THUNDER BAY - After running approximately 50 kilometres, Antonio Stefanile said with a smile that so far, it’s been great, really easy. But there’s nothing easy about running 100 kilometres.
“It’s been tough. The last couple of hours have been pretty tough but we’ve had some amazing support from people coming out to cheer us on,” Stefanile said. “My friend Claudia here has been running with me for quite a while. It really helps to have that support to get me to Hillcrest Park, which is pretty close.”
Stefanile, 34, took on the challenge of running 100 kilometres in support of Thunder Bay Team Unbreakable. The run began early Sunday morning 30 kilometres south of the Pigeon River Border Crossing and followed Highway 61, Boundry Drive, before cutting through city streets on the way to Hillcrest Park.
“It was a personal challenge, a way to celebrate my birthday, and the message of Team Unbreakable and helping build youth confidence, perseverance, and overcoming barriers is something that connects with me and is close to my heart,” Stefanile said.
Team Unbreakable is a running program for youth that helps them train, track progress, and gain self-esteem. As of Sunday afternoon, Stefanile raised more than $3,100, well above the $1,000 goal.
The program is important to Stefanile, who has used running as a way of gaining confidence and overcoming mental and physical challenges, and he would like to see youth achieve the same success.
“It’s helped me become more confident in my ability to set goals and achieve them,” he said. “More so, it’s helped me understand how your mind is just so powerful, so much more powerful than your body.”
Running for the past 14 years, Stefanile competed in the Firefighters 10-Mile Road Race in 2006. He has also competed in marathons and co-founded the UpRiver Running.
Taking on 100 kilometres is something he has never done before but finishing any run, no matter the length, involves the same mental and physical drive.
“Every time you persevere and push through those barriers, it reinforces the fact that you can achieve more than what you are capable of,” Stefanile said. “I think that is what draws me to the sport, and the sense of community too. Everyone in Thunder Bay is just amazing.”
Stefanile finished his 100-kilometre run just before 4 p.m. after running for more than 13 hours.
It was a goal he knew he was going to achieve, whether he was facing 100, 50, or just one kilometer to go or how much gas he had left in the tank.“Whether I do or don’t, I’m going to get there,” he said. “I think with some food and proper hydration, I’m going to get there in one piece and celebrate my birthday.”