitting in a lawn chair under a yellow umbrella working for commission as he snapped shots of us, our faces and race numbers, meandering towards downtown Denver. The man turned as I ran by and took a few steps after me calling out to me like I was his friend. I kept going, we all kept going right by.

Less than half a mile later I ran by a person in the crowd who saw my bare feet and yelled, “you made it this far?” as he handed me a cup of water.

Reactions to running barefoot are as much fun as the race itself. Many people just stare for a beat or two and mumble, “wow.” Others cheer more robustly, small children often laugh and think its silly. One lady in Central Park a week before the race, when I was on a training run, yelled at me, scolding me that “that is NOT good for you.” This man, though seemed completely amazed.

I am amazed that on the same day that I ran 26.2 miles in Denver, 8,000 Syrians moved through Greece having escaped systematic slaughter in Syria to face abhorrent discrimination and xenophobia in Turkey so much that they fled through Greece to reach other member countries of the European Union—8,000 people in one day. Thousands of people daily have walked, run and swam to seek safety. Many left all their possessions, many left pets behind, and many lost their few remaining clothes in the ocean. Too many have lost their sons and daughters to the sea.

The rest of the race I thought about how far so many Syrians have made it, the half a million who have survived and escaped the senseless war in their country.

When people asked me about why I was not wearing shoes I told them about the work of Clowns Without Borders and how I was raising money to help provide psychosocial support to Syrian children and families at this time of crisis who had lost everything. Marathons are great places to meet people and chat, chatting while running at altitude for a person who lives at sea level is a bit more challenging, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought. What was most challenging, though, was the reaction I got from a nurse at the end of the race.

I finished the run in about 3 hours and 30 minutes and my feet ached. I limped to the medical tent and asked for some ice to place on the tops of my feet. The woman I met at the tent was a nurse who had flown from Boston to provide medical support for the runners. She asked about the barefoot thing and I told her the same elevator speech I had been telling people during the run, this time my voice quivered and failed. Emotions and hypoglycemia made me choke on my words and stir salty tears. She patiently allowed me to finish my thoughts and instead of the normal, “Good for you” that I got from most other people that I had told about this fund raising effort, she paused with moist eyes.

She said, “And you know, the world has already forgotten. The world has moved onto other things.”

She wrapped Saran Wrap around the ice bags on my feet and helped me to standing. She was right, in too many ways it seems that the world has forgotten. In the same way that we ran past the homeless man who awoke that morning to more than 1,000 runners stampeding through the place he called home—the world continues to run on.logousa09

The efforts of Clowns Without Borders in support of Syrian refugees are relatively small. It is overwhelming at times to fathom the suffering occurring in the Aegean Islands and surrounding countries; it is overwhelming to imagine how we can help. But there are ways to help and thousands of people are engaging in this movement to support refugees.

I ask that you not forget and keep running. Allow the 24-hour news cycle to run by, the avalanche of social media, and remember what is happening in Syria and the surrounding countries. Hang on to that. Seek ways to support, whether it is by donating to organizations helping or whether it is simply keeping the refugee crisis in your conversations with friends and families.

Post Denver marathon

Running Barefoot to support Syrian Refugees


Why I am running barefoot?

VA_beach_halfA few years ago I decided to start running barefoot.. It was trendy to run almost barefoot in expensive minimalist shoes. I couldn’t afford the shoes at the time and so figured that if I wanted to have the barefoot experience, I should just run without shoes. 11 marathons followed, which included one ultra marathon of 52 miles; they were mostly all on pavement save a particularly painful race in North Carolina that featured 20 miles of packed gravel.

When I run barefoot, people ask me why. It is a great way to meet new people and tell them a story. What’s more, there is a weird tradition with runners in that they like to raise funds for non-profit organizations while running mile after mile. During a two-year period I raised upwards of $10,000 for Clowns Without Borders USA by doing this.

image1I need your help to support the work of the CWB-USA ASAP. We are sending a team of professional artists to support Syrian refugees as they move through Greece seeking asylum and safety from the atrocities that continue to escalate in Syria right now. The influx of refugees is reaching record numbers of 4,000 people or more PER DAY. Many of these people fled their homes with nothing but what they could carry on their backs, thousands more, when the boats they took to leave countries like Turkey lost even those possessions when their overloaded vessels capsized or broke. So many people have arrived on the shores of Greece with just their clothes having lost everything, including their shoes.

On Sunday, October 18th I will run the Denver marathon barefoot in solidarity and support of our neighbors who have lost everything, victims to a senseless war in Syria. Your tax deductible donations will support a two-week intensive project in which a small group of our clowns headed by Molly Levine and Sabine Choucair will share laughter and smiles with families anxiously waiting for transportation to a safer life. The project will take place starting October 22.

Many of my friends and colleagues have talked about wanting to find ways to support those whose lives have been violently changed during this refugee crisis. Here is one simple and unique way to help—donate to support CWB-USA. We thrive off of individual donations; our artists volunteer their time and skills so that your donation can be most effective in maximizing laughter, joy and resiliency!

Click here to donate.logousa09

Or you can mail a check to:

Clowns Without Borders

705 Rockcreek Rd

Charlottesville, VA 22903


Please write in the memo line of the check: “Syrian Refugees”