“I like challenge. I like high-intensity,” says Daniel Dykes ’09, who once tried to run from Greensboro to Charlotte because “I just had something to get off my chest.”
For most, a much shorter run would have done the trick. But Daniel takes his running very seriously because over the past few years, it has been the glue that helped him keep everything – school, work, relationships, mentoring – together.
His greatest inspiration is seeing how far he can push himself.
Perhaps that is how, while working toward a degree in philosophy, he also dedicated himself to a full-time job (sometimes fitting two work-weeks into one), mentored a high school senior, collaborated with a Junior Achievement volunteer, traveled to more than 25 cities from Los Angeles to Paris and competed in more than a dozen long-distance races.
“Traveling and running are two great passions. One lets me explore the other.”
Why drive when you can run?
While he’s participated in the occasional 10k or half-marathon, Daniel prefers the longest-possible distances. He prepared by traveling between two major cities on foot in order to get to work. “I got 55 miles into it, three or four of which I walked, but I ended up having to bike the remaining 40 miles to Charlotte because of my knee. Navigating the NASCAR race traffic on my bike was interesting.”
UNCG was the right place. Now I want to see more of the world.
His running experiences are something you might read about on a blog. After the Chicago Marathon, he spent two hours in a medical clinic. In the snowy Ocean City Marathon, he fell ill, but registered for another run a few days later in Toledo to improve his performance – making sure he was still able to get back on campus in time to submit a research paper. Just after finishing 10th in Raleigh’s Umstead Trail Race, he boarded a plane and spent his spring break in London and Paris. Prior to participating in an ultra-marathon (“ultras” are races with distances up to 30, 50, 100, even 1,000 miles), Daniel and a friend got their pre-race rest by sleeping on picnic tables because “sleeping in cars wasn’t practical.”
Seeing the world – on foot
Daniel has exciting travels and goals set for the future. “UNCG was the right place. Now I want to see more of the world.” After graduating in August, he moved to Los Angeles. In October, Daniel heads to Egypt for six weeks. There, he will participate in another ultra-marathon, make stops in Alexandria and Jerusalem, scuba-dive in the Red Sea, and plan the rest of his travels for the year.
“Other running events interest me in Tokyo and Western Europe as well. I’ve also considered biking cross-country. I am treating this year as an opportunity to pursue these adventures before I turn to graduate school and my career.”
For an alumnus whose interests span big business, law, film-making, psychology and philosophy, what might that career be? “I am definitely interested in law school,” he says. “I have decided to attend business school first and then gain acceptance into a good JD/MBA program.”
No doubt, Daniel is just at the starting line.
Photography by Chris English, University Relations