I’ll admit, every so often I get caught up in the deep, dark rabbit hole of YouTube. The majority of my glazed over viewing sessions are wildly unproductive but occasionally, a video strikes a chord. Beau Mile’s film entitled “A Mile An Hour” strummed that productive chord beautifully and I instantly set a goal to replicate the experience myself. What an amazing experience it turned out to be.
Beau’s concept was to run one mile, per hour, on the hour, for 24 hours (technically, he ran 26.2miles … a marathon) and be as productive as possible between each run by completing odds and ends jobs around his homestead. A great way to spend a day if you ask me.
When launching Human Powered Movement, #AMileAnHour was on the short list of challenges I knew I'd put out there for many to enjoy. It would encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zones and test their physical and mental selves which dovetails perfectly with our mission. We just concluded the challenge, and it was an immediate fan favorite.
The free registration offered 6 Pack, 12 Pack or 24 Pack options (1 mile every 6, 12 or 24 hours respectively) Roughly half chose the 24 Pack with the other half splitting the 6 Pack and 12 Pack options.
It was amazing and humbling to see people throughout the country participating and stepping up to the challenge in their own way. We collectively ran over 1100+ miles (that I know of) and impacted countless others throughout our various journeys.
I can only speak for myself, but I am still flying high from my own shared experience over the 24-hour span.
A group of five (Eric Smallwood, Will Rust, Josh Byrum, Frank Turner, and myself) committed to running together for the duration of the challenge. What was surprising and pretty dang cool, was that this group of five was only the tip of the iceberg of the community** that rallied throughout our 24 hours at various stages.
We started at 4pm on June 11 in Cramerton, NC. Eric, and more accurately his amazingly patient wife, Olivia and 4-year-old son, Lincoln were overly hospitable to allow us to set up a makeshift hobo village in their backyard. As mentioned before, it was a physical and mental challenge. From what I can remember, this is how it went down.
As expected, the first mile was ripe with fresh legs, bounding strides, and naïve anticipation. Great work, one mile down, time for a beer.
Conversation quickly turned to proverbial elephant in the room … 90+ degree temps and 95% humidity. This was going to be a long “day”. Lincoln’s splash pad and slide looked like an oasis in the middle of the desert already.
Travis Burch (back row - left), Shannon Burch (front row - right) joined us for their 12th hour. This was Shannon’s final mile (awesome!!!) and Travis’ midway point. Olivia Smallwood (front row – left) was running on the half hours and joined us for the picture action. So started the revolving door of runners.
Much of this group was also part of the Carolina Thread Trail Summer challenge in 2020. We pulled this submerged canoe from the South Fork River on the final day of that challenge last July. It barely floats. We lovingly named it “Pizza Ships”. Wesley Bishop (far left) also joined the rolling party/circus for a few hours.
The only hour spent away from “basecamp”. We ran one mile to Doffer’s Canteen to re-hydrate with a beer and change of scenery and then ran our next mile back. Little to our surprise, we got a few inquisitive looks.
The “night shift” begins. Travis’ kids (Bailey & Afton) would begrudgingly head home but not before a 1-mile bike ride with dad. Many of Eric’s neighbors were in and out of our hobo village throughout the evening and night. Some were participating in the challenge; others had a severe case of FOMO or conversely, shook their heads in bewilderment.
Slowing filling up with liquid courage, we set up our Sierra Nevada “campsite” for the full night’s rest that lay ahead. Rest that would evade us for a long list of reasons … heat, humidity, sustained levels of stoke, too much pizza, random blabberings about who knows what, but mainly because one mile is just long enough to get your heartrate up and break a sweat, but just short enough to leave you with little time for anything substantive between runs. Again, this is the challenge of the challenge.
Precisely what one of my buddies asked on Strava after the challenge. Great question Donnie. We weren’t really sure what was going on at that point either, but we watched the kids playing in the tree for hours earlier in the day and as adults, we thought it would be fun to transport ourselves into a childlike mindset for a bit. Something that I personally think most adults need to do a bit more often.
Olivia was gracious enough to stir from her hammock slumber to snag another picture on the night runners. Reminder that she and Eric were alternating every half hour to keep an eye on Lincoln who had woken up three times already since going to bed at 9:00pm. Another story that I will let them tell.
I’m 99% sure I was the genius that said “hey, let’s turn around and take the pic”. As you can tell, our creativity was diminishing as the hours stacked up. This was also the mile that both Will and Frank showed off their fast twitch muscles, athletic skills, and shrieking voices as they bounded over a snake who crossed within inches of the group as we shuffled through another mile.
I’m convinced that Eric intentionally lit up his backyard perfectly for these pics throughout the challenge. These lights provided just enough “party vibe” to keep us feeling alive and well as the hours and miles started to set in. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been up past 2:00am.
