Matt Genovese has completed more than 70 triathlons and a full Iron Man, but this week he tackles a new challenge: public-education funding. Genovese, an area athlete and father, will run upward of 100 miles in 24 hours to raise money and awareness for public education in the Santa Barbara area. Beginning the morning of March 7, Genovese’s route will pass by all 26 public elementary schools in the greater Santa Barbara area, starting at his own kids’ school, Washington Elementary. After finishing this initial loop, Genovese plans to keep running five-mile loops in the La Mesa Park area for as long as he can. His goal is to hit 100 miles or 24 hours, whichever comes first. This is Genovese’s first year organizing this fundraiser. He was motivated after experiencing underfunding in public schools.
“Our public schools are struggling to stay afloat,” said Genovese. He said he believes the money for public education is mismanaged and he has seen the effects of poor funding firsthand with high principal turnover rates, lack of athletic facilities, and understaffing. Genovese said Washington Elementary alone raises more than $400,000 annually through private funding, but he feels this is not enough. “This is my way of trying to help without getting caught up in all the red tape,” he said.
Genovese has been running 80 miles a week for several months to prepare for the event. He has been participating in triathlons and Iron Man events for 15 years. Although he prefers biking and swimming, he picked running for the event because “running is something that anyone in the community can do.”
Via GoFundMe, Genovese has raised almost $4,000. According to Genovese, he has additional per-mile contributions that will be added to this fund after his final mile count. He also has several corporate sponsors providing funding and materials for his run including Rabbit, Mesa Burger, Lighthouse Coffee, Dog Jog, and his own company, Finance of America.
According to Genovese, he has already had some people reach out to him about participating in the event next year. Ideally, he hopes to have representatives from every school take part, even if just for a couple of miles. When it comes to supporting local education, Genovese said, “We can all put on running shoes and join each other and go out.”