Some people enjoy hiking or jogging on weekends, but this Saturday and Sunday, fourth-year film & media studies major Bee-oh Kim will be running the equivalent of the distance between Santa Barbara to Los Angeles.
In a the Relay for Life event to raise money for the American Cancer Society, Kim has challenged himself with the goal of running for 24 straight hours. And if that’s not enough, he is hoping to complete 100 miles in the process. But before you fall completely out of your chair from reading that last sentence, it should be noted that he has a previous century run — 100 miles — under his belt and possesses the drive to do the impossible.
“Right after [the UCSB triathlon team’s trip to the NCAA] Nationals last year, I trained [for the century run] for four months,” Kim said. “I was pretty good for 65 miles or so, then crawled the rest of the way in. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and definitely one of those things that changes your life.”
The Seoul, South Korea native has been living a relatively intense lifestyle since joining the UCSB triathlon team, but it wasn’t always that way. For his first few years of college, he did not compete in the three-part event, despite his interest in running.
“About two years ago, I did two marathons, and then I thought I could go a little farther than this,” Kim said. “It sounded more adventurous, so at night I would tell my parents that I’m going to party or hang out with my friends, and then I would run all night, come back, pass out, and they would think that I had been partying all night.”
Kim began serious competition following his junior year, but he soon outgrew the desire to simply run faster than everyone else. As racing became less satisfying, Kim switched gears and decided to run with higher purposes in mind.
Enter the Relay for Life. The idea that running constantly could symbolize the never-ending fight against cancer was a perfect fit for the senior.
“Two of my grandpas died of liver cancer,” Kim said. “One of them was really athletic and a mountaineer. He was such a strong influence in my life and then I saw him crumble because of cancer. After he passed away, I started [running for causes], so cancer has definitely influenced my life and has made me start living to the fullest.”
Looking back at his participation in the century run, Kim explained that he trained a lot for the event, but he has only had three to four weeks since the end of triathlon season to maintain his fitness and prepare for the Relay for Life. Despite a slight hesitancy out of concern for his own health, however, Kim is driven by the philosophy that brought him here in the first place.
“Running, for me, is a metaphor for life,” Kim said. “I wish to show cancer patients that anything is possible, because I’m only doing this for one day while they’re fighting for who knows how long. That’s something to be inspired by.”
Bee-oh Kim will be joined by over 700 people at the UCSB track this Saturday. The event begins at noon and will last until the same time the following day.