Rest for the weary? Thompson presses forward in quest

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006.

We should all raise a glass for Sam Thompson. By the end of his insane march to Hurricane Katrina awareness, he will need an ice cold soda or two.

The Vicksburg native is more than two weeks into his cross-country journey that has him running a 26.2 marathon a day in each of the 50 states. For good measure, he added a race in the District of Columbia.

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His journey, which will take him thousands of miles of travel and 1,336.2 of actual running, ends in Bay St. Louis on Aug. 19.

He is trying to raise money for the Gulf Coast, still being rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina decimated much of it.

At each stop, television, radio and newspaper reporters request interviews. His story has been told on national wire services and local TV stations. His quest is as amazing as it is crazy.

But this is a guy who runs 50-milers for fun, ran the entire length of the Appalachian Trail for summer vacation and works tirelessly to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

He has a unique ability to put his body through the most rigorous physical activities only to rise the next morning and do it again.

Today marks his 13th full marathon in as many days. Rest is sporadic if any, usually taking place curled in the back of a van. His eating patterns are spotty at best.

Yet he carries on.

It doesn’t matter that in some places no marathons are scheduled. He uses a portable global positioning satellite to map out the course. Local running clubs and media are usually on hand to certify the results.

His idea seemed crazy from the start, but he is certainly not crazy. Thompson possesses a dedication to helping others that most of us dream about and has channeled that dedication into what he loves doing most – running.

The fact that he is from Vicksburg and attended Warren Central High School should have this entire county bursting with pride.

On Monday afternoon, Thompson spoke as if he were in a haze. The grueling endeavor certainly taking a toll not only on his physical body but his mental toughness as well. He refuses to quit, though. That is what separates Thompson from so many others.

Imagine for a second running 26.2 miles – in a year that would send me over the edge – getting a few hours sleep and running again … and again … and again.

The recovery coordinator for the First Baptist Church in Bay St. Louis will end his nearly two-month odyssey in less than five weeks.

His legs will be gone.

His mind a shell of what it was when he started.

His emotions drained.

He may take a day off, but probably not. There is still work to be done. The Gulf Coast cannot put itself back together.

So, Sam Thompson, or should we say Mr. Thompson, here’s to you.