Local man speed walks 10K to raise money for nonprofit at DeSoto Market

William Wyss crosses a makeshift finish line after he completes the final lap of the DeSoto Speed Walking Challenge on Oct. 8. (Katelyn Finegan/DD)

William Michael Wyss was the kid in his neighborhood who would crack jokes, throw rock concerts in his parents’ backyard and perform in theater productions.

Now, Wyss can add raising money by speed walking to his repertoire of accomplishments.

Wyss speed walked an entire solo 10 kilometers on the second floor of DeSoto Central Market Saturday, but not without taking a few pies to the face first.

Attendees of the event could pay money to make Wyss face certain challenges while speed walking his 10k, such as taking a pie to the face, speed walking an entire lap backward, writing a haiku or chugging an entire can of beer. The majority of the proceeds raised from the event are to go to the A/C Theatre Company, a local nonprofit group specializing in alternative musical productions.

“He always has unique ideas,” said Kristen Burkhart, general manager of A/C Theatre Company, of Wyss. “He has a really good network of people that can make those things happen.”

“This can quite possibly be the greatest sporting event ever,” said attendee Breona Conrad, a local actress who has worked on stage with Wyss.

William Whys, with remnants of a whipped cream pie on his face, speed walks 10 kilometers in the DeSoto Central Market. (Katelyn Finegan/DD)
William Whys, with remnants of a whipped cream pie on his face, speed walks 10 kilometers in the DeSoto Central Market. (Katelyn Finegan/DD)

In the first 10 minutes alone, Wyss ate a sleeve of crackers and then chugged an entire can of beer while speed walking backward. Wyss then performed the “Macarena” dance for five laps.

“I love to speed walk,” Wyss said in an impromptu haiku. “I could speed walk forever.”

Wyss said he came up with the idea for the challenge during his time working as a trivia host at DeSoto, where he joked that someone could run an entire 10K around the second floor of the market. Wyss said he then decided to turn the idea into a fundraising event.

“I talked about it a lot with everybody I could,” said Wyss on his speed walking challenge. “And once I’m going, I can’t do anything but go.”

According to Hannah Wyss, William’s sister, her brother’s speed walking challenge is not out of the ordinary for his personality.

“He’s weird,” Hannah Wyss said. “He’s a goofball. And he’s always doing things to help out with the community.”

Throughout the majority of the 10K, Wyss speed walked without stopping, until he was challenged to eat a habanero pepper. After eating the pepper, Wyss had to go to the restroom to vomit — shortly before returning to the challenge.

After about an hour and 50 minutes, Wyss speed walked through the 189th and final lap of his 10K, covered in pie and sweat.

“Congratulations,” said Louis Farber, one of the hosts of the event, to Wyss. “You look like $10 that went through the wash.”

The speed walking challenge raised $575. Two-thirds of that money will go directly to the A/C Theatre Company, and the remaining one-third will be used to cover the cost of the event. The nonprofit theatre company granted Wyss a trophy for his efforts.

“Anybody want to go to Disneyland?” Wyss said after completing his final lap. “I’m alive and happy I did it. I’m going to go take a bath, nap and change my contacts.”

Correction: October 15, 2016

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling of Wyss’ name. 

Contact the reporter at kgafsi@asu.edu.