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Over the course of a day, the average person will walk three miles. Over the course of three days, Dearric Winchester will run more than 72 times that average during the 11th annual Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR) in beautiful Central Oregon. Armed with months of training and a support van full of family and friends, Winchester will battle dramatic temperature fluctuations, unforgiving hills, bloodthirsty mosquitoes, and exhaustion. Often faced with incredulous "why are you doing that?", Winchester admits he is completing the 216.6-mile course for more than just a finisher's shirt and a medal.
Self-identifying as "not a natural runner," Winchester first began jogging as a way to get in shape for climbing. Eventually challenging himself to a half marathon, he completed the 13.1 miles and then decided to train for a full marathon and then an ultramarathon as additional challenges.
Winchester soon realized that training for an ultra is time-consuming and requires communal sacrifices. Consequently, he began feeling selfish for running so long each day with no ultimate purpose. Furthermore, Winchester's wife, Kirsten, has debilitating migraines and would often be at home in extreme pain while he was gone running.
Fortunately, it was around that time that Winchester heard of Ted Jackson. Jackson, whose wife has Multiple Sclerosis, runs to raise awareness and funds for MS research. Inspired by this, Winchester realized he could do the same for his wife and her battle with migraines.
"I decided to run a 50k for my wife and after achieving this distance, suddenly it wasn't far enough," Winchester said.
In 2018, the Migraine Research Foundation conducted research which suggested that migraines are the sixth most disabling illness in the world and the third most common. As a result, a majority of those suffering a migraine are unable to work or function normally. Sadly, this means healthcare costs for those who experience migraines are 70% higher on average.
Nevertheless, migraine causations and solutions remain allusive. Migraines are not physically visible, so empathy is often lacking from spectators and those who have never experienced migraine pain before.
"I have the ability to stand up and do something," Winchester said, "I'm just trying to make a difference with the tools that I have."
Coincidentally, Winchester runs to support research and a more common understanding of migraines. With the goal of raising $10,000, Winchester partners with the Association of Migraine Disorders, 10 Barrel Brewing, and PROactive Physical Therapy Specialists.
"Cascade Lakes Relay has always been about the family atmosphere and creating positive change so having Winchester participate is both exciting and inspirational," said Cascade Relays CEO, Scott Douglass, in regards to Winchester running the entire 216.6 mile CLR course.
Starting on August 1st, Winchester will run from Diamond Lake and into the Oregon Outback before running through the Cascades Lakes region to finish in Bend at Riverbend Park on August 4th. Although he admits that unexpected challenges are a question of when not if, Winchester runs for a greater good and faces his future with a calm resilience.
"My pain stops when I do," he says with conviction, "People with migraines do not have that certainty."
Cascade Relays Migraine Awareness & Support Advocate
Public Relations Associate 541.410.1625