There’s a space that sits directly at the intersection of ultramarathoning and social media, and it’s inhabited by a 22-year-old runner named Timmy Zhou. Earlier this year, Zhou spent the better part of three months running over 3,000 miles across the country, documenting the whole process on TikTok and Instagram. His goal? To raise money for Vetpaw, an anti-poaching nonprofit organization.
All told, it took Zhou 88 days to cross the country, with his fundraiser bringing in over $24,000. And, as The Washington Post reports, his journey may well prove that good things can still come from social media.
There’s plenty to admire in Zhou’s story. First, there’s the fact that he hasn’t been actively running for a long time; as he told the Post, he only started in 2020. His cross-country jaunt wasn’t his first ultramarathon; instead, he spent the years leading up to it taking part in other lengthy races, and dedicated what would have been his final semester in college to training after graduating a semester ahead of schedule.
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“There was a thought that I can think of a really big running challenge and then use that as a catalyst for fundraising for something that I care about,” Zhou told the Post — and the results of his journey, both in terms of the distance covered and the money and awareness raised for his chosen cause.
Zhou isn’t the only ultrarunner to document his treks on social media. Last year, Summit Daily wrote about Colorado-based runner Michael Mitchell, who documented his journey from having zero experience running to running ultramarathons, amassing 87,000 followers on TikTok in the process. Running absurdly long distances can make for a compelling story — and social media seems to always be up for one of those.