Copperas Cove police officer completes 100-mile ultramarathon, raises money for LEAF
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Captain Jeremy Alber with the Copperas Cove Police Department participated in and completed a 100-mile Ultramarathon earlier this month to raise funds to help fellow officers.
Alber participated in the trek with Texas Department of Public Safety Special Agent Seth Fry and DPS Trooper David Lee.
Alber and Fry had been planning on completing the Texas Water Safari, a 260-mile canoe race from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas, in June 2020 but that was cancelled due to COVID-19. Fry and Lee, and eventually Alber, had planned on participating in the Brazos Bend 100, a 100-mile race, set to take place in December 2020, but this race was cancelled too.
The group had registered for the ultramarathon in September and had begun training in preparation for the 100-mile course. For Alber, this training involved running to and from work (approximately four miles each way) and running a bit longer on the weekends.
The Copperas Cove Police Department started its own Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (LEAF) in October 2020, which is “designed to assist members of CCPD with hardships and joy alike,” according to Alber.
“In the past, when a baby was born to an employee of the department, we chipped money in and gifts were purchased. When someone retired, the party was paid for by employees passing the hat. When a coworker had a death in the family in another state, the donations came in,” Alber said. “The goal of LEAF was to keep from passing the donation bucket every few months and to allow the fund to assist the valued employees of the Police Department. The fund was getting a kickstart by donations from our caring community.”
After discussion with Chief Eddie Wilson and Deputy Chief Brian Wyers, the idea of raising money for LEAF through the race came up. CCPD employees pledged a flat donation or a per-mile donation for the 100-mile race that Alber was going to participate in.
After finding out the race was cancelled in November, the decision of what to do next came about. Many people had already donated money and pledged a per-mile donation, and Alber was not going to be receiving a refund for his entry fee.
Lee ended up pulling out of the race to complete another ultra-marathon and an Ironman Triathlon just weeks before the race was to take place, but Alber and Fry were still stuck figuring out what to do.
“I did not want to let the program down and figured all I needed was a 100-mile route and a good pair of shoes to complete the event rather than have a race to support us,” Alber said.
He and Fry committed to completing the 100-miles themselves Seth, and Lee volunteered to be there for support at any point.
The next step was finding a location. Fry suggested the Goodwater Loop in Georgetown, which is 26-mile-plus loop around Lake Georgetown.
The terrain of the race was rough, Alber said. While the trail was heavily traveled, there were an absurd number of rocks with challenging climbs and descents. Overall, the trail has close to one mile in elevation change in addition to the rocks and uneven trail areas, Alber said.
On December 4, the group met at the loop and placed boxes with supplies such as water, Gatorade, Powerade, snacks, batteries and clothing, at different points.
In the early morning hours of December 5, Fry and Alber began their trek. Alber said the temperature was near freezing but there was no wind.
Chief Wilson’s daughter, Alex, arrived to motivate the duo during the first 10 miles. Alber called her a true motivation.
The first lap went off without a hitch. The middle of the second lap found Alber and Fry entering the night hours and being the only ones on the trail.
“By the end of lap two, pain was beginning to set in from the continuous movement and pounding on our feet and ankles,” Alber said. “Seeing the people at Base Camp became the goal of each lap.”
During lap three, Alber suffered gastrointestinal problems and ended up taking a break for about an hour, while Fry pushed forward with Lee.
With the company of CCPD Sgt. Jacob Smith, Alber caught up with Lee and Fry.
Alber said the final 22 miles were completed on a flatter portion of the trail. He and Fry completed their 100 miles approximately 42 hours after they first started.
Alber said that the event was made possible by the support group made up of his wife, Missy Alber, David Lee, Kevin Miller, Joaquin and Lori Salazar, Jacob Smith, Corey Schmidt, Danielle Schmidt, Travis and Laura Stofferahn, Martin and Lori Ruiz, and Alex Wilson.
“They worked tirelessly through the day and night to ensure Seth and I had no needs that went unmet,” Alber said. “The experience was humbling to see people selflessly serving us and taking care of our every need.”
Alber took time off after the 100-miles to recuperate but shared that he was proud.
“I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment,” Alber said. “I am humbled by the amount of support we received. This would not have been possible if Seth and the rest of the people I mentioned did not do their parts. The pain we experienced brought on thoughts of gratitude for the small things we normally take for granted. The terrain was brutal, and the rocks were everywhere. We tripped and rolled ankles more frequently than I can count. I never realized the terrain would take that much out of my legs and body. I was truly thankful for the smooth areas of just dirt in which to walk. It was like walking on clouds compared to the rocks in the area.”