WASHINGTON -- Frank Fumich couldn't sleep the night of April 15. The horror of the Boston Marathon bombings was keeping him awake. The next morning, he decided to run three marathons. In a row.
The tragedy in Boston hit close to home for the ultramarathon runner, who has 3-year-old twins. "They come to my race finishes," he told The Huffington Post. "When I saw the photo of the little boy" -- 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest to die in the bombings -- "it blew me away."
Fumich set out to raise money for the Richard family, whose mother and daughter were also seriously injured. He asked people to donate to a FirstGiving page. In return, he would run a tremendous distance: 78.6 miles, all in one day.
An Arlington, Va., resident and owner of a small airline catering company, Fumich is used to running punishing distances. The Washington Post profiled the athlete about his accomplishments in 2011. At the time of that interview, he was on hour 37 of the Virginia Triple Iron Triathlon. He runs, on average, two marathons a month.
But this time he knew his usual impressive feats of strength would not be enough.
"I thought if I ran three, that would be really tough and inspire everyone else to go out and do it and raise money for these folks," Fumich said.
As was first reported by The Washington Post, Fumich accomplished the three marathons by running a 6.55-mile lap along Northern Virginia's Mount Vernon Trail 12 times. He began on Saturday, April 20, at 2:50 p.m., the time the first bomb went off in Boston.
And he didn't run alone. After learning about the plan on Facebook, people became inspired to attempt their own fundraising marathons, which they set up through Fumich's FirstGiving page.
"We had people in 11 countries, I've already lost count of the number of people that did it in the states, and we still have people doing it this upcoming weekend," he said.
Some of the people who joined Fumich in Virginia were Eric Rohnacher of Richmond, Va., for 26.2 miles, Todd Jubeck of Leonardtown, Md., for 52.4 miles and Bryan Selm of Collingswood, N.J., for the entire 78.6 miles. Selm's girlfriend, Leslie Wallace, who had never run more than 13 miles at a time before, ended up running 20 miles. Fumich's runner friend from Florida, Matt Nelson, who maintains the FirstGiving page, also ran 52.4 miles last weekend.
Fumich set out to raise $26,200 for Martin Richard's family. As of Thursday, more than $42,000 had been donated; the extra money will be given to the family of Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the Boston bombings.
"I train for these ultraraces and get a medal at the end, and it sort of diminishes all those races. I didn't get anything for this, and it means so much more," said Fumich.
Fumich is back on the road. He ran the same 6.55-mile lap on Wednesday, telling HuffPost, "I had an enjoyable run."
Information on Fumich's fundraising and other runs that he has inspired in the U.S. and around the world can be viewed on the FirstGiving page. People can still donate through his site.