He’s going the distance

Ultrarunner Bomhoff will run for 24 consecutive hours to raise money for Franklin Elementary's P.E. programs
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
-A +A
Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on Greg Bomhoff's quest to run for 24 hours straight and raise money for Franklin Elementary School's physical education programs. For Part 2, see Wednesday's Journal. LOOMIS — The adage “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” doesn’t exist in Greg Bomhoff’s world. For the accomplished ultrarunner, a marathon virtually is a sprint. Later this month, he’ll pace himself like never before when he runs laps around a track for 24 straight hours in a fundraising effort to save Franklin Elementary School’s health and fitness programs from possible reduction or elimination. When Bomhoff hits the dirt oval on the morning of April 22, he plans to cover more than 125 miles — at least 500 consecutive laps. “The mileage goal was something that I really didn’t want to put out there, just because so much can happen in training or in a race, but it needed to be there,” he said. “I put something out there that was big, but at the same time I felt like I could definitely get to.” The 41-year-old Granite Bay native pitched his idea to Franklin principal Shawn Shaw in late October, not knowing how quickly it would grow. “I threw it out simply as an idea to raise a little bit of money, before we even had the budget issues,” Bomhoff said. “In the last two months, that’s when school budget issues came up. That’s when everyone went into crisis mode and all the parents obviously started getting behind it a lot more. It started getting some attention from the school district.” Bomhoff’s idea for the unique jog-a-thon generated district-wide interest. Shaw connected Bomhoff with the Franklin Parent Teacher Club, which helped the endurance athlete broaden the scope of the fundraiser to include a dinner and 5-kilometer community fun run. “Go The Distance” was officially born. The evolution of a runner While Bomhoff was athletic during his youth, he never ran track or cross country and still doesn’t consider himself a runner. After graduating from Sacramento State in 1993, he made his living as a professional water skier for nearly a decade before finally getting a “real job” managing real estate investment property. He married Sheri, and the couple had two children. By the time 8-year-old son Gavin was born, a random marathon Bomhoff struggled to finish during his mid-20s was the extent of his running experience. That all changed three summers later when he witnessed the start of the Western States Endurance Run in Squaw Valley. “That just blew me away,” Bomhoff said. “I was so intrigued by it. Later that day I hiked up to the top of the mountain. I was standing there at 9,000 feet going, ‘Whoa, I can’t imagine what these guys are doing.’” He started training the following weekend and raced his qualifier a few days before the deadline to apply for the next Western States lottery. He survived the one-in-three odds and was selected for the 2006 race, which he finished. “After I ran Western States I was burned out on running, so I checked that off my list of things to do in my life and I didn’t race again for the rest of ‘06 and all of ‘07,” Bomhoff said. “Near the end of ‘07, I realized I was wasting away that fitness that I worked so hard to get and I also started to kind of miss that feeling of being at the starting line in Squaw Valley and the feeling of crossing the finish line.” Bomhoff got back into running in 2008, when he ran his second 100-miler as part of the four-race Series. He won the Rio Del Lago race, his “claim to fame so far as a runner” and a title he intends to defend this September. Bomhoff, whose 5-foot-9, 155-pound frame is packed with slow twitch muscles, has also run two 12-hour races and multiple 50-milers. His four wins in 13 ultramarathons have all been longer than 60 miles. “The longer the race goes, the better I get, so I figure this 24-hour is going to be right up my alley,” he said. “I’m not a real fast runner. I’m not going to go out and win a marathon.”