Geordan Bimson and Alex Huffman kept true to their word and accomplished the grueling feat of running 15 miles to Marion County R-II High School.
It all began with one simple idea.
Nearly three years ago, Geordan Bimson and Alex Huffman were on the bus for a cross country meet when they came up with an ambitious plan.
The pair agreed that before their time together at Marion County R-II High School was over, they would run 15 miles to school.
On Tuesday morning, the friends followed through, starting their journey at the break of dawn at the Bimson household and arriving at the high school in Philadelphia in time for the opening bell.
Bimson, a senior, entered the building for his final day of high school more exhausted yet more satisfied than he can remember.
“Last day of senior year, I wanted to work hard and run to school, do something that wouldn't happen usually,” Bimson said.
Without the support of Huffman, a junior, the feat likely would not have happened.
“This was pretty much my way of showing him this is his graduation present by me running with him,” Huffman said. “It's something to really achieve and work for, and I wanted to do it with him. It was really awesome.”
The duo, teammates in baseball, basketball and cross country, woke at 4:30 a.m. and began their run 45 minutes later.
They winded their way through gravel county roads, taking rest stops at each five-mile marker along their route.
The first five miles proved much easier than the last five.
“I think pretty well the whole time we were thinking, 'Why? Why did we decide to do this?'” Bimson admitted. “The first five to seven miles, we felt good, but once we hit that 10-mile mark, that's when the pain really kicked in. That's when we were hurting real bad. We just kept on pushing and each time one of us would say something about quitting, the other one would just be like, 'No, we've got to finish this out.'”
By the last leg of their run going west on Highway 168, they were less than two miles away from their destination.
Unfortunately, with just a fraction of the route remaining, Huffman experienced leg cramps that could have jeopardized the mission.
“We were both feeling good at the beginning,” Huffman said. “I was really surprised the first ten miles that I had made it that far. But the last five, it was really the hardest. It's when my legs, my muscles started cramping up and I was just going through that exhaustion state. I almost couldn't even finish. I had to stop for a minute at the end because I got a big cramp in my calf. He got me up and we kept pushing.
“I had to show him I was going to do this with him. This is his senior year and I know how much he liked running cross country, so I enjoyed doing it with him. It was amazing.”
Although both boys proved up to the challenge, Huffman said they underestimated how hard running 15 miles would be.
“I thought I felt a lot of pain in cross country meets with 3.1 miles,” Huffman said. “But today, I've never felt that type of hurting in my legs. It was great to know I could actually push through it.”
Once the pair arrived at the high school, they were greeted by a throng of family, friends and teachers for an impromptu celebration in the parking lot.
While most people “just said that we were crazy,” according to Bimson, that didn't stop the community from supporting the two dehydrated yet elated runners once they accomplished their goal.
“It was great how everybody cheered and everybody supported us so well,” Bimson said. “We finally ran the 15 miles. We've been saying it, but in the back of your head you always think, 'No way we're gonna do this.' It was great seeing everybody there supporting us and being that great of friends and family around us and helping support us with this big achievement that we got.”
“I'm still surprised,” Huffman said. “I didn't know there was going to be a bunch of people when we ran up to the school. There were so many teachers lined up and his family and our friends. It was just nice to see how much people knew we worked for this. It was really difficult. Just the achievement that we got and knowing that our nice school faculty and everybody came in to care for us, it was really amazing.”
In recent weeks, the buildup about the pair's 15-mile run was palpable in the Marion County community.
The accomplishment was a long time coming.
“We ended up just talking about it and decided that we were gonna,” Bimson said of his conversation with Huffman three years ago. “We pretty well forgot about it but one of us remembered it at some point and brought it up to the other and said, 'Let's do it. Let's go.' We ended up getting together and getting it done.”
The two said they finalized their plans over the past three months, working with their families to choose a route deemed acceptable.
“We decided for sure that we wanted to do this and we were gonna go run it,” Bimson said. “We were going to get the goal we had for a long time.”
From a simple idea to reality three years later, the close friends said they don't regret taking on the challenge — even though their worn-down bodies may respond otherwise.
Each student said it's because they're such good friends that accomplishing the feat was possible.
“Three miles, that's a lot everyday to run with someone,” Huffman said of cross country practices with Bimson. “That's a lot of time to talk. We just spent time running together. That's how we got to know each other. This year, we've gotten really close.”
Even when one wanted to quit during their grueling journey, the bond of their friendship kept them going.
“We're good buddies, so that's what you need to do with that sort of situation,” Bimson said. “Keep pushing, listen to your buddy and keep working.”