HT Alum David Kilgore Runs 100 Miles, Gives Back to New York City

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Brenden Clarke

Holy Trinity alumnus David Kilgore finishes running 100 miles on March 27. His run not only benefited the New York City running community, but hospitals as well.

Charlotte Varnes, Editor-in-Chief

Being an ultra-runner, or one who runs a further distance than a marathon (or two or three marathons), is to be a member of an elite club. Those who have made national and global news for a good cause in the midst of a pandemic are also few and far between. Holy Trinity alum David Kilgore has done both. 

Kilgore, a member of the class of 2011, was a track and cross country standout at Holy Trinity, winning four state titles. Following his successful high school career, Kilgore went on to run collegiately for the University of Colorado for three years, University of Florida for one year, and Oklahoma State University for one year. 

After college, he took a short break from running and, since then, has focused on running road races rather than track and cross country. He has gone on to run several ultra distances, including 50 kilometers, 50 miles, and 100 kilometers. And today, even his career is tied to running due to his work as a footwear representative for On, a Swiss running brand.

Kilgore and his girlfriend Molly transitioned to working remotely just as COVID-19 emerged in the United States. The pair, who live in New York City, sensed that things were about to take a turn for the worse. So, they bought one-way tickets to Kilgore’s hometown of Palm Bay and left the city prior to shelter-in-place orders.

“We knew we were going to be remote at least for the next few weeks; we didn’t know how long it was going to be, but it seemed like it was getting pretty crazy in New York,” Kilgore said. “Our place isn’t the biggest place. It’s pretty tight quarters in a New York City apartment, so we decided to fly down for a week or two while we were working remotely.”

Prior to the pandemic, Kilgore had a few ultra races on his slate, all of which ended up being canceled. He knew that he wanted to continue running while in Florida, and felt that 100 miles was the next distance to try out.

“When I got down here, the majority of my races and activities that I’d planned for the next handful of months had been cancelled due to COVID-19,” Kilgore said. “I was looking for a new way to challenge myself and thought it would be fun to go after [100 miles].” 

When Kilgore flew down, Brenden Clarke, a fellow Holy Trinity graduate turned New Yorker who works as a photographer, expressed interest in shooting photos of him running. Kilgore told him about his plans to run 100 miles, and from there, they developed plans to capture the run and connect with others using social media.

“I don’t know how tech-savvy I am, but about a month ago, I learned that you could do Instagram Live, but with people that could jump into the screen with you,” Kilgore said. “It’s basically Facetime, but you’re on live. I thought, ‘This is actually pretty cool. What if I could start live- chatting people when I was doing the 100 and they could jump in from places all over the world?’ Whether working inside or outside, I thought it would be a fun way to try to connect everybody.”

Following the decision to implement social media, Kilgore realized that he had the opportunity to interact with many others, both nationally and internationally. With such a large audience, he seized the opportunity to benefit two different communities in New York City: running stores and hospital workers. He created a GoFundMe, writing on the page that he desired to “provide front line medical workers supportive footwear while they are working long days,” in addition to helping out running stores. 

“I have close relationships with all of the run-specialty retailers up in New York City,” Kilgore said. “I realized, if I had all of these people connected together doing this, we could potentially raise a little bit of money for retail partners and also try to connect everybody over the social platform. I also talked to one of my friends at On, Caroline [Slawson], and she expanded on the idea. She said, ‘Instead of raffling off all the stuff we could buy from retail partners with the funds, what if we donated it back to medical staff in the city?’ I thought that was a fantastic idea. So, that’s how it all came to be.”

Kilgore ran on March 27th, beginning his race at 4 a.m. and finishing at nearly 10 p.m. He described his route as a “trip down memory lane,” combining many of the locations he ran at while he lived in Brevard. He began in Grant-Valkaria, worked his way to trails in Malabar and the Stick Marsh, and then took 192 all the way down the Melbourne Causeway. From there, he ran on the beachside to the Eau Gallie Causeway, then onto trails at Wickham Park, and ran up Wickham Road to finish at the Viera Wetlands.

“It was pretty cool,” Kilgore said. “It was a mixture of roads, single track trails, and old country roads. I’d say 80% of it was pretty remote, which was pretty great as well, to social distance quite a bit.”

Although Kilgore’s run is well over, his GoFundMe will be open through Easter weekend.

“I’ve gotten a little bit of extra media attention, so I’m going to keep it up a little longer,” Kilgore said. “Hopefully, more donations will come through. I’m also starting to divvy it [the funds] up to which stores will get what, and as it expands, I’ll continue to divvy it up evenly and donate it all to the hospital workers. I’m also trying to work on doing it virtually with codes to the retailers’ shops, just so there’s less people and contact involved.”

As of publication, Kilgore has raised just over $15,000 and has garnered media attention from outlets including The Washington Post, CNN, and Runner’s World. While he won’t be tackling 100 miles again anytime soon, he’s looking forward to trail running and relaxing, and, ultimately, bringing his good deed for New York City to fruition.