Robert Gilcrest

After getting involved in running as a way of obtaining sobriety, health, and freedom, Robert Gilcrest is now applying his hobby towards expanding Miles for Miguel, an organization inspired by a seventeen year old boy named Miguel Garcia who is battling a rare skin disease. Robert was inspired by Miguel’s poem “The Prisoner” and now works to earn funding and spread awareness of those dealing with limitations due to physical disabilities and illness. On October 28, 2007, Robert completed 64 miles of the Javalina Jundred Ultra Marathon in Arizona to promote and support Miles for Miguel,plans on running many more events to spread this cause.

Occupation: Custom Home Build Contractor

Resident of Santa Barbara since: I’ve been living here since I was five, but my parents grew up here so I consider myself a lifetime Santa Barbara local

Favorite local restaurant: Sushi Terri and Brophy’s

Favorite music to run to/workout to: When I work out I like to listen to Tony Robbins, Angelique Kidju or some transcendence type of music, but usually when  I run I just go into a zone that is very internal, not hearing much around me

 Where I see yourself in ten years: Still in Santa Barbara with my family, sharing a residence between here and another state. I also see myself still doing a lot of big runs. My goal by 2012 is to run the length of Baja California in 30 days. I’ve also gotten together with Luis Escobar who works with the Santa Barbara Nine Trails Race. My goal is to help create the first ever Santa Barbara Back Country Endurance Run and 100 Mile Ultra Marathon in Santa Barbara. I feel as though where we live is the true endurance running capital of the world, so I hope we get about four endurance runs in our community in the next five years. The idea behind all this is to raise money for Back Country Programs, so I hope to raise awareness with a documentary about this issue, with the help of Brooks film students and the UCSB Biology department.

How running became my hobby and source of recovery: I love that I can run anytime, anywhere. There’s no equipment required, it’s just me and the trail, and I get much more gratification from that. Before I became sober two years ago, I hiked a lot and was inspired to run trails. Once I got into it, I was hooked! I feel isolated from everyday life, but I’m still in an ever-changing and beautiful environment.

Why Miguel’s poem is so inspiring: I have had selfish periods of my life, and Miguel’s plight and recovery pulled me away from a self-centered lifestyle. As a parent and husband, I know I need to take care of my family, and I know that many people are afflicted with circumstances that we take for granted, like taking a shower or making a sandwich. Miguel opened me up to what sobriety really means for me, which is appreciating your health and mobility. I met Miguel after reading his poem, and now he hangs out my kids from time to time. We’ve been planning out ideas for future events and sponsorship.

The hardest part of the Javalina Jundred  Ultra Marathon? After leaving the aid station at Mile 55, I was emotionally and physically drained. My feet felt trashed, I could feel my toenails wanting to fall off, and each mile seemed to drag on and on. I realized at that point that it was okay to drop out of the race before the 100th mile. A good race is not just about how fast you can run, but knowing when to pull out before really damaging yourself. Running ultras for me is about self
preservation and personal growth, not just getting the best time possible.

What was the best/most rewarding part of the run? When I was leaving the mile ten aid station, the top runners had already turned around and were coming back towards me. As they passed me, they gave me some encouragement and told me to keep it up and keep going. It was very motivating because despite our different speeds or reasons for participating, we were all in the same race reaching for the same goal. There’s no money for the winners of this race, it’s done for the purpose of self-fulfillment and the opportunity to seek personal growth and well being. I got an amazing sense of camaraderie from these other runners from this.

What is the message that you are trying to convey to your community through your races? We need to be grateful for our opportunities, as well as aware of our limitations. We are able to drive to the park, go for a run, jump in the ocean, but what many people don’t realize is that there are people like Miguel who can’t do all these things that we often take for granted.

How would you like to see the fitness community of Santa Barbara evolve over the next ten years? There is a lot of self-entitlement in the community, which is easy to get caught up in, and I would love to see people find more time to help those that are less advantaged. I encourage everyone to get physically involved, and share the sprit of mobility. Anyone can write a check to an organization, which is very gracious, but not enough to be involved. It is incredibly rewarding to take time out and show others some recognition.

Please visit www.100milesformiguel.org/images/Miguel.pdf to read more on Miguel’s story, or contact Robert at robert@rgbuilder.net

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