CLINTON, MISS. — If you remember in December, we brought you the story of Tommy Locklin’s insane but heartfelt quest to conquer all odds for a higher purpose. A cross-country run from Seattle to Daytona Beach, with More Than Just Miles as the agenda. With today marking the final month of Locklin’s journey, we decided to check in with him to see how that run, and his continued initiative to help fight Cystic Fibrosis, is going.
Locklin, who grew up in and around Syracuse, began his journey last September in Seattle. Running across the United States, he is representing the More Than Just Miles Foundation, which is spearheading research and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The ugly inherited disease is generally found in children which inhibits lung, pancreas and other organ function. The mucus buildup in airways not only blocks the lungs and pathways to the pancreas, but the mucus can force shutdowns in digestion.
For those who suffer from the disease, like New Paris’ own Ethan Clem, life is not simple. Several hours a day taking pills and using specialized breathing machines forces an abbreviated lifestyle no one should have to endure. So, Locklin decided to do something about it. He’s fighting for Ethan. He’s fighting for all the other children and adults who suffer every day. His pain is mental. Their pain, as cures have not been solidified, often reign eternal.
“At this point, it’s really just a mental game,” Locklin said. “I still maintain what I am dealing with is minor compared to what little kids have to go through every day.”
So where is Tommy Danger, his preferred moniker? Tuesday morning his phone rang at 9 a.m. from lovely Clinton, Miss., which is a western suburb of Jackson, the capital of the Magnolia State. His route thus far has taken him through the great states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and now Mississippi. He will log miles in Alabama and Georgia before reaching his final destination of Daytona Beach, Fla., on April 13.
His mileage total as of Tuesday morning: 2,522 miles. All on foot. All logged on his Runkeeper app that he posts to Facebook and Twitter. No skipping terrain because there was a blizzard in Utah and New Mexico. No advancing in the van because of a thunderstorm, like in Louisiana. No skipping town because the food isn’t any good. Pick a city.
To hold up for this long is what some who follow Mr. Danger online have deemed a modern miracle. Many runners train their whole lives to run one 26.2-mile marathon. Deciding to up the ante just a little bit, last week Locklin carried out “Marathon Week”, running a marathon a day. Running 183.4 technical miles in seven days. This coming after running virtually daily since September.
What some thought was insane to comprehend really begged an explanation from him after this last week.
“I thought of it while I was running through the blizzard in New Mexico,” Locklin said of Marathon Week. “We were getting out of the mountains and the runs were getting easier. Things weren’t as hard, and I wanted a new challenge.
“Day five was the hardest, I was just beaten down. Tim (Ettridge, traveling with Tommy), knew exactly what I was thinking, and some of what I was saying I can’t repeat over the phone. But we kept going.”
The over 3,200 miles Locklin will log on the journey have not only proven mind over matter for this special human being, but the outreach within those miles he has touched has been incredible. And sometimes, those unaffected by CF are just as honored to be a part of it.
“A guy from Monroe, Louisiana, saw our van at a Starbucks and owned an Italian restaurant in town,” began Locklin, referring to John Bruscato, the owner of Geno’s. “We’ve had a lot of dinner offers already. This guy wasn’t affected from CF, he knew no one who had it. He just wanted the world to be a better place. So he invited his friends to come by.
“He changed his own life, and donated $300 and got us some TV time on Fox Sports Southwest. We might be able to set up an annual dinner at his restaurant.”
Maintaining he isn’t cheating death or his health, Locklin reports his feet are by and large blister-free, his shins aren’t in any pain, and his body is in good shape. He has gone through over a dozen pairs of shoes. His hips hurt from time to time, and the occasional blister will appear, but not hinder. Stating he is, “Just a lucky dude, I guess. I don’t crank out too fast. I just cruise. That’s the biggest misconception people have. They think I just sprint. I normally keep a 10-12 minute pace. I have to stay smart.”
That mindset will be paramount as the end draws near for this incredible journey. Locklin will have to limit his public appearances, which included a quick trip last month to Daytona for the Daytona 500 as an event emcee. In order to get back to Daytona Beach by the planned April 13th, Locklin will have to average around 21 miles per day, every day, before this final insane agenda unfolds.
The final mission on this journey will have Locklin run consecutively for 24 hours to close out the final 100 miles of his journey, which will conclude on the famed beach. This is now a required aspect as miles left divided by time equals nothing short of pure Danger. Four marathons in a row.
“Now we can finally see the finish, and it really is nothing but mental at this point,” Mr. Danger said without hesitation as he congruently browsed websites researching final day event sponsors. “I still have a lot of work ahead, but I can’t wait to see those faces when I get to Daytona. Little Ethan is going to be there. There are going to be a lot of people there waiting for me. I likely won’t see them all right away. I will be so broken down with emotion at that point. But it is going to be the greatest feeling to get there.”