Washington, DC

Ashley Donovan is used to starting off her ultramarathons with a low-key command. “Go” usually suffices. But the start of her latest 24-hour run was accompanied by sirens. 

At 6:01 a.m. May 9, as she started on a day’s worth of solitary 0.2-mile loops around the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad building and parking lot, an ambulance rolled out on a call. That service, and her fundraising run, hammered home the 24-hour nature of emergency response and demonstrated why she was doing this. The secretary on BCCRS’ Board of Directors, Donovan, of Upper Northwest D.C., has been a volunteer EMT since 2015. 

“People have been surprised when they hear I’m still volunteering,” during the coronavirus pandemic, she said. “This was a fine opportunity to highlight the role of volunteers in our emergency response system.”

The fundraising effort around her feat totaled more than $11,000, which will be split between the rescue squad and Feed the Fight, a nonprofit that feeds emergency and healthcare workers meals from local restaurants and caterers. 

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Tysons’s Chris Gellene, 58, spent his Easter Sunday differently than most. While families around the country were asleep in bed, Gellene was finishing up a 100-mile run sometime between 3:30 and 4 in the morning. But after some rest and a good night’s sleep, he says, “I got up the next day, it was Easter morning. I got and went about my Sunday.”

Originally signed up to run the Pistol 100-Miler in Tennessee, Gellene was worried when he learned that he would not be able to run the race. Gellene is no stranger to the 100-mile distance. The Pistol 100-Miler would have been his 12th.

“I trained for it and I was in shape and I’d run a lot of mileage,” he said.

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