Roy Wiegand isn’t getting any younger.
But at 53 the Burbank resident has plans to do more than ever before.
Wednesday at noon Wiegand will depart from Market Place Park and go running off on a journey around the Santa Clarita Valley for 30 consecutive hours hoping to raise money for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, which supports families of children with cancer.
He plans to end Thursday at 6 p.m. outside the food court at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
This is Wiegand’s fourth run that began in memory of Christopher Wilke, a 12-year-old Burbank resident who died of a rare form of cancer in 2014.
“This year I’m kind of excited. It is going to be more about the time. This is 30 hours,” Wiegand said. “I’ve done 24 hours the past couple of years. I feel like I’m going to be able to run a little more than 100 miles this time. I’m excited about that. It is kind of a personal challenge, but of course it is a much bigger cause.”
Wiegand said he only began running in his early 40s and started doing the ultra-distance running after hearing of Wilke’s story.
“When Christopher’s battle came to light here in Burbank, it was such a personal thing. Christopher and my son were in a Boy Scout Troop together,” Wiegand said. “His story and the family’s strength and how they’ve caught on to want to help people that are in that battle that they went through is very moving and inspires me to help in some way.”
In his first run for Christopher, Wiegand traveled 86 miles.
“The first one we did was kind of special. We started at Angel Stadium. It was 2 in the morning,” Wiegand recalled. “Christopher was an avid Little Leaguer. His favorite team was the Angels. We started the run there. We got a ball signed by Mike Trout. That was his favorite player. The family didn’t know about the ball. We met Christopher’s mom and dad and brother in Santa Clarita late that afternoon. I gave them the ball. I came right through Burbank.”
Wiegand said he is running in Santa Clarita because the foundation he is running for is based there and because he said Santa Clarita offers lots of bike trails to run on.
“It will be my fourth run in honor of Christopher and the other kids that are in the middle of fighting cancer here in Burbank and in Glendale and across the San Fernando Valley,” said Wiegand, who noted that 30 families in the Burbank-Glendale area are currently being assisted by the Michael Hoefflin Foundation.
Wiegand said he plans to exceed the 100 miles that he has gone the past two years.
“I have to get at least 100 miles. I’m not going to let myself go home without doing that. That’s my minimum,” Wiegand said.
To prepare for the event, Wiegand said he often runs uphill in the mountains in Burbank above De Bell Golf Course.
”I try to be very careful not to over train or do too many miles. It is very difficult on your bod,” Wiegand said.” Your body takes a lot of punishment running. There are a lot of great benefits to running, but also it beats you up pretty good. I generally haven’t run more than 20 miles on a training run for the most part, although this year for the first time I did a 40 miler. I did that about four weeks ago.”
He isn’t too concerned with the longer distance.
“Ultra-distance running is 90 percent mental. The other 10 percent is in your head,” Wiegand said. “You can talk yourself in or out of anything. I like to think it helps me being a little bit older. I can maybe think a little bit outside the box and talk myself into it.”
What he is concerned with are the temperatures he may face.
“The temperature is going to jump up into the 90s this Wednesday just in time for my run. It will be over 95 Wednesday and Thursday when I’m up in Santa Clarita,” Wiegand said. “That means on the bike path it will be over 100 degrees with the asphalt and heat coming off there.
The challenge to staying hydrated is really tough. It’s almost possible to stay hydrated enough. It’s almost impossible not to be dehydrated because of the extreme temperatures and the mileage. So I drink as much as I can and hopefully I’m peeing a lot. If you stop peeing, you know you are dehydrated.”
Wiegand said he doesn’t have plans to make any long stops other than using a restroom.
“Sometimes I do eat on the run. I might take a break or two to stop and change shoes and maybe put on a clean shirt. But none of those stops are more than a few minutes,” he said. “I’m not running as fast as I can. I’m doing an easy pace. It’s all about keeping moving. As long as you are moving, it doesn’t really matter how fast you are going.”
Wiegand said this year’s goal is to raise $13,100 for the foundation. He noted that this is equal to $100 per mile for five marathons. It is an average of six hours per marathon.
“It is still a very Burbank-centric event. Christopher’s family lives here, I live here. A lot of our supporters and donors live in Burbank,” Wiegand said. “It will tie in nice with Santa Clarita because that’s where the foundation is.”
Wiegand said this year fans will also be able to track his progress during the run.
“I’m having a GPS tracker with me the whole run so you will be able to see what mile I’m on,” he said. “You download the app on your phone. It is a free app and every five miles I get to you get an alert, Roy is at mile 10 or 20 or 30 or whatever it is.”
For more information on supporting Wiegand by donating money to the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, visit Mhf.org on the Internet.
“The kids really inspire me, Christopher’s story of course. The kids that are fighting their battle now, it is the fight of their lives,” Wiegand said. “If I get tired or uncomfortable a little bit or start hurting I think about them. I’m blessed. I’m healthy and I’ve got the ability to run a long way and what a privilege it is to do it for them.”