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Running To Fight Food Insecurity With Adam Cordell

Adam Cordell is a Cheyenne native who graduated from East High School and University of Wyoming. He has been a Physical Education teacher at Baggs and Fairview Elementary Schools for the last six years, and loves his job. He's also a marathon runner, and was scheduled to run the Boston Marathon on April 20 before it was postponed. It's been difficult for him to be separated from his students for the past two months, but he has continued to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for them—and for anyone who knows what he's been up to lately. We "sat down" with Adam to ask him about it!

How long have you been a marathon runner?

I have been running marathons for a little over three years now averaging about 7 or 8 marathons a year*. Running was introduced to me as an escape from anxiety a few years ago. I just ran all my frustrations out and then I saw I was getting faster and faster so I decided to make it a real hobby. To prepare for the Boston Marathon, I had a coach make me a plan that included 100 mile weeks full of tempo runs, long runs, and track workouts. I finished out the plan even though I knew I wasn't going to Boston. 

How did you feel when you learned you wouldn’t be running in Boston?

When all of this Covid stuff happened I thought to myself, "Please don't take my students away and please don't cancel marathons." And then of course both of them were void of my life for a while which was hard and still is hard. I still worked hard in my training, but my intensity did come down just a little bit because it is so hard to run every day for me with no goal in mind. The Boston Marathon did get rescheduled for September, but that is so far away in my mind and I don't know if that will even get cancelled too. Even my New York Marathon in November is questionable. 

So lately I have really just found the enjoyment in running. It has become a part of my every day routine and feel like I would go crazy without putting in the miles. Lately I have been looking at some Ultra Marathons that could possibly happen in the near future. 

How were your plans to run a marathon in Cheyenne received by your students?

When I couldn't run in Boston, I decided to stick with the date and run a marathon in Cheyenne that day. A lot of my students are interested in my running and they saw that I was running a fundraiser marathon in Cheyenne on Facebook. With good social distancing, they were there for me along the course all around the city which uplifted my spirits tremendously.

Adam Cordell runs fundraising marathon in Cheyenne
Cheering section at the intersection of Converse and Lincolnway


Why did you decide to turn it into a fundraiser for Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies?

My mother* actually has a lot to do with the fundraiser part. She heard me mention that I was running a marathon on Boston Marathon day in Cheyenne and her great mind wanted to partner with me to raise money for the food bank. We attend Element Church and they do great things with the Food Bank of the Rockies. Families in this time are having such a hard time behind the scenes and plenty of families need food on the table. I know a lot of my students are probably in this population too and I cannot stand to think of them not getting the nutrients they want and need. As a PE teacher I feel like it is my duty in this community to be a leader in getting the message out that nutrition is an absolute vital element of your health. If you don't have adequate food in your home, you will most likely navigate to less expensive food that is full of nothing but bad things for your body. Again, most of the credit goes to Kathy Cordell, my mother. She has a gift in promotion. Mine is in running. Together we did great things which excites me. 

Support from the home team

How do you encourage your students—and anyone experiencing this lockdown—to stay active and motivated? 

I would say set a schedule. The day before set goals for yourself such as "I will run at least 2 miles before 10 in the morning" or "When I sit down, I will set an alarm for 35 minutes to remind myself to get up and get some steps in." I look at this time of quarantine to be a time to get ahead of the game. Look at all the time we have to do things like exercise! Before all of this our excuse was that we didn't have the time. Well, now most of us have all the time in the world. There's no excuses, just get up and move. Your body is designed to move and goes haywire when sedentary. My students know this. I remind them with silly videos that I put on my YouTube channel for them through this time of remote learning. 60 minutes a day of even low intensity exercise will do wonders for you in your life.   

How much was raised in the end for Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies?

$54,327, enough to help provide over 217,000 meals. WOW! Thank you, Cheyenne.

“Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies is humbled by the efforts of Adam and the entire Cheyenne community in support of him. His personal “Boston Marathon” has helped to raise needed dollars for those facing hunger in Wyoming.  He and the people of Cheyenne have made gifts that will provide hope.” —Tony Woodell, Director, Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies

*Adam isn't just any marathon runner; in fact, he won the 2019 Cheyenne Marathon with a personal best of 2 hours, 37 minutes, 23 seconds.

**Kathy Cordell, Adam's proud mom, is "amazed at the outpouring from the Cheyenne community. It is amazing what can happen when you just say 'yes' to help meet the needs of the world."


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