116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
After running Ironman races, ultramarathons and other endurance events, Mario Minnaert was looking for a new challenge.
He decided to run 48 miles in 48 hours to raise money for the Linn County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI).
“What I’ve realized from competing in big endurance events like this is the real benefit isn’t just the race,” Minnaert said last week. “It’s the person you become along the way and all the mental challenges you overcome in pursuing it.”
Minnaert, 31, of North Liberty, will run the 4x4x48 Goggins Challenge, in which the goal is to run 4 miles every four hours for 48 hours. Created by retired U.S. Navy seal, ultramarathoner, public speaker and author David Goggins, the challenge unites people around the world running the same distance, often at the exact same time.
Goggins suggests each runner raise money for a charity as part of the challenge. In 2021, 4x4x48 runners raised more than $3 million, Goggins says on his website.
Minnaert’s goal is to raise at least $4,000 for NAMI Linn County through a GoFundMe campaign. He was already more than halfway to his goal before the start of the race.
One in five adults experience mental illness, NAMI reports. That means friends, family, co-workers and classmates may be dealing with mental illness, but may not feel comfortable sharing the information because of pervasive negative stereotypes.
“That’s the why and the motivation behind this,” Minnaert said about the fundraising run. “It’s OK to not be OK. There are organizations like NAMI Linn County that are offering resources and support groups and programs to end the stigma around mental illness.”
As a husband, father and team leader at Higher Learning Technologies, an education startup company in Coralville, Minnaert values running for its physical and mental health benefits.
“For me, it really is about managing the day-to-day stress and helping me become my best in other areas of my life,” he said. “It helps you deal with the challenges you face.”
Running four miles every four hours isn’t hard for an experienced runner like Minnaert. But keeping it up for 48 hours, day and night, is the challenge.
For support, he called in friends, family and co-workers to help with different legs of the run. For his first stretch, Minnaert planned to run while Dr. Alan Whitters, a Cedar Rapids-based psychiatrist and his father-in-law, biked alongside.
Ron Meyer, Minnaert’s boss, planned to join Minnaert for a leg as well as take Minnaert out for breakfast. Higher Learning Technologies also will match up to $500 in donations.
One of Minnaert’s best friends planned to run with him virtually during an overnight shift and Minnaert’s brother was scheduled to join him for another night run. Family from Madison planned to drive down to celebrate at the end of the run Sunday.
Minnaert was planning to get most of his miles in North Liberty.
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