SEQUIM — Just a few miles into her runs the clamor of Twyla Luke’s everyday life fades away.
“I love it — it’s mind clearing, time to meditate,” the Sequim resident said.
“I can fix the world on my runs.”
On her next long run Luke hopes to help fix her own part of the world, as she prepares to run 50 miles on her 50th birthday.
Luke looks to raise at least $5,000 Sunday to help the Sequim Food Bank purchase fresh produce during the winter months.
As of Thursday, her fundraiser had raised $4,020 in 47 days, according to her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/donate/ 307389839819653.
Dubbed “50 Miles for $5K,” the fundraiser was something Luke had been thinking about for about two-and-a-half years.
No stranger to helping out at the food bank, Luke — who serves as a youth leader at her Seventh-day Adventist Church — and fellow church member Wayne Christensen started a program to have the church youth and members serve the hungry in Sequim with meals on Sundays.
“To me, being a Christian isn’t being a Christian without reaching out,” Luke said.
The group’s first meal was Super Bowl Sunday in early 2016, Luke recalled, and saw just a handful of folks show up. Since then, twice a month, rain or shine, the group feeds groups as small as four up to about 16.
“These are people who really need a meal,” Luke said. “Honestly, most of them just really need a friend.”
One of Luke’s other passions is running. No stranger to putting in the miles, she said she ran her first race as a third-grader and has been running off and on since.
With the long distance idea percolating in her mind, Luke approached food bank representatives with an idea that her 50-miler could help raise funds for growing property adjacent to the food bank for the facility’s operations. (In years prior, Luke’s church had considered buying the property and collaborating with the food bank, Luke said, but the proposal fell through.)
That’s when Samantha Troxler, community engagement coordinator for the Sequim Food Bank, proposed a plan that would help food bank users more immediately and directly: use the run to buy fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter months.
“Sam was right; the winter months are brutal for us [for fruits and vegetables],” said Andra Smith, food bank executive director.
“People don’t want to give to something they can’t see,” Luke said, but people are more likely to support healthful eating.
With her goal and target set, Luke began preparing her body for what amounts to almost two marathons, back-to-back.
She added several organized runs, both in Washington state — the Sequim-Port Angeles North Olympic Discovery Marathon (relay), the Rhody Run in Port Townsend (twice), the Skagit Valley Flats Marathon in Burlington — and across borders — the Bizz Johnson 50-kilometer race in Susanville, Calif., and the Jerusalem Marathon — in addition to training runs.
Her longest run to date? The final 35 miles of an 85-mile run in November 2017 alongside Sequim’s Chuck Milliman as he, coincidentally, ran to raise funds for the Sequim Food Bank on his 85th birthday.
“She was the best help,” Milliman said.
“He’d already run 50 miles [by that point],” Luke recalled.
That run itself didn’t seem to take its toll because the pair were taking breaks often, Luke said … until she went home.
“I could hardly get out of my car,” she said.
For Luke, running long distances isn’t too tough past the first few miles, which are not pleasant.
“I know what sits on the other side of three or four miles: my body feels OK,” she said.
On Sunday, she’ll have many more miles to do. Luke said she’s planning to start at 5 a.m. at the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) trailhead at Diamond Point Road.
Her course follows the ODT to Port Angeles and out onto Ediz Hook before turning back east toward Sequim, finishing at her family’s home off Kitchen-Dick Road.
She’ll have support from several family members, Luke said, but noted she wouldn’t turn down any community members out on the trail to cheer her on.
“I would be thrilled if I could complete it in 12 hours,” Luke said.
To donate, go to the run’s Facebook page, go online at the food bank website at www.sequimfoodbank.org or mail a check to the food bank at P.O. Box 1453, Sequim WA 98382.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].