Marathons, triathlons, bike racing, seems everyone’s a competitor these days. Funny thing happens when you start pushing your physical limits—you expand. That growth goes beyond the physical to include your mindset and your worldview, making endurance racers one of the most rapidly growing segments of charitable contributors in the U.S., leveraging their events to fundraise for their favorite causes.

This trend inspired the folks at the San Francisco Marathon to develop a groundbreaking fundraising web platform, called Worth the Hurt. Athletes use the platform to create their own custom charity campaign, whether it’s running across the country to raise money for multiple sclerosis, climbing the highest peaks on the planet to advocate for clean water or trekking to the South Pole for the blind.

At press time, Worth the Hurt was in beta testing, with 64 open slots for athletes to test it out as a fundraising platform for the 52.4-mile San Francisco Ultra, a back-to-back running of the marathon course on July 29. The final version will enable athletes to choose any challenge and any charity, and even get reimbursed for their race expenses and training based on how much they raise. Learn more at worththehurt.net.

—Jayme Moye

“From above, it looks like a wasteland, but we know it’s a beautiful place. The desert is the yin to the yang of the mountains. These canyons are intimate places that are the crevasses of the desert … the storm sewers of the desert that open up into cathedrals of light.”

—Aron Ralston, speaking in behalf of a Greater Canyonlands National Monument at the Conservation Alliance Breakfast at Outdoor Retailer (go suwa.org for more info)