Imagine a beautiful pristine beach with clear blue water, white sands and sun. Now imagine running along that beach for 50 miles.
One of my favorite ultra marathons is the Destin Ultra Race. Not only because of its beautiful venue - but because of its origin.
The Destin Ultra Races are the brain child of Zane Holscher. Zane is a pilot with the US Air force working with Special Forces. He found a way to combine raising money for a charity near and dear to his heart and his passion for the ultra running scene.
Zane did some running in high school on the track team, but it wasn’t until he was attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, that he really got involved with distance running. He then inspired many of his his family and friends into running marathons. In 2007 his cousin Jake asked him to pace him in the Leadville 100 . This race is a very challenging 100 miles set in the Colorado Rockies. He crewed for Jake and ran with him for the last 23 miles, and says right there he “fell in love with everything ultra running stood for."
I am very thankful that there are some people in this world who not only find a solution to their own needs, but make it an answer to others and provision along the way, Zane is one of those people. When he moved to Destin, Florida, he got involved with a charity called Special Operations Warrior Foundation( SOWF) and at the same time was trying to find an ultra race to run in the first part of the year. Consequently in February 2010 he started the Destin Ultras in Destin Florida with proceeds going to SOWF.
This nonprofit provides college funds for the children of special operations personnel killed in combat or training. It is a very personal cause for Zane, who has seen the direct results of this fund, when he got to meet with the family one of his classmates from the AF academy who was killed in Iraq.
In the first couple years he poured his money, as well as his heart into the Destin Ultras and now it is getting bigger and not only includes, a 50 K, 50 miles and 24 hour race. Over the past 3 years the race has brought in over $100,000 for the fund.
Zane ran in the Leadville 100 this year (2013) and collected pledges to the SOWF for every mile he completed. He says,“For me, I know, I can always draw strength recalling the friends and teammates, I have lost in the military”.
This spring Zane, was on the support crew for the US 24-Hour Team at the World Championships in the Netherlands. His future running goals include JFK 50, another 100 mile and then finishing a mountainous 100 miler.
Zane loves watching runners finish at Destin: “There is nothing I enjoy more than standing at the finish line and watching first time ultra runners finishing. There are so many great stories each year in, it makes all the time I spend all year on the race worth it.”