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Ultramarathon runner going the distance to raise awareness, funds for MS research

Kendra Miller will run the Colorado stretch of the MS Run the US relay, running from Steamboat Springs to Denver.

DENVER — Local long-distance runner Kendra Miller was selected to run a stretch of the MS Run the US Relay

The Ultra Relay is a 19-segment, 3,260-mile-long relay run across the United States to raise awareness and funds to support multiple sclerosis research.

“It’s the longest relay in the world across the entire United States starting in Santa Cruz and ending up in New York, New York,” Miller said. “My segment’s going to be 179 miles from Steamboat to Denver.”

Credit: Byron Reed
Long-distance trail and ultra runner Kendra Miller

MS is a disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, nearly 1 million people are affected by MS in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 2.8 people are living with the chronic disease worldwide. It’s a fact that resonates with Miller.

“I found out two family members, one of which is very close, got diagnosed with MS,” Miller said. “I just felt like I should be doing this, and so I applied to be a runner, and a few interviews later I got accepted, and so here I am completely stepping out of my comfort zone.”

Credit: Byron Reed

Miller has been fundraising and training since October with a mission of her own. Her brother-in-law, 44, was diagnosed with MS. She said she plans to dedicate every mile she runs to him.

“Every time I run, and it’s something that maybe is a little bit out of my comfort, I just think more about especially my brother-in-law,” Miller said. “His whole life has changed, and he’s completely out of his comfort zone every day. It kind of helps push me through.”

Credit: Kendra Miller

Miller, who grew up in Colorado, said she’s used to running at altitude. She said her part of the relay will take her over Rabbit Ears Pass (9,426 feet) and Loveland Pass (11,991 feet).

“I’ve had a lot of people who said, ‘Oh, it’s all downhill.’ No, it is not,” Miller said. “Luckily, I’ve lived here my whole life, so altitude comes fairly easy to me, which is great.”

The MS Run Across the US was started in 2009 by Ashley Schneider from Wisconsin. She ran the inaugural 3,288-mile run across the country by herself. The relay run started in 2013 from Santa Monica to New York. It's made up of a team of 19 runners—each running six marathons in six days and fundraising at least $10,000.

Credit: Kendra Miller

Miller said it will take her six days to finish her portion of the race, running about 30 miles--more than a marathon--every day. She hopes to raise her $10,000 before she starts her trek in May.

“I will be training for something much, much bigger,” Miller said. “Spreading more awareness and helping others that need it.”

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