My Run: Terry Hitchcock and the Faith to Endure
Get to know the man who set out on the impossible journey of running 75 marathons in 75 days and the movie about his courageous spirit.
At 57 years old, Terry Hitchcock wasn’t what you’d call athletic. No one thought that his heart and joints could take endurance-testing activities. However, in 1996, he embarked on an adventure to run 75 marathons in 75 consecutive days. He got the idea from a Canadian man who lost his leg to cancer and did something extraordinary in 1980.
“He made a promise,” Terry tells Beliefnet. “He said, ‘If I ever get out of the hospital, I’m going to do something to give back,’ and his idea was to raise money [for] cancer research. He came up with the idea of running across Canada.”
That man, Terry Fox, ran more than 3,000 miles. Although Fox’s cancer spread and eventually took his life, he was an inspiration to millions, including Hitchcock.
“I kept thinking that someday maybe I can make a difference,” Terry says.
Years later, Terry was a family man with a wonderful wife named Sue. They had the classic American dream until a diagnosis of breast cancer shattered that dream. When Sue died, Terry was thrust into single parenthood – cooking, clothing and caring for his three young kids. Times were tough, and Terry’s eyes were opened to the plight of single parents. He had to do something.
“I knew that the Olympics were going to be held in Atlanta and two of my three children were born there,” he explains. “The Olympics represent going beyond and doing the impossible. I thought, ‘Well maybe what I could do is run toward Atlanta and maybe do the equivalent of at least a marathon a day. I think I’ll run to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.’ Since I’m a dreamer, I could tell the story of what I’m doing and help raise awareness for single parents and their children.”
Terry was a weekend runner at best, getting in a few miles on Saturday. At his age, the thought of running 26.2 miles every day for more than two months was not only seemingly implausible… it was downright dangerous.
“No runner that I ever met said that I could do this,” Terry says. “They would say it was humanly impossible. Every doctor said, ‘You just can’t do this,’ because while I was training, I had a heart attack halfway through. My cardiologist said, ‘Don’t do this. You won’t live to tell your story.’ So all those things were against me, but I just felt with my own faith that this was something I should do – that when I completed it, it’s a story for the ages.’”
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