WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) A local high school track and cross country coach wanted to honor his athletes, especially the seniors who missed out on their final high school track seasons due to COVID-19.
So, Thursday, on what would've been the last day of school for athletes he coached, DJ Bookout ran 55 miles in his athletes' honor. Bookout is moving on to coach in his hometown of Newton next year after guiding track and cross country athletes at Wichita North High School for the past four years.
Thursday's run took him from his home in Newton to Wichita North's campus and back.
"It just seemed really appropriate to symbolically run to North as a way of reaching out to my North kids, and then on the way back, changing shirts and doing the same thing on the way back to Newton," Bookout says.
Bookout streamed the long workout on Facebook live for his athletes to see. In all, the run took about 11 hours. Every mile, he dedicated to the athletes who lost their 2020 track season, especially the seniors who won't get another chance to run in high school.
"The poor seniors, they were so motivated. I'd never seen them train as hard as they did during the winter season," Bookout says of the final group he coached at North.
One of his fellow coaches from Wichita North joined him on the long run Thursday.
Bookout says he wants every athlete he's coached to know he believes in them and to never give up, even through hard times.
"One step at a time. Something I tell my athletes all the time, big journeys start with the first step," he said during Thursday's run.