Navy grad wants to help — so he's going to run for 24 hours

U.S. Marine, Naval Academy graduate and Bristol resident is planning to run 24 hours for charity

By Scott Pickering
Posted 5/28/20

Like every other college student in America, Nick Williams was home a few weeks ago with not much to do.

Banished from campus and quarantined mostly at home, he and his younger brother George were …

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Navy grad wants to help — so he's going to run for 24 hours

U.S. Marine, Naval Academy graduate and Bristol resident is planning to run 24 hours for charity

Posted

Like every other college student in America, Nick Williams was home a few weeks ago with not much to do.

Banished from campus and quarantined mostly at home, he and his younger brother George were driving in the car one day talking about what they could do to help people during a pandemic that is crippling the American economy and fraying everything once considered “normal.”

“We asked, ‘What can people who are supposed to stay inside all day do to help?’ ” Nick said. George suggested they raise money for something. Nick countered that it would have to be something that catches people’s attention, otherwise no one would notice.

“So George said, ‘What if you run really far?’ and I said, ‘What if I run for 24 hours straight?” Nick said.

So that’s the plan.

Nick Williams is planning to run for 24 hours straight. He’ll start on the morning of June 15.

Of course, Nick Williams is not the average college student. At the time of this brilliant idea, he was a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. On Friday, he graduated with his class during an in-person, socially distant ceremony and was officially commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Nick was also a middle-distance track and field runner for the Midshipmen, competing against Division 1 opponents. His best time in the 800 is 1:51.

The day after George had his great idea for how his brother could punish his body — while raising money for charity — Nick decided to run a marathon. He had never done anything close to that before, but he figured it would be a good test — 26.2 miles later he said, “It was horrible. I went home, ate food and went to bed.”

Nonetheless, he is committed to the 24-hour run and has devoted the effort to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. He set a goal of raising $10,000, and at press time he had 57 donors and nearly $2,700 pledged.

The logistics

The plan is for Nick to set off on the morning of June 15, probably at 10 a.m., from somewhere in Newport. George, who just finished his freshman year at the Naval Academy, will not be running alongside, but he will be Nick’s constant companion.

“Right now, our plan is that I’m going to run for a slowish pace for two and a half hours, then do a 30-minute walking window to eat, use the bathroom, shake out my legs … I won’t be going very fast. The point is to not stop,” Nick said.

How do you ‘go to the bathroom’ without stopping?

“I won’t go number two,” he said, and he’ll have to be creative with the rest of it.

Nick plans to run from Newport to the base of the Mt. Hope Bridge. George will give him a ride over the bridge into his hometown of Bristol, then Nick will continue running along the East Bay Bike Path to Providence. He’s not yet sure what he’ll do when he gets there — maybe turn around and go back the same way, maybe keep going and try to circle the entire state by heading down to Jamestown and back to Newport.

“We’re still hashing out the details,” Nick said.

Nick thinks he can run 100 miles. He will be carrying nothing; George will be his daytime support team for all water, food, salt pills or anything else. Other friends are ready to step in for the overnight shift.

“If we go at a 10:00 to 10:30 pace, 100 is very feasible,” Nick said. “With the marathon, I went out and ran a little faster than 9-minute miles.”

Not much training

Though the 2016 Bishop Hendricken High School graduate is doing some actual physical training, Nick said most of his preparation will be mental. “It’s so last-minute, I can’t really train for it. It’s not like I’m trying to run fast,” he said.

Asked how friends and family are reacting to this quest, and whether it fits within character, he said, “I don’t think anyone is surprised I’m doing this.”

His mother, Elena Williams, said, “Just don’t get hurt.” Ms. Williams has a keen understanding of raising boys. In addition to Nick and George, she has Andrew, 11, and Matthew, 9. Their father, David Williams, who many may remember as the baker and owner of Daily Bread, passed away in 2013.

“Everyone has been super helpful as we plan this,” said Nick. “I have great friends and family.”

Dozens of them have made donations to the food bank or pledged a per-mile contribution to support Nick. It’s one of the motivations that will keep him going for 24 hours straight.

“We’re thinking about who is most disadvantaged right now, the elderly, the 25 percent of people who are on unemployment … We want to do something to help,” Nick said.

Nick has created a page for donations and support.

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