Craig Bachrodt of Ocala takes on 100-mile run for charity and in honor of late mother

Craig Bachrodt’s earliest memory of running dates back to the early 1970s. He and his mother took to the snow-filled streets of his hometown Rockford, Illinois, in their Peconic shoes.

Bachrodt, 54, of Ocala, describes it as one of his fondest moments of running. Just a mother and son running with the crunch of freshly fallen snow and lighthearted conversation.

His mother's active lifestyle encouraged Bachrodt to run and participate in sports. He played as many as three sports a season growing up. She’d pick him up from one practice, stop at a grocery store for doughnuts, then take him to the next, he recalls.

Recently, Bachrodt ran the Leadville 100 in honor of his mom, Sarah Bachrodt. The race is a 100-mile trail through the Colorado Rockies with elevations between 9,200 and 12,600 feet. More than 700 people have participated in the 39-year-old ultra running event in 2022.

“My mom believed in lifelong fitness. She was the first person I went on a run with when I was 14 years old. She was my biggest fan,” Bachrodt said.

Honoring those he's lost

Craig Bachrodt runs the Leadville Trail 100 in Leadville, Colorado.
Craig Bachrodt runs the Leadville Trail 100 in Leadville, Colorado.

Bachrodt is no stranger to dedicating his time and money to honor lost loved ones.

About five years ago, his partner, Anna Redgate, passed away in Ocala. He kicked off the building campaign at The Cornerstone School where Redgate taught art, with a large donation, giving to the arts, artists, and residency in downtown Ocala, and several other projects in her memory.

After being diagnosed with dementia, Bachrodt's mother lived with him in Ocala for six months before passing. He recorded as many moments with his mother as he could. He missed those moments with Redgate and learned from that experience.

Days before his mother’s passing, Bachrodt was on the phone with his running coach, Jason Koop, a worldwide ultramarathon coach who's helped hundreds of athletes reach their distance goals. Koop insisted he was ready to run a 100-mile race. A little unsure of the suggestion, Bachrodt turned to his mother and asked, “Mom, my coach thinks I should run a 100. What do you think?”

Bachrodt was met with a beaming smile and an emphatic yes. He asked for reassurance, and she doubled down on her answer.

Bachrodt was convinced to take on the challenge. Sadly, his mother would suffer a stroke three days later and wouldn’t recover, passing away within the week.

Run 100 for Moms is created

Craig Bachrodt posing with his medal and award for finish the Leadville 100 race
Craig Bachrodt posing with his medal and award for finish the Leadville 100 race

From that tragedy, Run100forMoms was born. Bachrodt would use the idea to donate to charities he had in mind.

The Leadville 100 race partners with several charities. The Leadville Trail 100 Legacy is an organization that donates $2,000 in scholarship money to every kid that graduates from Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. Lifetime Fitness, the company that owns the Leadville 100 race, has the Lifetime Foundation, an organization aimed at increasing nutrition and movement in schools. Save The Children is another charity associated with the race.

Bachrodt donated to a pair of charities of his own choice as well. Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft-focused nonprofit, with a presence in 70+ countries. The organization empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.

The second is the Go Campaign, created by Scott Fifer, a New York attorney turned Oscar-winning writer. During a trip to an African orphanage, he dedicated his life to serving those in need. The nonprofit helps raise funds and awareness to help orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.

Each charity received a piece of the $200,000 Bachrodt raised — $100,000 came from donations to Run100forMoms and an additional $100,000 a match of his own money.

Taking on a new distance

A glimpse of the sprawling mountains the Leadville 100 cuts through during the race in Colorado.
A glimpse of the sprawling mountains the Leadville 100 cuts through during the race in Colorado.

Leadville was Bachrodt ’s first 100-mile race, but he isn’t new to ultra running, a discipline described as anything longer than a marathon.

“It’s my first long haul. I’ve done 50, 53, and 46.4, So I’ve done some longer runs, but truly, every time I’ve finished one of those, my thought was simple: How can the human body do another 50?"

On Aug. 20, Bachrodt found out; that's when he began the Leadville race. He finished on Aug. 21, 29 hours, 3 minutes, and 42 seconds later.

“When you look at it from the winner’s point of view, 16 hours, well, that’s totally awesome," he said. "The slow people ran for 29 hours. That’s pretty cool, right? So he’s faster. We ran longer. I don’t know which one is the bigger feat."

Bachrodt's love for running won’t stop at the Leadville 100. He plans to run three marathons in three days at Lake Tahoe on Oct. 14-16. Two days later in California, he’ll climb Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous US. He’ll take a brief break before his next race — a 7 in 7 in 7 where racers run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

Support over the miles

Team Bachrodt poses together after Craig's finish at Leadville 100.
Team Bachrodt poses together after Craig's finish at Leadville 100.

Bachrodt made sure to thank Candace Mauck of Smile Train for sticking with him through the process.

She stayed with Craig for nearly 35 hours to support him on a long journey. She was at every aid station and fit in with Team Bachrodt.

“The community is what makes it so special. ... Every time I go into an aid station, you’re rejuvenated," Bachrodt said. "People are hooting and hollering. It’s the closest thing to a professional athlete a regular dude is going to get. It really made it a lot of fun.”

Before the race, Mauck wrote three things on Bachrodt’s left arm. For charity. In honor of Mom. With Anna.

The “With Anna” line had its own significance. Bachrodt spent as much time on trails after Anna Redgate's passing as he could. That’s where he could be with Anna. Where he could communicate with her, spend time with her, and think.

When COVID struck, he ran even more. That’s where the base for ultra running began. He took on his first marathon in 2019.

Ken Chlouber, the founder of the Leadville 100, says that every human has an inexhaustible well of grit, guts, and determination. They’re the three keys to finishing a race like this. Before each race, he has each competitor say the same pledge, “I commit. I won’t quit.”

Those words sank in for Bachrodt before the start. He had his own motivation infused with Chlouber’s words. Bachrodt was running in honor of his mother.

“Thankfully, I never had anything to cause me to think about quitting, but because I jumped around some rocks crossing people at mile 14, my knees were sore from mile 14 until the end," he said.

Bachrodt still feels the wear and tear on his body from the Leadville 100. He has to see a physical therapist to check out an injury he suffered during the race that feels like a sprained ankle.

But his personal investments wouldn’t allow him to walk away from the race. Neither would his mother’s influence.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Ocala's Craig Bachrodt honors late mom with Leadville 100 run for charity