One of the many things one comes to grips with as one ages is the concept that 50 is very, very different than 22, and even 42. It’s generally agreed-upon that one’s physical capabilities are more limited in one’s 50s than they were in one’s 40s, and certainly more than in one’s 20s.
That is not, however, stopping Liberty Bell High School cross-country and track coach and art teacher Erik Brooks from attempting a repeat of an athletic feat that he accomplished once at age 22 and again at age 42.
On Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 27-28), Brooks will embark on the “24 Hours on the Track” fundraiser, the goal of which is to raise money to support the cross-country team and Liberty Bell Booster Club, for the benefit of all high school sports. Starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Brooks will run or walk on the track continuously until 7 a.m. on Sunday, if all goes according to plan.
The fact that Brooks turned 50 earlier this year may have something to do with this ambitious undertaking: man against track, triumph of the psyche, physical limitations transcended through sheer grit. But also, he’s the cross-country and track coach, and sports teams have expenses, and Brooks would rather figure out a way to cover them than to ask families to pay additional fees, even at the cost of his own pain and suffering.
Those interested in supporting cross-country and/or Booster Club can pledge flat or per-mile fees by stopping by Liberty Bell High School this week to pick up a pledge form in the office. Or — way more fun — drop by the track during the 24-hour run/walk period to submit your pledge and maybe even take a lap or two around the track with Brooks. Visitors between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. are particularly encouraged, as it may be the time when Brooks’ spirits are flagging.
At age 22 Brooks covered 61 miles and at age 42 he did 70.5 miles. He said “It’s been a good summer of running and hiking … but [I am] not 42 or 22.”
Still, he hopes to cover somewhere between 50 and 80 miles during this next attempt. His final distance will be shared on school social media and those with per-mile pledges can pay accordingly.
“We’ve had some pretty fun cross-country times on the track over the last two years, and this seemed like a unique way to start the season with a social running event and to have a unique fundraiser,” Brooks said. “Curious folks are more than welcome to stop by any time!”