CALEDONIA, MICH. “Three hundred and thirty-five miles.” That’s how far three Caledonia women walked in June.
They will start in Sturgis and will only use their feet to get to the Mackinac Bridge. Call the trek crazy or ambitious, women call it a cause.
On a freezing March morning, Fox 17 caught up with “Run Caledonia Run” preparing to hit the trail just outside the public library. The group will log 5 or 6 miles, their training, just another Saturday.
“You can do something crazy and do something that really exists and if you put your mind to it, work hard, you can accomplish it,” said Becky Bravata of Caledonia.
Bravata joined by Liz Burnis and Lieschen Jacobs are three women who train with “Run Caledonia Run”. The camaraderie keeps the women going and motivated, but they also train a lot outside of this group.
Soon, the women plan to run 40 to 50 miles a day, for eight days straight, from Sturgis to the end of the mitt.
“We did 40 miles on Saturday and 40 miles on Sunday two days in a row just to see where our fitness was at at that time. And it really took a lot of mental toughness if you want to get us through that, but it was really good training in that regard,” said Liz Burnis of Caledonia.
During this 40-mile training run, there was nothing but farmland, sun and backpacks. The women chat, with a smile, liveliness at every step. What keeps them going for 40 miles? Running for a cause they care about, running for other women who can’t.
“My sister is a breast cancer survivor, my cousin is a breast cancer survivor and another cousin who sadly lost her battle. But when I look at the journeys these women have gone through, I think you know that I getting up early or using my lunch hour to go for a run doesn’t fit the trip they’ve been on,” Burnis said.
“I have a dear friend who passed away two years ago this spring during the time of Covid. She was a devout believer, she left behind 6 young children, and she was just someone who lived for life. adventure, so passionate,” said Lieschen Jacobs, Caledonia.
Logistics have been in the works for two years, route planning, nutrition, late night and early morning fundraising, wearing down the soles of countless running shoes.
“It’s really tiring. Like physically. Your legs get tired and you’re hungry all the time, you’re always hungry,” Burnis said.
“There’s a lot of foot care that goes into making sure our feet can handle 8 days of repetitive running and walking,” Jacobs said.
Jacob’s husband and sons will drive with water and food as they cross Caledonia on June 5and they would like your support along the way.
“We’re going through Caledonia, the Paul Henry trail, late Sunday afternoon and we’re hoping people will come meet us and join us running. We’ll pass right by Becky’s school in Kraft Meadows, and I teach at Dutton Christian, we’re also going to overtake Dutton Christian,” said
“Monday morning we start from the trailhead at Wayne Street and 60th in Kentwood, so we’ll go through Kentwood, then East Grand Rapids, then Grand Rapids, taking the White Pine Trail back to Riverside Park.”
The women made pit stops during practice to pose at each city limit crossed. In June, they won’t stop until they go from border to bridge.
“We’re running around and talking non-stop, and it’s been fun and I think we’ve become really, really good friends in the process as well,” Bravata said.
“Running across Michigan State is a big dream, it’s also an adventure, but it also gives us a reason to give our run a purpose,” Jacobs said.
The race begins in Sturgis on June 4. No matter where you are in Michigan, women would like people to join them for a mile or two. You can check the “Border to Bridge” Facebook page for daily departure times and locations.
Many New Caledonian companies supported the race, as well as the classrooms of Bravata and Jacobs.
All money raised will go directly to the Van Andel Institute for Breast Cancer Research. To donate, visit: https://purplecommunity.vai.org/event/border-to-bridge-run-2022-benefiting-breast-cancer-research/