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Local runners taking to the Appalachian Trail

Taking part in continuous run through the Georgia portion of the trail

POSTED: June 9, 2011 7:07 p.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Runners from left: Phil Boneli, Sue Allen, Peter Kite, Mike Taylor and Jason Everett practice for an upcoming 80-mile run Wednesday at Wilshire Trails Park in Gainesville. The running team will run an 80-mile segment of the Appalachian Trail this weekend to raise money for "Camp Twitch and Shout," a camp for kids with Tourette's Syndrome.

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A handful of runners from Team Endurance are certainly going to help the group live up to its name this weekend.

This group of five runners, spearheaded by Mike Taylor of Gainesville, will run the 79-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail through Georgia starting this morning from Bly Gap at the North Carolina state line, and running straight through to the southern base of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain on Saturday afternoon.

Taylor, 53, organized the group for their first race with the Todd Taylor Foundation's Team Endurance, a group that raises money for childhood charities in memory of his late brother.

All the proceeds raised by runners from this event are going toward Camp Twitch and Shout, a summer camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome, at Camp Twin Lakes in Winder.

"It really motivates you to run when it's going to a good cause," Taylor said. "We've raised enough money to send five kids to summer camp."

Taylor said he was set on the cause by watching a TV special about children that have Tourette's.

Camp Twitch and Shout director and co-founder Hailey Sasine was honored that these athletes would go out of their way and totally unsolicited to race funds for her camp.

"The more kids we can send to camp, the better," Sasine said.

Along with Taylor on the run will be Dawsonville's Susan Allen, Phil Bonelli, from Gainesville, and Jason Everett and Andy Nguyan, both of Atlanta.

They have an even bigger support team that will meet the team along the way at rest stops where the trail crosses highways to load them up with food and drinks.

All the members of this running team have participated in many running events, ranging from 5K races to ultramarthons, but know this race will be unique in so many ways with the steepness of the mountains, isolation from others, and wildlife to contend with that is common in the Northeast Georgia mountains.

According to information gathered by Taylor, the change in elevation runners will cover is equivalent to going from the base of Mount Everest to its summit twice.

"This is the most extreme event that I've done in terms of the hours without stopping," said Allen, who has previously completed more than a dozen Ironman triathlons. "The Ironman is probably just as hard, but at least your not always working the same muscles."

The idea for running the Appalachian Trail was hatched by Taylor when the group ran the Dawson Forest 50K race early in March in Dawsonville.

All the players in the run are already seasoned athletes, so it wasn't a matter of taking a raw athlete and building their endurance from scratch.

Even though the running part is not an issue, they are a little unsure how running through the night is going to work out. They'll each have a headlamp to make it possible to see the trail.

"This is all about pushing yourself to the edge," Taylor said. "The tougher, the better."

Of course, as any runner knows, doing distance events isn't all about sacrifice. Training and taking part in an event that will burn thousands of calories always runners to loosen up their dietary constraints, while still staying fit.

"We've been able to eat whatever we want," Taylor said.

Hamburgers, french fries and Krispy Kreme doughnuts have all been given the green light by this group as they step into doing this run that, according to Taylor, has only been completed once continuously before.

"I'll be the oldest to make the run, and Susan will be the first woman," Taylor said.

 



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