Back to grid

David Kilgore on his 100-mile fundraiser for COVID-19 relief.

When his race schedule was shaken up, David Kilgore decided to adapt his plans, turning months of hard work and training into providing relief for those impacted by COVID-19. Kilgore set out on an incredible 100-mile ultramarathon, raising money for struggling sports retailers, and healthcare workers on the frontline.


As we adapt globally to an uncertain new reality, these challenging times have triggered an outpouring of community spirit, togetherness and support for those in need. David Kilgore, On athlete and Tech Rep, decided he wanted to make a contribution too. 


Like so many businesses, the sports specialist retailers Kilgore works with on a daily basis in New York have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and as one of the worst-hit states in the US, pressure has mounted on healthcare workers. On March 27, Kilgore set out to run a 100-mile (160 km) ultramarathon to raise money for those retailers, and in turn provide gift cards to healthcare workers, affording them comfortable shoes for relief on long shifts.


His $5,000 target was quickly surpassed through generous donations from supporters and increased to a new goal of $10,000. Now, well over $14,000 and counting, donations continue to pour in on his GoFundMe page, which is live until April 12.


Kilgore endured a 3:00 a.m. wake up, searing midday heat, and a close run-in with a police officer on his 17-hour adventure. It was nothing short of epic. We caught up with David to hear his story. 



First off, congratulations on your huge accomplishment. You must be feeling very proud.


Yeah, I'm super pumped about it! Everything turned out almost exactly how we envisioned and more. People were interacting, calling in on the Instagram live, and of course raising all that money. And I also checked off a big milestone for myself in the athletics field. 


New York is seeing a big impact from COVID-19. How are things going there? 


Yeah, it's pretty crazy. I think there’s over 60,000 known cases of the virus there now, so it's definitely the epicenter for the United States. A lot of my friends are sending me shots of completely barren streets. It doesn’t look real! It looks like everybody has left the city. I saw that thousands of medical workers from across the country are going up there to volunteer and help out with the situation which is amazing. 


What inspired you to take on the ultramarathon?


I really want to challenge myself during this time, even though all my races were canceled. I was talking with my friend Brenden – he’s a photographer and videographer – and he said, "I want to do some kind of project since we're both back in Florida.” I told him I was thinking about doing 100 miles and he was totally down to document it. And then we thought, if we're going to do this it would be really cool to help give back. It’s a difficult time and a lot of people are feeling down so we thought let’s do something to lift people’s spirits. I pitched the idea to some colleagues at On and we figured if we could raise money to purchase gift cards from sports retailers, we could then give them to medical workers in the city. So we’d be helping two struggling industries. It’s awesome.


You started racing at 4:00 a.m.! What time did you get up? Did you eat anything before?


I woke up at 3:00 a.m. but was super pumped even though I only slept for like four or five hours. I was really excited to do it so had a lot of energy and was ready to go. Everyone slept over, Brenden, my girlfriend Molly, and my mom. I had a Clif bar and some water and we just cruised on over to the start. We were all excited!



Your journey took you 17 hours along the Florida coastline. Can you talk us through your run?

It was incredible. The support throughout the whole thing. Most of it was virtually through the Instagram live and then I had a few buddies follow me in their cars to cheer me on and keep me stoked. The run itself was a nice mixture of single-track trail, old country roads, a few smaller highways and a few bridges, or “Florida mountains” as we call them, plus some cruising down the beach. It was a nice change-up of scenery, and definitely very Florida-esque. I mapped everything out, stitching together all the trails and paths that I used to run when I was growing up there. It was definitely a trip down memory lane since I knew pretty much every step of the way.


Was there any point when things started getting especially tough? What was going through your mind? How did you stay motivated?


It was so hot during the day with no shade at all. I went through so much water, just dumping it on myself and trying to stay as hydrated as I could. It got really tough from, I would say, between 60 and 80 miles. My legs were feeling pretty beaten up then and it was so hot. But I just focused on the goal in my mind and reminded myself that I was almost there.


I thought, no matter what, I'm going to do this. I set out to do this. Even if I have to walk the rest of the way, I'm going to do it.  


Knowing that people were donating and supporting me for a good cause kept me going. I think the last 12 miles or so it became a lot more doable. I knew I was approaching the finish line, and the sun had gone down by then. That was a huge factor, being able to cool off! 


You had an unexpected obstacle towards the finish line. What happened?


Yeh, so as I was approaching the finish line we got locked inside a ranch and the owner called the cops on us! I was kind of stressing out. I thought, if they arrest me right now it would be so sad because I only have a couple more miles to go. Brenden talked to the cop and the ranch owner, showing them what we were doing. We were lucky because the cop was super cool! He said, "I'm a marathon runner. What you’re doing is awesome.” So, I just filled out some paperwork and he cheered for us as we took off again. 



How did it feel to hit 100 miles?


It was definitely a surreal feeling. The support was amazing and finishing with the whole team together was awesome. Everyone had a great sense of accomplishment. Because of the ranch, we had to divert the route, and actually ended up finished right in front of the hospital here. And funny too, because we used toilet paper for the finish line ribbon!


What has been happening since completing the ultramarathon?


It's been pretty wild. A lot of news and media outlets have reached out. I can't believe it. CNN, Runner's World, ESPN, and some other sports channels. It’s been so cool hearing that other people have been inspired to raise money in their respective communities doing something similar. One guy ran 50 km, connecting all the breweries in Washington state to raise money for them. 


I spent Saturday recovering and trying to answer messages on social media. On Sunday I was back running, doing virtual races for different teams and have been back running ever since then too!



Before you took on the 100-mile fundraiser I’m sure, like many other athletes, you had to adjust to an impact on your race schedule. How did you adapt your training?


I was definitely bummed out. I had a lot of cool races and activities planned for April and May. At first, I thought "I don't even know what I'm going to do now," but then I guess it’s just about adapting. I still want to get out on some trails and push myself and challenge myself in new ways. As long as I’m allowed my daily exercise in an open space, I can continue running. I’ve already conquered new goals that I hadn't done before, like running 100 miles. The furthest I’d run before was about 70 miles, so this fundraiser was a step up! 


For now, you’re still able to get out for solo runs, but for some people that isn’t an option right now. Do you have any tips for staying fit at home?


It’s also good to have a little bit of downtime to rest up but I would probably do different indoor training classes, stuff like that. My girlfriend does fitness classes so I should probably jump in with her and try it out!



What was your gear of choice?


I wore the Cloudstratus, Performance-T, Lightweight Shorts, and On Performance Running Socks. I wore the Cloudstratus the entire time – it's probably my all-time favorite shoe. I run a lot of miles on the road, especially living in New York City, so I need the extra cushion and durability. I usually run at least 80 miles a week so it’s good to have an extra layer of support that can take a pounding from the street. I'll go for the Cloudflow for faster stuff, because it's a little lighter and bit more snappy. Sometimes in a real race, I like to switch my socks and shoes. I think it kind of tricks your mind a bit that you have a fresh start which can feel really good!


You can donate to David’s GoFundMe page until April 12.      


David’s gear: 

The Cloudstratus
The performance shoe for maximum cushioning.
See the shoe
The Performance-T
The ultralight, breathable T-shirt for racing.
See the tee
The Lightweight Shorts
Ultralight, versatile shorts with a perforated back.
See the shorts


Want to learn more about our in-house athlete? Check out David’s athlete page here.    

Be first to hear about our latest releases, special offers and training tips by signing up for the On Newsletter.