Cleveland, Tenn., runners to finish trek to Boston today

Cleveland, Tenn., runners to finish trek to Boston today

April 19th, 2014 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

IF YOU WATCH

• Good Morning America Weekend, which airs at 7 a.m. on Chattanooga's WTVC News Channel 9, will air a segment this morning about the Cleveland, Tenn., runners involved in Run Relay Now.

Johnny Clemons

Johnny Clemons

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

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. today in Boston.

Dubbed the Run Now Relay, most of the team have taken turns running five or six 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 Friday 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 Friday. "It's challenging mainly because of the sleep. The last time I slept was two days ago."

The 5-foot-11 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.