Lake Nona’s very own Megan Cassidy, dubbed The Feisty Runner, is back at it again. Nonahood News last checked in with Cassidy in 2022 when she attempted to beat the world record for consecutive marathons run. While she didn’t beat the world record then, that didn’t stop her from attempting another one. Most recently, Cassidy attempted and successfully beat the world record for most consecutive days to run an ultramarathon distance (female), which currently sits at around 106-107 consecutive days.
In addition to her world record attempt, Cassidy fundraised for Happy Trails Animal Rescue and Innocence Project, two organizations close to her heart. When she learned about the Innocence Project and heard they had exonerated a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 39 years, it pulled on Cassidy’s heartstrings. Thinking about how this could happen to anyone, she wanted to raise awareness and money for the cause. Her decision to fundraise for Happy Trails Animal Rescue was twofold: (1) She raises money for them often. (2) Cassidy lost her dog, Chibby, less than a month before starting this attempt and felt he would have wanted her to help the puppies.
It was important to Cassidy to attempt to beat the world record after coming up short last year. To prepare, Cassidy, already an avid runner, extended her usual runs. “I run a lot as it is. I try to run at least 200 miles per month,” she says. “Since I have 109 marathons behind me, I thought, ‘What’s 5 more miles a day?’” And so, she began. Cassidy ran 23 single-session ultramarathons in 23 days. This means she ran at least 50 kilometers (31.06 miles) every day without breaks. She answered when nature called, had to replenish water or food, empty rocks from her shoes, or wait for traffic crossings, but otherwise she never stopped running.
For many, the mere idea of running 31+ miles a day while hosting two fundraisers is exhausting, but Cassidy faced this challenge like a champion. Cassidy stayed motivated by thinking of her goals and preparing for the unexpected. But, of course, motivation isn’t all a runner has to keep in mind. Cassidy describes her first week of runs as “taxing” and “stressful” because she was going into work after her runs and doing the prep work on her own, but as soon as she finished work on December 23, she knew things were looking up. She was fueled with lots of delicious food, stayed hydrated, and even visited Lake Nona’s DripBar for some treatment.
Partnering with the DripBar made all the difference for Cassidy. The team ensured Cassidy took care of herself, stayed hydrated, and got her vitamins even as she ran 31+ miles a day. “Overall,” she says, “these runs felt SO much nicer than the daily marathons that I ran last year. I went into DripBar for hydration a few times because last year – when attempting the marathon record – I got rhabdo twice. Rhabdo happens when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood. These substances can damage the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability or even death. Dehydration impairs the body’s ability to get rid of these muscle proteins and electrolytes, so I knew I would be visiting the DripBar.”
Along with becoming the NEW world record holder for most consecutive days to run an ultramarathon distance, Cassidy raised $2,000 for Happy Trail Animal Rescue, $763 for Innocence Project, and was even named an ambassador for Newton Running, her ideal running shoe brand.
For readers interested in running, Cassidy offers advice: “Stay hydrated. But also, don’t be intimidated by it. We all start somewhere. I started running basically on a dare. My sister wanted me to run a marathon with her, and I’d never run a day in my life. I showed up on race day and just kept my eye on the prize [to finish before her sister did]. If you don’t try, you don’t know what you can do. There are also several run clubs in the area – the Lake Nona Run Club is great for beginners. They have runners and walkers between 16 minutes per mile and 10 minutes per mile. Not all are marathoners. Some don’t race – they just run to stay fit and socialize. They offer morning and evening sessions Tuesdays and Thursdays and a large group run on Saturday mornings.”
For Nonahood residents who want to support runners, Cassidy asks for patience with early morning runners. “Streetlights light the streets, not the paths and slippery sidewalks (from algae buildup of sprinklers), low-hanging branches, spider webs, and cars hanging over the path are some of the top reasons we run in the road. On the same note – runners: wear your lights!”