We were super fired up for Olivia as she had just finished her 12 Pack at 2:30am and rightfully went to bed. This was the first time we were on our own. Until this point, there had been a revolving door of neighbors, kids, dogs, etc. hanging out and provided some additional energy. This was a bit of a different phase that we were entering. We knew that sun wouldn’t rise for a few more hours and that it was time to get our mentals in order.
Mid-run discussions turned to planning sessions on how to snag a few minutes of sleep. We had a small window of late neighborly dwindlers and early risers showing back up. I personally got horizontal for the first time and nabbed about 20 glorious minutes of shut eye. That 20 mins was a massive help and barely carried me through the entire 24 hours.
The last of our “night” runs. As we turned the first corner off Eric’s Street, we could faintly see the sunlight start to show itself on the eastern horizon. It was a bittersweet feeling since we had “made it” through the night, but still had a long, long way to go until 3:00pm. Nevertheless, this ray of sunlight provided another a mental moment of energy as we had ticked off another benchmark throughout the challenge.
Another one of Eric’s Neighbors, Kelly Newman, had just completed his own 12 Pack during the 5:00am hour which we sluggishly celebrated in the middle of the street. This also meant it was time to knock out our 6:00am run and quickly pack up our hobo village. This circus was hitting the road to my place in Huntersville, NC for basecamp #2.
A proper send off for our final mile at Eric’s house. It was great to have Lincoln join us for the photo as he battled his own sleepless challenge throughout the night. If you look closely, I have a much-needed cup of Summit Coffee in my hand … for me personally, it turned out to be as much of a mental pick me up as it was a physical pick me up. On the drive to my place, my car smelled like morning coffee with a hint of 16 hours of sweat. Nevertheless, were excited to run a few new routes and have a change of scenery again.
After arriving with just under 10 minutes before our next run, the proverbial driveway gear dump ensued. We would set up our 2nd hobo village in and around the garage but that would have to wait, we needed to snag another front porch pic and another mile.
It took a bit longer for everyone to get settled into basecamp #2. Partly because of a new space, partly because packing at Eric’s place involved hastily throwing everything into random bags, and partly because we were on hour 18 of running with minimal sleep. But the good news was that the sun was shining, and the weather was cooperating with us. My lovely and outrageously patient wife also fired up some pizza for us for breakfast which always elevates the spirits.
I’d like to think that I’m setting a good example for my oldest, Miles (left), by staying active and challenging myself in these non-traditional ways. I guess time will tell. It’s good to see that Eric was able to snag a quick nap during this photo as well. Nicely played sir.
Similar to 12 hours earlier, we started running out of ideas for where to take our pre-run photos. Peas, peppers, and tomatoes from my “garden” provided the luscious backdrop. If I remember correctly, this is also the run where a truck pulled up to us mid-run and wondered what in the world we were doing shuffling in the middle of the road. It took some explaining (IE: incoherent mumbling) but I think we got the point across … I think.
I approached this challenge by playing the numbers game throughout. There are many benchmarks to accomplish … 6, 12, 18 and, 24 hours as well as specific times of the day. I had 12:00pm on my radar since we started. It felt great to finally get there. The finish line was within reach.
It was awesome to have my wife Kristi (left) join us for this next mile. It was even more amazing watching her finish her 12 Pack the weekend before (and complete her first “Half Marathon” in the process). Will’s daughter Madelyn also got in on the photo action. Everyone’s support system made this experience a bit more comfortable. At this stage, we wished that we could just knock out the final few miles and be done, but again, part of the challenge is staying mentally engaged for the duration.
A great friend, and passionate leader in the Charlotte Running Community, Brian Mister (left and his daughter Holland) as well as my neighbor Mark Jackson (who kept seeing us running around the neighborhood and was intrigued) joined us for the final two miles. Their presence and support re-energized us at the perfect time. This was Brian’s 528th straight day of running … dang. Maybe a new Human Powered Movement challenge in the making?
We finally made it. Hour number 24. Another bittersweet moment as we were all physically exhausted, but mentally in great spirits. A massive wave of accomplishment set in as everyone enjoyed sitting down a bit more. We now knew that the clock was no longer ticking until our next run.
There are many other perspectives of varying degrees that were shared throughout the country during this challenge. This journal entry is clearly and simply a recap of only one of those perspectives. It's difficult to explain the countless meaningful moments that occurred without being there in the first person.
It’s an impactful experience in it's own right. It's even more impactful to share that experience with so many families and friends. Each person listed below had a major part in getting me to the finish line. Thank you all. Maybe we’ll do it again soon.
Journal - 24 Hours of Running
Human Powered Journal
Writings and musings of an active lifestyle
Adam Bratton is the Founder and Head Enabler at Human Powered Movement.
Guest Contributors are more compelling in written word and life in general.