Runners are a strange breed. If you're a runner, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're not a runner, you still probably know what I'm talking about.

Clad in tights and neon colors, these runners plod away at all hours, regardless of the weather. Later, they pop up on social media, talking about how awesome that hour in the dark/snow/wind/humidity was.

I know how crazy runners appear — I wasn't always a runner myself. But I also know how amazing they are. I'm especially impressed when I learn about everyday runners who aren't just slogging through the elements, but taking their running to the extreme to raise awareness for a cause.

Meet seven runners who are using their love of running to help others.

Rob Jones, Month of Marathons

Last fall, military veteran Rob Jones took on the task of running 31 marathons in 31 days in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. to raise funds for wounded veterans. Jones,a double amputee, started his journey on Oct. 12, 2017. For the next 31 days he woke up in a new city each day, ran a marathon, then traveled to the next town. His journey began in London and continued on to Philadelphia, Houston, San Diego, Denver, Chicago and Boston before culminating in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day.

Along the way, Jones met runners of all ages and abilities who accompanied him on his route. He ran with civilians and fellow veterans and was able to raise money towards his goal of donating $1 million to wounded veteran charities; he also raised awareness about the millions of veterans who are struggling physically, emotionally and/or financially each day. "I intend to show veterans through the amount of support that I personally receive throughout this challenge that America loves her veterans, and the American people love their veterans, and want to help and support them, Jones said on his website, Rob Jones Journey. "I mean to show my fellow veterans that they are not alone, and only need ask in order to receive all of the support that they need."

Jones, who was wounded by a land mine during his second deployment with the Marines in Afghanistan, told MNN that the hardest part of this challenge was dealing with a three-day heat wave in Texas. "Heat/humidity really take a lot of energy out of me, so it was tough to overcome after having already run so many marathons," said Jones. "Luckily, I had many supporters there to help me get through it."

Despite that challenge, Jones completed his run as planned in Washington, D.C., and raised more than $200,000 for wounded veterans. For his next challenge, Jones will complete the Tunnel to Towers Climb, an event that celebrates the life and sacrifice of New York firefighter Captain Billy Burke, who died in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. For the event, participants bypass the elevators and run up the 2,226 stairs that lead to the top of the New York's One World Trade Center building. Click here to donate in Jones' name toward that goal, and check out his website to follow his journey.

Richard Nares, Richard's Heart & Sole Run for Emilio

In 1998, Richard Nares' then 3-year-old son, Emilio, was diagnosed with leukemia. While he was undergoing treatment in Boston, the young boy saw the Boston Marathon runners training just outside his hospital room. Richard made a promise that if Emilio could be strong in his fight, Richard would find the strength to run the Boston Marathon. Emilio was very strong indeed, but despite enduring intensive chemotherapy and transplants, he lost his battle with cancer just shy of his sixth birthday.

Richard kept his promise to Emilio and has since run the marathon three times. And he didn't stop there. In 2003, Richard and his wife Diane launched the Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF) to support children who are battling cancer. The foundation's mission is simple — to provide free transportation for underprivileged children and their parents to and from the hospital for cancer-related appointments.

In 2013, Richard ran 700 miles across California and raised more than $200,000 to support ENF’s programs. This year, he plans to take on an even more ambitious challenge by running 1,500 miles from Seattle to San Diego with stops at nine children’s hospitals along the way. With this run, Nares is hoping to raise enough awareness and funds for ENF that the foundation will be able to offer "Ride with Emilio" services along the entire West Coast.

Nares will embark upon his journey on June 4 in Seattle; he hopes to complete it on Aug. 18 in San Diego. To donate or learn more about Richard and how he runs to support the organization he founded in his son's name, visit this Crowdrise page.

Alison Kangas, Katrina Sharp, Briana Rotter, Katie Olson and Ashley Strausser, 30for30 Run

Last fall, I participated in a 12-person relay race through the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Ragnar Adirondack was an amazing and exhausting experience and when I came home, I collapsed on my couch for a week. But two of my Ragnar teammates, Alison Kangas and Katrina Sharp, used their post-race recovery time to initiate a journey that will raise awareness and funds for the nonprofit, Charity: Water.

It was on their way home from the race that Kangas and Sharp heard a podcast that introduced them to Charity: Water, a nonprofit that brings clean water to people in need. When the pair learned 63 million people around the world don't have access to clean drinking water, they were moved to take action. "We were listening to story after story of moms and what they have to do for their children, walking four to six hours a day just to get clean drinking water and our hearts were definitely moved," mom-of-two Sharp told her local news affiliate.

So Kangas and Sharp, who have never run more than 13.1 miles at a time, partnered up with three more running moms — Briana Rotter, Katie Olson and Ashley Strausser — to launch the 30for30run with the hopes of raising $10,000 to provide clean drinking water to developing nations.

On April 15, Kangas and Sharp will both run 30 miles on Highway 30 from Rainier High School to Scappoose High School, in Oregon. Rotter, Olson and Strausser will each run 10 miles, relay-style, to support the team. The runners are asking for donations in any amount, while noting that every $30 donation can provide one person with access to clean water.

For Kangas, the biggest challenge in taking on such a physically demanding goal has been learning how to reach new limits while knowing when to back off and rest. "There is an art to achieving that balance," Kangas told MNN. Another challenge the team faced was finding the extra time they would need not just for running but for fundraising. "I knew that the training to run would be a HUGE time commitment that I worked to clear space in my schedule to allow time for but I really underestimated the time for fundraising," Kangas said. "The last month the 30for30run has felt like a part-time job. Of course, it is a job that I am happy to do, but still time consuming nonetheless!"

Kangas and Sharp recently completed their first 26.2 training run in preparation for their goal. Thanks to the support they have received, their team is feeling optimistic about reaching their goals. When I asked Kangas for one word she might use to describe her upcoming run she said, "Achievable! Both the 30-mile distance and the $10,000 goal."

Check out the 30for30run website to follow the journey of these running moms and donate toward their goal of ending the global water crisis in our lifetime.

Meet 7 regular people running great distances to support a cause
These runners are using their sport to change the world.