Why Train for Charity?

Why train for charity

When I asked my tight knit group of Team Challenge triathletes this, most of them said…..

  • Why not?
  • Why not try something that scares you?
  • Why not run for something that can help hundreds or thousands of other people?

My why started as a “quarter life crisis” that has evolved over my past six years as a Team Challenge participant, captain, coach and for the past three years, manager.

Train charity


At 25 years old, I was in the midst of losing control of my life to a variety of personal issues. I found that in order to help myself beat this I had a choice. I wanted to do something that could have an impact on others (1.6 Million Americans are living with IBD).

The thing that seemed most reasonable at the time was:

  • Go online.
  • Sign up for a triathlon in Hawaii.
  • Raise $5000 for Crohn’s and Colitis.
  • Tell all my friends on Myspace to donate and support me in this newfound fundraising, athletic journey….because that was a thing.

Mind you, I didn’t even know what a triathlon was! Completely reasonable thing to do right? But for some reason I was compelled to do one. In the midst of helping others by raising critical funds and honoring them in this race, I was able to heal and give myself a more fulfilling life. To this day, I’m proud to say it was the best decision I’ve ever made towards my recovery.

Bev Hess who is training for TriRock San Diego and IRONMAN 70.3 Silverman with Team Challenge can relate. She says, “My why is the thought of the legacy I want to leave behind….giving back is a way to do that while pushing my own boundaries of what I think is possible.”

I can tell you all about what we do at Team Challenge, how you sign up, who trains you for the race, where are the practice locations, what benefits you receive etc.

However, this article is written to tell you WHY we do it.

Everyone has a different reason, and everyone’s story is always a heart-warming, motivational, life changing story to hear!

Woody Freese is training for IRONMAN Chattanooga with Team Challenge as a tribute to his Dad who lost his 30+ year battle with Crohn’s a few year ago. “I can’t change his outcome – but I hope to make a difference in supporting others as they struggle.”

Training for chatiry

We all know that early planned runs and long rides on Saturdays can be tough, but Denise Smolenski says, “Sometimes training can get so grueling but when I think I’m ready to give in and give up I realize that my
son doesn’t have that choice.” We’ve all had this thought after a long day at the office or less than ideal temperatures. When you train to honor others, it helps put things in perspective; expensive medical bills (upwards $100,000/month for some patients), missed social events from chronic pain and lengthy hospital stays are just a part of it. They didn’t have a choice….but I do.”


“My why is to do it for those that can’t. For those that want to but are unable to. For those that suffer and want a cure. I’ve always wanted to do an IRONMAN but I don’t think I ever would’ve had the courage to sign up for one without the strength of thousands of those that suffer from Crohn’s and Colitis.” – Brian Bussey


Yes….you are going to get those people who say that “I’ll never run for charity again….it just isn’t worth it.” Or another teammate who, even while we were all sitting with our toes in the sand, literally beams of pride shining off of our bodies at the end of our first triathlon in Hawaii, said, “I don’t know, I guess I just thought it would be much more fun than this.”


I stood up immediately without thinking and walked to cheer for the rest of my friends finishing, because my why is to run (and swim and bike) away from the negative things weighing me down and sprint towards the positive. I do it season after season to connect with other like-minded people and to humble myself.

It’s almost as if my worries become less important and my teammates struggles with this disease become my own. Together we celebrate each hard hill climb, each hospital visit, every cold open water swim, our triathlon breakthroughs, stories of remission, reaching our personal fundraising goals, race finishes and accomplishments as a family.

“My why is to give hope. Hope for a cure, hope that happier times are ahead, hope because those suffering from these f@#%! terrible diseases realize they are not alone, their story matters.” – Chris Holcroft, training for Bass Lake Classic at Yosemite

If I could encourage you to focus on one thing this year in your training plan and race schedule it would be this:

Find your WHY. And race for a purpose!

Charity training

Pick a cause that is important to you! There are so many great endurance training programs out there! Of course I am biased in mine and you can learn more about Team Challenge’s half marathon, triathlon and IRONMAN programs at ccteamchallenge.org or on Facebook here!

You can find more stories about our purpose at #WhyTeamChallenge and share your comments with me on Instagram and Twitter – @KatGunsur

Focus on your why and I’ll see you at the races!

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