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Legendary Bitcoin pioneer and activist inspires runners around the world to defeat ALS in second annual Running Bitcoin Challenge

Hal and Fran Finney, 09/05/2009, at finish of Disney half Marathon

For the second year in a row, Bitcoin enthusiasts, athletes of all abilities, and supporters of the ALS/MND community around the world joined forces with the Golden West Chapter of The ALS Association to raise funds for effective treatments and cures for ALS in memory of the beloved, self-described “cypherpunk,” Harold ‘Hal’ Finney. 

Finney, a former video game developer, became the first employee hired to work for Phil Zimmerman’s crypto-privacy company, the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) Corporation. A bonafide cryptographic activist, Finney was also one of the earliest Bitcoin (BTC) supporters when Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, was floating the idea on a cryptography mailing list in early 2009.

Prior to the blockchain’s global success, Finney tweeted “Running bitcoin” on January 10, 2009, from his Twitter account @halfin, and two days later, he received the very first Bitcoin transaction for 10 BTC from Satoshi in block 170. Some have even speculated that Finney was not only the first Bitcoin user, but involved in its very creation, as pointed out by Forbes when interviewing Finney about his involvement. 

The now historic tweet has amassed more than 68,000 Likes, 22,000 retweets, and over 7,570 quote tweets, along with a reverent community of those who pay tribute to Finney for his legendarily sound foresight. Finney wholeheartedly believed that blockchain technology could solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

In addition to being a crypto fanatic, Finney was a passionate runner. “Hal would plan his daily runs a month in advance,” his wife, Fran, recalls. “He made sure to take the opportunity to run on every trip he took, even business trips. Running was part of Hal’s life. His daily distances ranged from 7 to 26 miles, but his favorite race distance was the half marathon.”

In August 2009, just months following his prophetic Bitcoin tweet, Hal Finney was diagnosed with ALS. He registered for services with the Golden West Chapter of The ALS Association and was an active member of the community, raising awareness and support through its network while continuing to express himself with his cherished cyber crowd.

In the years that Hal lived with ALS, he and Fran – a licensed physical therapist who became his caregiver –  worked tirelessly together to make an impact on the support available for those facing the disease by raising funds and awareness. Through the Golden West Chapter’s community outreach events like the Walk to Defeat ALS and Ride to Defeat ALS programs, Hal and Fran raised over $25,000 with their team, “Hal’s Pals.”

After valiantly fighting ALS for more than five years, Hal passed away in August 2014. He remains a legendary figure in both the crypto community and the ALS community.

The “Running Bitcoin Challenge” was created as a call to action to keep Hal Finney’s legacy running. Launched by Hal’s wife, Fran, ‘Running Bitcoin’ debuted in 2021 as a way to pay homage to Hal and to support others impacted by the devastating neurodegenerative disease.

The Challenge calls on a global, tight-knit community that values the importance of bitcoin, fitness, and raising funds and awareness to participate by running, walking or hiking Hal’s favorite distance, a half-marathon, over the span of ten days. The event begins on January 1 and concludes on January 10 – the anniversary of Hal’s famed tweet.

In its first year, Running Bitcoin raised over $40,000 USD – of which $6,045 was directly from Bitcoin with 0.26 BTC in donations. There was such enthusiastic support, donors and participants requested that the Challenge be extended to raise more money. The Golden West Chapter obliged and donations rolled in throughout the entire month of January 2022. 

In November, 2022, Swan Bitcoin invited the Golden West Chapter to promote the Challenge at its inaugural Pacific Bitcoin Conference. Running Bitcoin Challenge’s international committee members and @halfin followers from all over the world rallied behind the event for its follow up year. As noted by Bitcoin.com as well as Decrypt ’s article “Hal Finney’s Twitter Account Just Came Back to Life,” Fran took to Twitter using Hal’s account, as well as the ‘Running Bitcoin’ event account @RunningBTC21k to make announcements to Hal’s dedicated followers. 

This virtual, self-reporting, “do-it-yourself” activity relies on the power of social media and is intended to build awareness, community, and funds, and is not limited to running. Participants were encouraged to go the distance in any way they can and to share their progress on Strava, twitter, or other social media outlets. Donations are accepted in USD and worldwide in BTC. The funds raised go to the mission of the Golden West Chapter that served Hal Finney.

The worldwide event’s momentum was picked up by notable outlets, including Bitcoinist, Blockworks, Coingeek, Cointelegraph, FinancialExpress, and LiteBit, among others.  Committee members from Vancouver, England, Austria rallied the support of their own running groups such as the Bitcoin Runners and Team Satoshi.  

The second installment of the Bitcoin Challenge during January 1 – 10, 2023 has seen even greater success, raising over $65,204.36 and 0.96 BTC ($22,571 from Bitcoin). This year’s Running Bitcoin included an online auction,  powered by Scarce City and benefiting the Chapter with thousands more in USD and BTC.Items can be seen pictured on the Twitter account.

The Golden West Chapter is grateful to Fran Finney for her leadership and for sharing her story and time to benefit the ALS community worldwide.  Running Bitcoin is proof that Hal’s legacy and Fran’s passion have reignited another movement that is blazing trails. The Running Bitcoin Challenge will remain open throughout March 2023, and those looking to get involved can join at runningbitcoin.us. There is no better time to hit the ground running (bitcoin, that is)! 

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