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From Puget Sound to Pilchuck, marathon runners find their way to recovery

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Granite Falls — As he crossed the finish line of the 2019 Miami Marathon, an unexpected champagne shower on Greg Nance’s jersey stopped him.

Nance had just completed his seventh marathon in seven days on seven continents. He started by running 27 miles on hard ice off the runway from a decommissioned Soviet research base in Antarctica. Then he traveled to the city of Cape Town, South Africa. Perth, Australia. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Madrid, Spain; Santiago, Chile. and Miami.

His body ached, but the foaming spray was the most painful thing he had ever experienced. I texted people asking for The next morning he woke up dazed and terrified of an impending relapse.

Fast forward three years and Nance, 33, has turned that near-relapse into motivation to help others in crisis. This summer, Nance ran 3,156 miles from Long Island, New York to Ocean Shores, Washington. He consumed his 524,412 calories and three pairs of Brooks’ running shoes to fulfill his mission to raise money for youth mental health.

The Daily Herald met with Nance before heading out for a morning run on one of her favorite trails, Mount Pilchuck, to learn about her journey to recovery. Nance holds the record for the fastest sea-to-top time from the water front of Everett to her summit of Pilchuck. In July 2021, he ran his 40.3-mile route, climbing almost 7,000 feet in 7 hours and 11 minutes.

“Stormy Season”

Growing up on Bainbridge Island, Nance fell into depression when her grandfather Charlie died when she was 16. He turned to painkillers and alcohol to cope and battled addiction for six years.

As a student at the University of Chicago, he did long runs around the city along the Lake Michigan waterfront. Running put his body into what he called a “meditative autopilot” like no other.

The lakeside loop became longer and longer. He started running marathons.

“I was still drinking too much, I was still on my meds,” he said. was showing.”

He woke up the hangover and drove away the shame. Then he will get drunk again.

In 2011 Nance ran his first ultramarathon. At the end of that year, the man from Bainbridge Island was sober. Alongside running, community service was essential to Nance’s healing.

This year, he launched the Lan Farr Foundation, an organization dedicated to youth mental health through funding volunteer projects and outdoor activities.

“What really worked for me was getting to work with children,” he said. “To say, ‘I’m this guy’s role model and I want to be the right role model.'”

The foundation offers startup grants in all 50 states. Grants range from $100 to $500.

“Even when you’re young and full of energy and have a lot of great ideas, you often don’t have the money to buy the gear you need to run,” he said.

The grant has been used to purchase running shoes for children, host community picnics, and host mentoring events.

This summer, Nance raised over $110,000 for the Run Far Foundation as he ran through 14 states (the equivalent of 120 marathons).

“Fortunately, I am now in a place where I can pay for it on my journey,” he said. “I want to help young people build resilience. That way, when hard things come, they will be ready to deal with it and ready to be there when others are going through their hard times. It’s more organized.”

“Like Freedom”

Nance burned about 6,500 calories each day while running across the country.

“It’s hard to eat that much, especially when you’re running,” he said. “That was one of the biggest challenges: maintaining energy.”

Runners said one of their go-to snacks before a big run is a bagel with peanut butter. After my run, I love making a “hearty omelette” or other protein-rich meal. Best of all, Nance, she said, is in heaven whenever she can get her hands on a slice of key lime pie.

In August, Nance ran from Puget Sound to the top of Mount Rainier. Her 85-mile ascent to the 14,411-foot summit took almost two days, including breaks.

Most of his training runs in preparation for that trip were “short, sweet and slow.”

“In the first few seasons, I tried too hard and had a lot of issues. increase.

When asked what his ideal mile time is, Nance said it all depends on the terrain. said he.

Nance monitors her heart rate on her smartwatch. To run across America, he aimed to keep his heart rate at 110 beats per minute. He said that if he got much higher than that, the pace would slow down.

The record-setting runner said pump-up jams were one of the key keys to his success. One day, he listened to a remix of the VHS Collection song “Waiting on the Summer” on repeat for twelve hours.

“I got it,” he said with a smile. “This song even got a stamp of approval from my 7-year-old niece.”

Nance said he wants to start running clubs in Snohomish County and provide grants to local youth. Those interested in applying for funding can do so on her website at the Run Far Foundation.

He says running saved Nance’s life, and he wants to help others find hope in running. He will never forget his first run in his early sobriety, through the English countryside near Cambridge, past orchards and rolling hills.

“I was getting high from a natural, clean burning source,” he said. “It’s as opposed to smoking something or doing drugs or drinking. It felt like freedom.”

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @Reporter Leren.