Luke Bastian is a senior in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Hey y’all, my name is Luke and I am going to be a senior this year in the Mechanics and Materials track of Course 1! As I’m sure it has been for nearly everyone on the planet, these past few months have been strange and a little bit sucky at times. As college students, not only were we subjected to the stresses of school away from our normal support systems, but we also once again had to grapple with the senseless killings of black human beings at the hands of those tasked with protecting us. For me personally, I felt more hopeless about the whole situation than ever before. I wanted to do something to help, but didn’t necessarily know what would be effective – especially when trying to avoid protests due to concerns for my family’s health.

That’s when my fraternity, Sigma Nu, stepped in to organize a fundraiser for the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation and the National Bail Out Fund (special shout outs to Marvin Zetina ‘23, Jesus Rodriguez ‘23, Charles Coffey ‘22, Ricky Villarreal ‘20, and Ricky Alvarez ‘21). I was excited because it was a tangible good that – while of course not an instant fix for racism – would offer support to people who could markedly improve the world.

Scorecard used by Sigma Nu fraternity at MIT to help raise money for Black Lives Matter

Our fundraiser was centered around challenges and scratch cards. Once a brother filled up their scratch card with donations, they would complete a challenge of their choosing. These challenges ranged from brothers eating spicy foods to dying their hair to doing a pull-up for every dollar donated! I didn’t know what to do for my challenge at first, but when one brother jokingly told another to run a marathon, I was intrigued.

With three half marathons under my belt, I’ve assumed for a while that I would run a marathon at some point in my life, but had planned on waiting until after MIT when I might have more free time. However, as this pandemic has taught us again and again, plans change. I soon posted my scratch card and made it official. Even crazier, I pledged to run the marathon within two weeks – with no specific training :o. Thanks to friends and family (who ended up donating over $600!), not only was that scratch card filled, but so was an additional one that would have my girlfriend Abby McGee ‘20 join me on her bike! So it was decided – I was going to run a marathon.

Now I wasn’t in bad shape – one of the perks of quarantine is that I had been able to find more time to run – but a 9 mile run was the furthest I had gone lately. On the positive side of things, we have been staying in San Diego so we knew we would have some excellent weather on the run. Abby’s neighborhood is quite hilly, but we were able to chart a relatively flat 26.2 mile course with the goal of a 9 minute per mile pace.

Luke Bastion runs alongside girlfriend, Abby McGee on her bike.

On the morning of the marathon, we rolled out of bed at 5:00 am, filled up a Camelbak with water, grabbed some Gatorade gels (pls sponsor us @Gatorade), and hit the road. It was a quiet, beautiful morning. The first 10 miles were relatively smooth sailing – we listened to music and podcasts and chatted while we made a big loop of the neighborhood. After this first loop, we swung by the house and Abby’s little sister joined us for the next 10-mile loop. At mile 18, my knee felt like it was going to give out for a second, but luckily the feeling quickly went away and that was the only close call. After the second loop was finished, we swung by the house again with just 6 miles left. We were getting pretty tired at this point and wanted to stay close to the house, so we decided to run three 2-mile loops along a familiar route. Our fastest mile ended up being mile 23 – we were so ready to be done with the marathon that we were speeding up.

As we turned the final corner onto Abby’s street, we saw her whole family cheering for us with a finish line made out of painter’s tape, ~reused~ trophies & medals, and much needed protein shakes. As we victoriously crossed the finish line, just about a minute under our goal time of 3:56, we felt a great sense of pride about what we had just physically accomplished, but even more so about what this challenge meant in terms of raising money for a great cause. In the end, walking was a bit dicey for a couple days after, but we loved the experience and Sigma Nu ended up raising $10,760. Check out these links if you’re interested in giving: Black Lives Matter and  National Bail Out.