For more than a week Jordan Stafford has been running a marathon nearly every day. And he’s not done yet. By the time he reaches the Triangle on Friday, the NC State student will have logged 260 miles, traversing the state from Asheville to Cary.
There’s little in the way of loneliness for this long-distance runner, however. Friends from the Millstriders running club in Chapel Hill have joined him along the way and a pace car is never far behind, thanks to Hendrick Auto Mall in Cary.
“Lots of long hills,” Stafford wrote from the road last Thursday. “Hills, hills, hills.”
Running for a Reason
It’s quite an undertaking for someone who’s never run a 10K, much less a marathon. But Stafford’s endurance is fueled as much by inspiration as perspiration. Money donated by sponsors will help the Mariposa School for Children with Autism in Cary, where Stafford’s dad serves as interim executive director.
In fact, Stafford got the idea for the run from his dad when they were brainstorming ways to help the nonprofit school.
“I said I was thinking of training for a triathlon,” Stafford recalled. “Dad said, why don’t you run across the state.”
What started as a joke quickly turned into a challenge. And Stafford knows all about challenges. As a teenager, he was diagnosed with a disease called adenoid cystic carcinoma.
“It’s so rare, only about 10 people under the age of 50 have ever had this,” he said. “That’s not the way I wanted to be special.”
After a treatment regimen that included six weeks of neutron beam therapy at the University of Washington, Stafford returned home to rebuild his health and get on with life.
“When I’m on my 18th mile you know what I’ll be thinking,” he said before beginning the run. “If I can handle cancer, I can handle this. This is easy. All I have to do is run.”