For the third year in a row, I'm testing myself against the Virgil Crest 50-Mile Ultra. It's an ultramarathon-distance trail running race that covers 50 miles with 10,000 feet of vertical gain. That's roughly the equivalent of running back-to-back marathons, off-road, while climbing to the top of the Empire State Building 8 times.
Why am I doing this yet again? Simple: to support the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.
In January 2007 I was de facto diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 3 millions Americans (about 1% of the US population). For me, it was a life-changing diagnosis. After several years of growing dramatically sicker, a doctor switched me to a gluten-free diet, and life pulled a 180. Now I'm arguably healthier than I've ever been.
Unfortunately, many people with gluten intolerance, including celiac disease and other gluten-related conditions such as gluten gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy, haven't had that same success story. They are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and as a result, they face a spectrum of serious potential health complications - malnutrition, fatigue, diarrhea, osteoporosis, heightened risk for certain cancers, and in extreme cases, even death.
That's why the NFCA is so important. The organization's work for the gluten-free community, including outreach to medical care providers and restaurants, raises awareness, increases rates of diagnosis, and ultimately improves - and saves - lives.
In the first two years of the Gluten-Free Ultramarathon Challenge, together we raised more than $6,500. This year, I want to blow that number out of the water. I'd love to raise more than $5,000, or $100 per mile. At the very least, let's help the 3-year total surpass $10,000!
Please help me support this great organization and worthy cause. Maybe you're gluten-free. Maybe you know someone who is - a family member, friend, or coworker. Together, we can make a difference. Remember: "gluten-free" is not a fad or a chic diet. For those whose lives are touched by the work of the NFCA, "gluten-free is a lifelong commitment and the difference between health and sickness, between life and death.