Overland Park’s public works director wasn’t at work this past Thursday and Friday, but it was all for a good cause.
Tony Hofmann, a former U.S. Army colonel, led five active serviceman in a marathon in Leadville, Colo., which is nearly two miles above sea level, with the goal of raising money and awareness for military suicide prevention for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
“The team did great,” Hofmann said. “We had our moments.
“It’s a grueling marathon.”
The altitude provides for a drastically different running experience, Hofmann said.
The race has an eight-hour cutoff, and several other checkpoints runners must reach or else they must stop. Hofmann’s team finished with about 25 minutes to spare.
“It’s a totally different mentality to the approach,” Hofmann said. “I don’t want to say time doesn’t matter, but to hit the cutoff times, it requires a detailed plan to do it. You can’t just come out here and assume you’re going to run a marathon at that altitude.”
To get into race condition, Hofmann’s team completed a rigorous 16-week training program. All of a sudden, what had started as a playful idea between Hofmann and his military buddies, but soon developed into a commitment for a cause.
“The cause grew, really, from the event, which then was a challenge for a cause,” Hofmann said. “And now the cause has in the last month, month and a half, taken hold.”
As of Saturday night, the team raised $6,300 dollars but will keep donations open so they can reach their goal of $10,000.
At the race’s highest point, called Mosquito Pass, the runners are at an elevation of 13,185 feet, with banks of snow on either side of them.
According to data from Veterans Affairs, about 8,000 former military members commit suicide each year, an average of 22 a day.
Hofmann graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1990 and was named Overland Park’s public works director in September 2014 after serving as an Army district engineer in Kansas City.