100 Miles of Hope

   Running.  It is mankind’s oldest form of transportation.  Some do it for fun, others do it competitively, and it’s safe to assume that everyone who runs does it with the aspiration of physical fitness in mind.  For some though, there is a greater goal in mind. 
   Meet Doug Flis.  On Sept. 14 Doug will embark from his home in Ontario, Canada and head south 104 miles; destination, The Ilex Inn in Ellicottville, NY.  And while there will be plenty of other Canadians who do the exact same thing that weekend, what separates Flis from everyone else is that he will make the journey courtesy of his own two feet.   That’s worth repeating.  In a timeframe between 28-30 hours, Doug Flis is running from Ontario to Ellicottville and he will be doing it all in the name of charity.
   Flis (pictured second from left) has been running for various charities for thirty years and has already done this particular run to Ellicottville three times (in 1990, 1991, and 2011).  He started visiting Ellicottville back in the 80’s when his brother, Gord purchased a house in the area. 
   “I have been running for 38 years, ever since I quit smoking in 1975,” Flis stated.  “I started running marathons, qualifying for Boston thirteen times but running it six times.  I then tried 50- and 100-mile runs to challenge myself.”
   Based on his running resume, Flis is never one to back down from a challenge.  He is a co-founder of the Grimsby Runners (www.grimsbyrunners.com), which provides walk/run and running clinics as well as personal training for pace, endurance, core training, strength and weights.  Since his passion for running began, Flis has run 75 marathons, two or three 50-mile runs, and between ten and twelve 100-mile runs.  He has also completed the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. 
   It’s not just all about the challenge for Flis though.  The sense of doing something for the betterment of others seems to rank very high on his priority list.  “I mix up my charity runs,” he said. “I have run for the Ronald McDonald House, cancer, heart and stroke, and Children’s Hospital.”  
   Over the course of his running career Flis has raised thousands of dollars for various charities.
   This run to the Ilex Inn will benefit Camp New Horizons of the Cattaraugus County Mental Health Association.  
   “The reason for this charity was an article I read in a newspaper about mental health not getting the funding other charities get,” said Flis.  “I originally started it to raise funds, but now realize with the stigma of mental health, no one wants to talk about it. Many, many people are affected by someone who is depressed, suicidal, bullied, etc.”  
   For more information on Camp New Horizons, visit www.mhacatt.org.
   When Rick and Glenda Jackson, owners of the Ilex Inn (www.ilexinn.com) since December 2010, found out about Doug’s run, they were more than happy to offer up their services. 
   “Glenda and I love helping out with charity events,” said Rick.  “We ran a cycling club event in Florida for three years called Pedal for P.A.L. (Police Athletic League).  So we offered to do whatever we could to help make Doug’s event a success.” 
   The Ilex will be hosting a BBQ at 3pm on the day of Doug’s run, and it will last until they run out of chicken to sell.  There will also be a 50/50 raffle and numerous donated items will be raffled off throughout the afternoon. 
   According to Rick, they are planning for Doug’s arrival to the Ilex Inn somewhere between 3pm and 4pm.  Based on Doug’s meticulous preparations, he should be right on time.  “To prepare for these runs, I do two or three 50-mile runs, and many shorter run,” he said.  “On the long training runs, I run all night, from 6pm to 6am.”  
   The reason for this is so that Flis can teach himself the concentration necessary for running in the dark where eyesight is limited and obstacles are more abundant.   
   If anyone is interested in running all or part of the run with Doug, they are encouraged to contact Rick or Glenda at the Ilex Inn at 716-699-2002.  They are hoping that a large group of people will meet up with Doug at the corner of Route 242 and 219 (at the Tim Horton’s site) and finish the run with him.  And for those of you who are not runners, you are still encouraged to come out to the Ilex Inn and take part in the fundraising, food, and other festivities.
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