By Beth Treffeisen
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Back Bay resident Kevin Koncilja will brave the cold winter temperatures to run a 50-mile ultramarathon, followed by a party at Tracksmith Trackhouse on Newbury Street, to raise funds and awareness for the Martin Richard Foundation.
The 50-mile loop will be five 10-mile loops around the Back Bay, and will take place from 5 a.m. to around 3 p.m. The after party at Tracksmith at 285 Newbury St. will take place from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“I’ve never done an ultramarathon before,” said Koncilja. “I always put charity in front of running, and I thought this event would be very unique way to raise money.”
To date, the event has raised $1,872 for the foundation, with a goal of raising $2,500 by the end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Over the past five years, Koncilja has worked to raise about $25,000 for the foundation.
Founded in 2014, the Martin Richard Foundation is a charitable foundation formed by parents of 8-year-old Martin, who was killed in the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. The foundation works to provide opportunities for individuals and communities to live out the values of peace, justice and kindness.
A donation to the foundation provides athletic programs for kids with development disabilities in the Challenger Sports program, micro-grants for community service projects through the Bridge Builders program and support to other local charities sharing similar values.
Koncilja first moved to Boston from Ohio in 2012 for his job as an audit manger at John Hancock. For his entire life, he has been involved in charities and quickly took on helping a Food Pantry once a week after moving here.
In the days following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, people left thousands of items at the police barricades, forming a makeshift memorial in honor of those lost. One in particular stood out – where people left teddy bears and peace signs for Martin.
At the time of the bombing Koncilja lived only a few blocks away and would often visit the memorial before and after work, saying a prayer for the Richard family.
“I would think about how I could help out and be a better person,” said Konciljia.
He soon reached out to the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, a charity he knew well from doing a presentation in high school on it and asked what he could do to help out.
Before he knew it, he found himself training to be part of their charitable team in the 2014 Boston Marathon. “I thought, I’m not a runner,” said Koncilja. “In high school, I was timed out of the cross country team because I was too slow.”
But he did it and had a blast running his first marathon. “In 2014 everyone was just so proud for the city, and it was very important day for the city,” said Koncilja.
Then just one month after running his first marathon ever, he was on a casual run after work near the finish line on Boylston Street when he tripped and hit the pavement. In the freak accident, he broke his femur in half.
Koncilja soon had surgery that placed a 1 1/2-foot metal rod into his leg. Since he didn’t have anyone to help take care of him he was placed in an assisted living center near Coolidge Corner in Brookline.
“I never thought I would be able to run again,” said Koncilja.
But out of a window he had to work to walk to in the assisted living facility, he was able to see the CITGO sign, a marathon marker saying there is one mile left in the race.
During his long rehab he worked to become stronger and faster, enough to complete his second marathon the following year at a faster time than his first. In the three and a half years since his injury he has run 16 marathons from Cleveland, Ohio all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada (including 13 marathons in the past 18 months).
To top off his athletic achievements, on Sept. 10, 2017, he qualified for the Boston Marathon.
“It’s been crazy,” said Koncilja.
This ultramarathon will be the longest distance for Koncilja to date. The run will be a challenge, especially in the cold, which causes the metal rod in his leg to tense up.
“I might just have to start earlier and walk a little more but I’m getting this run done,” said Koncilja.
Up next, Koncilja will be a pacer for the Cleveland Marathon and plans on raising more money for the Martin Richard Foundation during the 2018 Boston Marathon.
Participants are encouraged to join Koncilja for his run. The first 20 miles he will be doing with a friend but anyone with a waiver can join him later in the run as he makes his loops around the Back Bay, landing on Newbury Street each time.
For more information visit bit.ly/mlkrun50fb.