Motivation. Perspiration. Inspiration. Under Armour’s You VS. the Year challenge has defined 2016 as the year of the runner and made history, uniting more than 1 million dedicated Connected Fitness members from MapMyRun and Endomondo in a common goal. Beyond running toward the 1,000-kilometer finish line, this year has been about journeys shared with other runners from around the world.
What started out as a bold digital running challenge has turned into a global crew that has discovered that, despite different motivations to take on this inspiring goal, they all share a love of running and the desire to continue becoming better versions of themselves with every run.
Theresa Winterhalter of Clearwater, Florida, sums it up perfectly: “The challenge was ‘you’ vs. the year, but what I’ve learned, and I would suspect many of us did is that, here, in this group, it is ‘23,169 vs. the Year.’”
Throughout 2016, the You VS. the Year Facebook community has experienced amazing transformations, incredible achievements and truly inspirational triumphs by beating the odds while pounding the pavement. They’ve bonded not only over this experience but over their struggles, running problems, personal battles and advice they shared to help each other run stronger every day.
Here are just a few of the many highlights from the thousands of posts shared this year.
A YEAR OF TRANSFORMATIONS
Dean Chambers of Salem, Oregon, (pictured below) went from being “about to fall off the diabetic couch-potato cliff of my own design” to turning into a resolute runner. When he started running in February, he was battling high cholesterol and was on the verge of becoming diabetic.
Today, he’s fitter than he was in high school, and he prides himself on his daily 5K runs. Thanks to this challenge, he’s ready to take on double the miles in 2017. “I’m proof that ANYONE can do this,” he writes. “Next year, 1,000 miles!”
Kristine Krengel of Minneapolis (pictured below) found setting a good example for her kids proved to be a perfect motivation to run. “I was 75 pounds overweight and knew I needed to be a better role model for my 9- and 10-year-old children,” she shares.
Since starting to run in mid-2015 and after setting her 1,000-mile goal for 2016, she’s certainly become an inspiration. Not only has she shed the extra pounds, she’s averaged more than 40 miles per week and completed two half-marathons this year. According to Kristine, this challenge has redefined her fitness: “It’s been a game-changer and truly formed how I Run with Fight.”
A YEAR OF RUNNING ACHIEVEMENTS
For Lindsay Shoemaker (pictured below) of Sacramento, California, this challenge was the year vs. her perceived limits. “When I started this journey in January, I looked at my monthly mileage and figured I’d get close to 700 kilometers, nowhere near the 1,000-kilometer mark,” she writes. Now, after entering multiple races and hitting her PR in June running a half-marathon, the self-proclaimed “I have no desire to run a full marathon” queen conquered the 26.2-mile monster on Dec. 4.
On that epic run, she nailed the challenge goal, finishing the year stronger than ever and putting any doubts about her ability to reach the goal to rest. “It was somewhat poetic I hit that 1,000-kilometer mark while out on that course,” she says.
Christopher Elston of Hampshire, England, had a very specific goal in mind: “Since I began running the Great South Run, I have always wanted to beat 1 hour, 30 minutes. This year, I did, thanks to this group.” Not only did he hit a new PR on his 10-mile run, but he kept going long after his race training was over. “I normally start running and stop two months later,” he says, “but here I am 12 months in and still running.”
His motivation to run the year was in part thanks to his local You VS. the Year running group, which raised almost £2,000 (around $2,500) for charity.
A YEAR OF INSPIRATION
Gale Ng of Singapore (pictured below) inspired those around her by fighting against cancer while recovering from her own battle with the disease. She and her husband ran their first half-marathon together while taking on the challenge and raising funds for cancer research: “Last week, we did our first half-marathon and I did manage to pull through in 2 hours and 27 minutes … yay!!”
Thanks to her will to pull through and beat her illness, she embodies strength and what it means to “Run with Fight.” She’s now ready to take on the next challenge that comes her way.
Aleisha Truscott of West Haven, Utah, discovered a passion for running that became her source of strength. After years of battling the devastating effects of addiction, she found refuge in running which became an escape from the stress of everyday life. “I started running at the beginning of this year as a way to manage stress more than anything,” she shares, “but I’ve come to realize as the year goes on, it has positively influenced every aspect of my life.”
She credits her newfound energy and drive to running in this challenge: “After only four years ago being an alcoholic at rock bottom and weighing literally half of what I did then, I am proud of who I am today (finally), and 2017 is definitely going to be my year! I have never had so many goals for myself, running 1,000 miles is one of them! Thank you for this challenge. It really has changed my life!”
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So, what’s next for all the committed You VS. the Year runners? Besides continuing to crush their goals, there’s more in store for the community in 2017 with a fresh new challenge starting in mid-January. One thing’s for sure: No matter how this crew takes on next year, they’ve proved they’ll most definitely bring their will.