Gordon Clemmons knows that running over mountains is nothing compared to the challenges faced by cancer patients.
This explains Clemmons humility when talking about his upcoming 414-mile run spanning 30 days, from Levine Childrens Hospital in Charlotte, over the Appalachian Mountains, to the Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. The run, averaging about 30 miles a day, is scheduled for Oct. 4-18.
Its just my small attempt to make an impact against cancer, says the 37-year-old Matthews resident, wholl pay for his expenses. But mostly its a way to get attention so more will donate to Alexs Lemonade Stand Foundation, which has funded more than 275 research projects.
Clemmons chose Alexs over many other cancer fundraising organizations because it focuses on children, and what I really love about them is that they directly fund research projects. They fund doctors, research scientists and nurses who are on the ground actually really getting usable results.
Most everyone has had a family member or known someone affected by cancer. When Clemmons was a teenager, his best friend and roommate died of a brain condition connected to cancer.
I was young, and I really didnt know how to cope with that, so I probably wasnt there for him the way I should have been. So part of it is a little bit of a penance, Clemmons said.
Clemmons running background helped make this effort a natural choice for him.
I grew up in Indian Trail, and before I had a car, all my friends lived miles and miles away, and the only way I could get to their house was to run there.
I ended up becoming a computer programmer, which made me very sedentary. So several years ago I started doing some really long hikes. Eventually I decided I really wanted to get there faster, so I started running again.
Clemmons now runs five days a week.
Still, hes unsure how prepared he is to run through mountainous areas. His wife, Lorissa, and many friends have offered to join him either on bikes or running at various junctures.
My wife will be driving ahead, says Clemmons, who also plans to visit the Mission Childrens Hospital in Asheville and the East Tennessee Childrens Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn., along the way.
Shell stay near me in the SUV and keep me fed, hydrated, and (reasonably) sane.
He says he plans to divide each days 30 miles into three 8-mile legs for seven to eight hours a day.
On some of the steepest grades in the mountains, I may have to walk, but Ill get there by my two feet one way or another.
There will also be one or two un-runnable pieces. For instance, on the first day theres a bridge I have to cross that has zero pedestrian space, so Ill get a ride across this. Its only about 500 feet, so in the grand, 414-mile scheme of things, I dont think thats cheating.
Lorissa Clemmons, who has friends battling cancer, admits shes definitely worried about the toll this will take on him.
Hes working hard to train, both physically and mentally, and I know that once he sets his mind to something, he will always complete it.
But it is a very challenging endeavor hes undertaking. He doesnt do things small.
Reid Creager is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Reid? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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