SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A group of local volunteers is putting their love of running to the ultimate test. They are taking part in a four-day relay run across the state of South Dakota.

It’s called the 437 project, a group of 12 runners will cover 437 miles while running from Belle Fourche to Sioux Falls on September 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th.

“So it will be relay style,” Kelly Marshall, 437 Project Runner, said.

“We will always have a runner running,” Greg Koch, 437 Project Founder, said.

“So every one of us will be running ten miles at a time, a total of about 40 miles per runner,” Marshall said.

“Through the night into the morning, all weather conditions we’re prepared to do it all,” Koch said.

“We will continuously run from Thursday morning until we get back to Sioux Falls on Sunday morning,” Marshall said.

Marshall, Koch, and ten other runners will take on the challenge. Those in the group all have three things in common, a love of running, concern for those facing mental health challenges, and the ability to do something about it.

“Mental health became a much bigger issue during COVID, and interestingly enough, there have been several of us who signed on for the project and since that time have had a personal impact of death by suicide, and it’s become much more meaningful than we ever could have even imagined,” Marshall said.

The idea for the 437 project came from Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, a runner himself.

“In my role as mayor, I’m exposed to things that maybe the general public doesn’t see or doesn’t know about and just starting to see what a challenge this topic is statewide,” TenHaken said. “And so a run across the state through communities through farmland, ranches that are all affected by issues of mental and behavioral health challenges made a lot of sense, and that’s how it was born.”

The Mayor recruited runners including Greg Koch, who owns 605 running company.

“The chance to experience our whole state is pretty amazing, and that’s why we got involved with the helpline center because the Helpline covers the whole state,” Koch said.

Benson Langat is a clinical therapist and says people from all walks of life face mental health challenges.

“So many people are struggling, and you don’t know who it is. Sometimes you may shake somebody’s hand, and you may not know what they are struggling with. So this cause really hits home for me in terms of my passion and what I do,” Langat said.

The mayor says the helpline center needs help more than ever because last month they started answering the 988 crisis calls.

“So that means the helpline center is seeing more call volume, more training, more resources that they are having to dedicate because of that work, so our funds will help them in their mission to help people in South Dakota that are dealing with mental health challenges and suicidal tendencies,” TenHaken said.

The route will take the runners through towns like Sturgis, Hayes, Pierre, Wessington Springs, Mitchell, and Hartford.