Although Joe Stilin has lived in North Carolina for the past six years as a professional runner with Zap Endurance, he knew he wanted to support his home state with the One WI Running Challenge. The challenge, which runs now through Labor Day, invites participants to log as many miles as they can while raising funds for local running stores and Feeding Wisconsin food banks.
“I have a lot of pride in the Wisconsin community where I came from and wanted to shout out to that,” Stilin said. “With so many people furloughed or laid off, I’ve seen a lot more people get out on the streets and pick running back up. Everyone needs a good mental health outlet and running is a great one.”
Through the One WI Running Challenge, Stilin wants to the run the entire perimeter of Wisconsin, approximately 1,379 miles, and is about 15% of the way there. Participants in the challenge are invited to set their own personal goal to reach the 250K, 500K, 1,000K, or 1,500K distance milestone, and will receive an award commemorating the highest milestone they achieve by the end of the summer.
In addition to running around 90 miles a week, Stilin enjoys exploring North Carolina’s trails and waterfalls while hiking. Miles logged hiking, walking, moving on a treadmill at home, or on a wheelchair also count towards your mileage total through the One WI Running Challenge. As you log your miles, you will be able to see where you rank among your friends and other runners, walkers, and hikers, through the challenge’s custom leader board.
“As runners, we love to race, but none of that is happening right now,” Stilin shared. “We’re kind of forced to just run and train and sort of be ready for when the races come back. Us professional runners put a ton of pressure on ourselves all the time, so it has been interesting taking that pressure off without having an imminent race. I think it’s actually helped our training a bit not having the pressure.”
As a teenager, Stilin fell in love with running while on the cross-country team for Rufus King High School in Milwaukee. He then went on to run for Princeton University as an undergraduate and at the University of Texas while he pursued a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.
Once races return, Stilin’s next big event will be the rescheduled 2021 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, where he will likely compete in the 10,000 or 5,000 meters.
As communities are still heavily reeling from the coronavirus, Stilin believes it is important to take care of our neighbors who may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“Not being able to work or go to school can mean not having access to healthy food and other necessities,” Stilin said. “It’s up to us to take care of each other because we’ll all be better off overall. Think of yourself as a community, not as individuals.”
To join Stilin and register up for the One WI Running Challenge, click here.