Bookout runs 24 hour race


Bookout crosses the 100 mile marker.

Eris Rindt, Reporter

Running a 24 hour race is seemingly impossible for most but for Social Studies teacher and head cross country coach DJ Bookout this is a dream of the past. The name of this 109 mile race is the Kansas Ultrarunner Society’s 6/12/24 Hour Race. The race was hosted in Wichita on the weekend of Nov. 24-25. The runners could either participate the full 24 hours or do shorter runs such as a six hour race or a 12 hour race. 

Bookout has been training for this specific race nearly everyday for the past two years. After trying to complete the race in 2018 but falling short, Bookout made it a goal to run everyday. Bookout found a different outlook after his failed attempt last November. 

“I run nearly every day, but my journey for this race has been in the makings for at least two years,” Bookout said. “I thought about the last time I had run this race and given up at mile 40 since I was very tired and cold… I had to change my internal narrative about this by literally putting one foot in front of the other in order to accomplish a new state of mind. As a way of breaking this race down into manageable chunks, I had brought a small spiral notebook with each lap number in a square so that every time I crossed I could cross one lap off of it in order to have tangible results each time.”

This is Bookout’s first year as head coach of the Newton High cross country team. Bookout previously coached cross country at Wichita North. Ariel Johnson, one of Bookout’s former Wichita North cross country team members, ran part of the ending of the race with him in order to help him stay motivated. 

“Bookout was my assistant cross country coach my junior year at Wichita North High,” Johnson said. “Bookout has inspired me to continue running at a college level, to have more confidence in my running and be the best runner and person I can be through his continuous motivational comments and pushing his past and present runners to be the best that they can be.”

With 69 participants in the race as a whole, only 29 people were able to successfully finish the 24 hour race. COVID-19 had little effect on the race participants but the number of spectators were limited. Bookout crossed the finish line first, not only winning the race, but also being rewarded with a large decorative belt buckle and a wooden first place trophy. 

There was a limit on how many people could be there and masks were required anytime you had to use the aid station or go inside to use the restroom,” Bookout said. “There are so few races going on right now with COVID-19 that we saw many runners come from out of state which was pretty cool. I could tell people were happy to be there, happy to be doing something for their specific causes. There is something about pushing through something hard in the acquisition of a goal that tends to bring people closer as they march on.” 

Bookout’s racing days will not stop with this accomplishment. He plans on continuing his training for a 200 mile race, while continuing to inspire students along the way. Bookout said that another goal of his, along with fellow staff members, will be to help students along their mental health journeys. 

“My next big goal will be to cover 200 miles in a single span of time,” Bookout said. “I find that given the challenges in my life, I need goals to go for in order to provide more meaning and fulfillment. I find that the personal journey helps me be healthier and be a better person in all of the areas that I am called to. I hope that students and staff can take brave first steps in taking care of themselves in the way that they need to this year. Please take the most important first step in your mental marathon by sharing your struggles, you are not alone!”