Greg Nance runs and runs and runs. The 2007 Bainbridge High School graduate just completed a 3,156 mile trek across America – from New York City to Ocean Shores, WA – to raise funds and awareness for his non-profit that supports youth who are challenged by mental health.
“I started with a foot in the Atlantic on April 25th and ran the equivalent of 120 marathons across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington to dip my feet in the Pacific on July 17th,” he says on his web site, https://www.gregrunsfar.com/.
You can also follow him @GregRunsFar on Instagram to see the beautiful landscapes he passed and read his daily recaps and meet “some of the wonderful folks I connected with along the way.”
“Our mission,” he says, “is to spark a nationwide movement for youth mental health. We’ve raised over $108,000 from donors in all 50 states. And, with your help, we’re just getting started!”
Nance’s running craze and desire to give back, started when he was a somewhat troubled teenager growing up on Bainbridge. “Overwhelmed by depression after my Grandpa Charlie’s debilitating stroke, I turned to alcohol and painkillers at age 16,” he says. “I cut classes, got into fistfights, and was suspended from the (BHS) tennis team.”
His “free-fall” only stopped, he recalls, with the help of a daily running ritual and the meaningful community I found working on Moneythink, a youth-led volunteer project. “Running and volunteering helped me overcome depression and alcohol abuse to finally get sober on December 29, 2011.
“In the years since, I’ve kept running, kept volunteering, and kept smiling too,” he adds. “I ran across America to pay it forward with Run Far Foundation. The money we raise together will provide youth with grassroots funding for impactful volunteer service and community-building opportunities.”
“Together, let’s turn the tide on America’s mental illness and addiction epidemics by investing in youth mental health.”
Some of Nance’s previous running feats are the stuff of legends. When he was living in Shanghai in 2016, Delta Airlines shot a commercial of him running 15 miles to watch a Seahawks game in a local sports bar. The commercial was dubbed “The Most Committed Seahawks Fans Aren’t Always in Seattle.” Nance is shown in the wee hours of the morning running on the streets of Shanghai. Later he meets former Seahawks defensive back Jordan Babineau (now an announcer) at the bar, and he appears genuinely overwhelmed by the experience.
If that wasn’t enough, he has set 35 “Fastest Known Time” records including the fastest runs across Chicago, NYC, Montreal, Aruba, Bahamas, Singapore, and Shanghai. Add to those incredible achievements is one more that may not be surpassed anytime soon:
He ran 7 Marathons in 7 Days on 7 Continents in February 2019. Beginning with 26.2 miles across Antarctic ice, he then ran back-to-back marathons in Cape Town, Perth, Dubai, Madrid, Santiago, and Miami. “Definitely a wild week,” he recalls.
“For me, running has been the way that I’ve followed my smile, it’s been the thing that’s kept me happy, it’s helped me build my own mental health over the years, and when you do things that you love, you can do them at the highest level,” Nance told KING 5. “You can live the kind of life that you imagine, beyond your dreams.”
Nance was joined on some parts of his Run Across America by other runners, bikers and various supporters. People from across the country also followed along on social media and via a live GPS tracker. Nance’s incredible undertaking will be featured in an upcoming documentary. He also hopes more people are inspired to check out his non-profit that supports youth-led initiatives.
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