IF YOU WATCH
• Good Morning America Weekend, which airs at 7 a.m. on Chattanooga’s WTVC News Channel 9, will air a segment Saturday morning about the Cleveland, Tenn., runners involved in Run Relay Now.
Johnny Clemons got out of bed and ran a 26.2-mile marathon today — for the eighth day in a row.
Clemons is one of about 30 runners who left Cleveland, Tenn., on April 12 for a roughly 1,000-mile relay run to Boston to raise funds for two charities there in honor of victims and survivors of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.
They expect to end their trek at 2 p.m.on Saturday in Boston.
Dubbed the Run Now Relay, most of the team has taken turns running 5 or 6 miles a day while passenger vans haul resting teammates.
But Clemons, a 37-year-old personal trainer, has logged 26.2 miles every day of the relay.
“We call him ‘Johnny Marathon’,” teammate Fred Garmon said today by phone from Connecticut. “He’s a machine. He’s an absolute machine.”
Clemons will rest Sunday — and then run Monday in the Boston Marathon in the first group of runners that includes elite runners from around the world.
“It’s definitely challenging,” Clemons said today. “It’s challenging mainly because of the sleep. The last time I slept was two days ago.”
The 5-foot, 11-inch marathoner usually weighs 163 pounds, but figures he’s around 150 now. Clemons, who leans toward a “paleo” diet, has been trying to eat enough protein and fat to keep nourished for his daily marathon runs, all of which have been under three hours.
“I’m a Christian,” Clemons said. “I rely on my strength through the Lord.”
The Run Relay Now team has raised about $60,000 for Boston Dream Big, which buys sports equipment for inner-city girls, and the One Step Ahead Foundation, a New York State-based group that provides prosthetic limbs to children.
Team members have garnered media attention as they’ve run through seven states, including from Good Morning America, which will air a segment on the Cleveland runners this morning that was taped with correspondent Sara Haines in Times Square.
“It’s going great,” Garmon said. “It’s been an incredible journey. No one’s hurt. It’s been harder than we ever dreamed.”
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.