Real Time Web Analytics

Clicky

Run 4 Sobriety – Across America in 100 days

By John Edwards, Special to ASSIST News Service

USA
 (ANS) – Tom Fitzsimons came to see me in a Starbucks café attached to the church I attend in Bradford, England. He had phoned me a couple of days earlier and explained to me he wanted to run across the United States of America to promote sobriety and he said he wanted my advice.

Tom at the start of his marathon run with the Pacific Ocean in the background

I must admit my first thoughts were, “He has no idea what he is in for.” You see, I too am a former addict and alcoholic, and I attempted to run across American in the year 2000, but failed on my first effort.

The scorching sun; blisters, sickness and long lonely roads, conquered me on that occasion. I had to give up when I reached Flagstaff, near the Grand Canyon, and I returned in 2005 with a better plan, a team of helpers and, at last, we completed the epic journey.

This time, however, we cycled across desert areas and that made it easier. I am a slim, light-weight guy, and Tom is a big guy, not your typical runner type, I must admit that I didn’t fancy his chances of completing the trip and I advised him to rethink, and maybe break it into two separate journeys, going home in the middle to his wife Zoe and four kids, and then coming back at a later date to finish it off.

But Tom would not listen to my so-called wisdom, and he insisted that he would run it the way he had planned, and he would complete it. When I heard this, I believed it would take a miracle for him to do it.

It takes God to help you on journeys like Tom’s.

Logo

I felt extremely sick during my second trip across the USA, and when I returned I visited my doctor, only to discover I had completed the journey with three cancerous tumors on my liver. I had to have a liver transplant shortly after completing the journey, and I am glad to report that, thank God, I am fit and well. It is people like Tom and Zoe Fitzsimons who have taken up the banner to continue bringing the message of freedom to those held captive by addiction.

And now, it looks like I was wrong. Tom Fitzsimons is a miracle runner who definitely has God on his side. I am thrilled by Tom’s progress. It is exciting to follow him on his journey and I feel every step with him and cheer him on in prayer. It is a great thing he is doing, as people are dying from addiction to drink and drugs, but this man is bringing a message of hope and life to many. The truth is that, by all accounts, Tom should be dead now; addiction to alcohol, heart problems and other major difficulties tried to take Tom out on many occasions.

Yet, right now Tom is successfully bidding to become one of the few to have ever run across the United States of America.

Tom pictured at the start of his marathon run by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Tom started his “run4sobriety” in San Francisco on May 20th and aims to finish in New York 100 days later on August 27th, the anniversary of his sixth year of sobriety.

So far Tom has run through California, Nevada, and is now in Utah, having completed 800 miles in all so far. He has battled temperatures of up to and over 40c (104f), has had to deal with horrendous blisters, sickness, vomiting, loneliness, deserts, 7-8,000 foot mountains and to top it all he, and his small team, are sleeping many nights in a tent, washing facilities are nonexistent, food is eaten on the run, so you can imagine the strong temptation to give up, also he is desperately missing his wife and four children back home in England.

But still, Tom has battled on through all of these problems. He is not a quitter and this Irishman is showing the true spirit of the fighting Irish; he just doesn’t know how to quit. Now against all the odds he has at last found his stride; long distance runners will tell you there is a line you cross in fitness and attitude after you have run over a marathon a day for three or four weeks. I found that reality on my long runs, one time doing 36 marathons over a 42 day period, one day running and walking 54 miles. I now believe Tom has found this place, and I believe he will finish this epic journey.

High up on the Sacramento Pass in Nevada

Tom, this ex-construction worker, who regularly drank 60 units of alcohol a day (15 times the UK’s safe-drinking limits), is aiming to complete the 33-mile ultra-marathon a day, as he seeks to cross 3,100 miles of America.

When Tom completes it, he will become one of less than a hundred people worldwide who have ever completed this feat, made all the more remarkable as he has long-QT syndrome, a rare heart condition, and will be running every mile with damaged cartilage in his knee.

Tom is now also a personal trainer and inspirational speaker who gives lectures on addiction to audiences across the UK.

Tom in the Sahara Desert during the Marathon des Sables

He comments: “If I can overcome the pain and fear of addiction, I know I can make it across America by foot and show that anything is possible. I’m just an ordinary guy, but I have an extraordinary God helping me. I have no pedigree in running. Just six years ago I took my first steps in the sport as a 19-stone [266 pounds] man running at night to avoid embarrassment. Now I’ve tackled multiple marathons, including the Marathon des Sables [Marathon of the Sands, through the Saharan desert in southern Morocco], which some people say is the toughest footrace on earth.”

