Many people run marathons to support their favorite charities—admirable pursuits, without a doubt—but Amy Compston is going the extra mile. Actually, she’s going the extra 23.8 miles.
The 28-year-old ER nurse and athlete from Ashland, KY, is gearing up for November’s nearby Nashville Ultra Marathon 50-Mile, a race she’s using to raise money for mission work in Uganda.
On her newly launched Amy for Africa website, Compston offers several ways to get involved and help her cause. Folks can pledge money for every mile she runs, or they can nudge her closer to her goal of $10,000 by sponsoring her race at a bronze ($100), silver ($250), or gold ($500) level.
All of the money goes to United Christian Expeditions and its initiatives in Uganda. Compston first learned about the struggling African nation through her local Unity Baptist church, which supports a pair of schools there. It was a video of children singing, she said, that made the biggest impression.
“It really touched my heart,” Compston told Ashland’s Daily Independent newspaper. “From that point on, I started supporting that need. At one point last year we considered adopting from Uganda but, where it’s so remote, it’s almost impossible. I felt God calling me to that area, I just didn’t know how.”
Compston isn’t just a devout Christian with a strong work ethic and an interest in fitness. She was among the top 15 percent of female finishers at the 2013 Boston Marathon, averaging 7:55 per mile. She completed the race roughly a half-hour before the bombs exploded near the finish line, and neither she nor any of the 21 family members who accompanied her to Beantown was injured.
Clearly, she can handle 26.2 miles—but 50 is another matter. Enter Eric Grossman, a Virginia college professor who is one of the country’s top ultramarathoners. Grossman read about Compston in the newspaper and offered to coach her as she trains for the grueling event.
“The key is finding a plan and sticking to it,” Compston said. “Finding one that fits your schedule.”
As of the first week of June, she was running 40 miles per week, but by the end of this month, she’ll be doing as much as 57 miles in four days. The regimen calls for 24 miles one day, followed by 18, then a recovery day, and finally another 15. It’s a punishing routine, especially for a mother of four children with a full-time job, but Compston has been careful to grant herself proper rest—something she learned was crucial while prepping for Boston.
And good training habits might not be the only thing on her side.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity that God has given me,” Compston said. “People do know me now and know what I’m doing. It’s a platform he has given me to use for him.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg