NIWOT, Colo. -- Outlasting coronavirus has been compared to running a marathon. Or four of them, like Kalyca Zarich plans to do this Friday.
"It's one foot in front of the other,” Zarich said. “You tell yourself to keep going.”
It’s not necessarily the distance that motivates Zarich, but rather, the mental fortitude and courage it takes to keep pushing.
"Running has kind of been a lifesaver for me, I feel like," Zarich said. “You can turn one way to drugs, alcohol… destruction, or you can turn the other way and take charge of your life. Try and pick yourself up by the bootstraps and keep moving forward, literally one step at a time.”
Running has kept her grounded through some of life's most challenging moments and this past December she decided to start training for the Happy Camper ultra-marathon coming up in Westminster in June.
"I was training for a 100-mile foot race," she said. “Set kind of a lofty goal for myself, finish the 100-miler in 24 hours.”
But like so many other events, Kalyca’s race is now canceled to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
"Everyone's been impacted by the virus in some way,” she said. “There's a crossroads. You can go one of two ways. You can either let it get you down, quit, feel defeated — or my goal was to keep pushing forward."
And now, she’s turning her goal into a charitable event. This Friday, she’s planning to run the 100-mile race anyway starting at Niwot High School. Some friends and strangers have already committed to keeping her company through part of it.
"I could put my training to good use and raise money for a worthy cause,” Kalyca said. "And it’s nice to have some smiling faces cheering me on."
The furloughed fitness instructor sees this as a way to give back to all those frontline workers fighting to keep us all safe during the pandemic. She’s raising money on Facebook and on the coloradogives.org site. Her fundraising efforts will go to the Denver nonprofit called Project Helping and its mission to provide gratitude packages to healthcare workers.
“Their mission is amazing,” Kalyca said. “They're actually doing something really amazing for healthcare workers right now."
She's learning what it takes to fight through all the pain and exhaustion associated with ultra-running.
"Believe it or not – a shot of pickle juice – you’ll be cramp-free in no time," Kalyca said.
A mission motivated by all those who are giving so selflessly.
“To show my support for something I'm very grateful for right now," Kalyca said. “All those front-line workers, first responders, doctors, nurses, CNA's really putting themselves in harm’s way.”