This present epic journey, dubbed the “Run4Sobriety”, will take in a dozen US states. Tom will run across the Rocky Mountains, and spend more than 26 days running at an average of 6000 feet above sea-level, equivalent to the height of the Alps. Tom also chose to run the route along Highway 50, known as the “loneliest road in America,” and he completed this section last week.

“I’ve run the loneliest road to make recovery from addiction a bit less bleak for many people,” he says.

“Run 4 Sobriety” is not a charity endeavor. Tom is not raising money, and his message is simple: “I’ll run across America to get the message across that human beings are capable of the most extraordinary things. My addiction to alcohol doesn’t make me less normal than anyone else.

“The run replicates the huge struggle that an addict faces when they first start a journey of recovery. The difference is that I know the run will come to an end, while living with the illness of addiction is for a lifetime.”

What he is showing is that a descent into addiction can be overcome with the power of running, and a deep dependence on God to see him through.

Tom told me that he started drinking at the age of 13, following the death of his father, himself a drug addict. At his worst, he was drinking up to 20 pints and a half-bottle of whiskey a night. His addiction cost him two relationships, four jobs and £20,000 (about $31,278.05 USD) in life-savings.

After losing a job, Tom made the first cry for help, but was told he would have to wait for an appointment to help him get sober. He never forgot that crushing disappointment. “I walked straight out of the rehab place and into the nearest pub. I got smashed,” he recalled.

Tom says: “My life was the pub. The pub was my lover. At times I loved it more than I loved my partner Zoe. I lied, cheated and stole to get to the pub.

The open road in Nevada

“My drinking carried on, getting more and more out of control. Eventually Zoe told me she was leaving me. Then out of the blue I received an e-mail from Men’s Fitness magazine, advertising a running race. It just clicked with me as a way to get sober. I wasn’t going to be let down by organized help. I couldn’t go on a waiting list. I did all the things they say you shouldn’t do to detox, but I ran a 10k (6.21371 miles) within six weeks of getting sober.”

The road to recovery was far from smooth, as Tom describes: “There was a process of mourning, of loss. I needed to see over time that alcohol offered me nothing. My abiding memory of drinking is that life was rubbish.”

Eventually Tom regained hope and love for life: “I love every day of my life now. The world is a fantastic place full of wonderful people,” he says.

He then issued a call for more help for people with alcohol dependence.

Tom says: “Despite my experience, people struggling with alcohol dependence need to know that help is out there; that there is recovery groups everywhere these days, and they are accessible to everyone.

“Also, let us not forget that God is just a prayer away, let us humble ourselves and ask for His help, he will help us if we ask Him.”

Tom also believes that the current widely-held belief that only alcoholics can help themselves is outmoded and unhelpful. He says: “I believe alcohol dependence is an illness like any other. You wouldn’t wait until a cancer patient was nearly dead before you gave them any treatment. There isn’t enough formal help as people say there is. I know of people dying for help.”

Please encourage Tom and his family on their epic journey and also pray for his driver Sean, Of course Zoe his wife, Orla and Oliver their two children, and Tom’s two older children Mason and Niall.

Contact details for interviews or to encourage them. For further information please visit:http://www.run4sobriety.co.uk. The cellphone to contact him on is  +1 (415) 797 9363 or 9364) and you can also contact Sean, his support driver, at:  + 1 (415) 797 9364. You can follow him on Twitter at @dryingout


About John Edwards: I am a former drug addict and alcoholic, born in Dublin Ireland. I was addicted for over 20 years, and as a result I ended up in mental institutions also begging while living on the streets of London. I’ve overdosed many times, but miraculously survived, had a liver transplant, cancer twice, now I have been a Christian for the last 26 years, and have been free from all addiction for 23 years. I am now married, have four stepchildren, and four grandchildren. I have opened rehab centers, authored three books, and carried an 11-foot wooden cross thousands of miles through Britain, Ireland and the USA, reaching many around the world with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. I remain committed to reaching the lost broken and downtrodden of society. God has been good to me and I must tell everyone. There is no such thing as a hopeless case. You can contact me at: johnwalkingfree@gmail.com


** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>