Ultramarathoners for Charity—Less Crazy?

In our May 2015 issue, we profiled six Orange County ultarunners in a story called “Not Quite Crazy” (click here to read). Turns out, some people do this in the name of charity, too. Does that make them less crazy?

Sonny Hong, of Orange, ran more than 49 miles in nine hours last year to raise $49,000 for a local nonprofit called HearAid Foundation—an organization that provides hearing aids and other assistance devices to those who can’t afford them. This year, the foundation board member will run in the Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Run, where during about 36 hours he’s expected to climb more than 24,000 feet. He hopes to raise $100,000 for HearAid Foundation. His online fundraising campaign is off and running (pun intended). We caught up with him to ask the same question we asked all the ultrarunners: Why?

Hong It’s difficult to not sound spiritual when talking about running, but that’s exactly what it is for me. There’s a beautiful moment of clarity after you’ve run 30, 40, 50 miles or more. During my runs, I tune out of daily stress and worries to focus solely on the moment. Breathe, take a step, drink, repeat. After doing this countless times you enter a zone of clarity where for a brief moment you have a profound understanding of yourself and the universe. Call it runner’s high or whatever. I call it my zen moment.

Orange Coast Why run for the HearAid Foundation?

Hong Running gave me a deep gratitude for simple things in life, like a fully functioning body. I empathize with those who face any kind of debilitation. Hearing loss isn’t a visible disability, but without being able to hear, people miss out on emotional connection with loved ones and their community; in the case of babies and kids, they miss out on learning, too. If I’m going to dedicate so much personal time to running, some good should come of it. HearAid Foundation is my “good” of choice. When I’m running, I’m helping people hear.

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