This past June local cyclists Tony Restuccia and Chris DeMarchi of Monster Media and Kurt Broadhag of Helen’s teamed-up with Andre Gonzalez of Utah to form the four man Team Innovation Africa to take part in the Race Across America. The race had been on the minds of each for years but trying to carve out time to raise money for the cross country journey while still juggling family, work, and race commitments for their teams seemed to be the major stumbling block. This year the stars aligned and the race was officially on their schedules.
The race across America is a 3020 mile race which starts in Oceanside California and ends in Annapolis Maryland. Individuals and teams must race through 12 states and climb 170,000 total feet. The race was started in 1982 and is considered one of the most respected and longest running endurance sports event in the world. Not only was this challenge a major draw for team i:A but the fact that the race itself served as an amazing platform to raise money and awareness for their charitable cause.
The team had lofty goals going into the race. They wanted to be competitive but having an all- rookie team and crew put them at a severe disadvantage. Logistically, the race is a nightmare trying to figure out who rides when, where to eat, sleep, and shower all while trying to ride fast and juggle team/crew dynamics. As the race began the team took an early lead. Eventually they were challenged by one other team. For the remaining four days they battled trading the lead countless times until, after building a gap with about 200 miles left, went off course for over an hour which eventually gave up the win. Despite losing over three hours from riding off course throughout the race they were able to finish in 5 days 12 hours and 47 minutes.
What is impressive is the fact that the team raised $250,000 for their charity Innovation: Africa, a non-profit that installs solar power in villages throughout Africa. Since their founding in 2008 they have completed over 78 solar and agricultural projects providing schools and medical clinics with solar power to offer evening study, adult education, well-lit nighttime medical care and refrigeration for lifesaving medicines and vaccines. Their solar powered water pumps provide over 20,000 liters of clean water a day, and their drip irrigation systems provide a source of food and income for farmers and their families. Over 662,000 people have been impacted by their projects, and more than 300,000 children have received properly stored vaccinations for the first time stored in their solar powered refrigerators.
2015 brings even loftier goals for Team Innovation Africa. They plan on coming back, shattering the course record, and raising even more money and exposure for their charities…..stay tuned. To watch a short video of their 2014 journey: