“I stay relaxed when I run. I can talk when I run,” Borland said Wednesday, after logging his daily 26.2 miles in Peoria. “I’ve been blessed by good health.”
The 31-year-old “ultrarunner” from Los Gatos, Calif., is on a mission to raise money for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), a degenerative childhood illness. Borland has pledged to run 63 marathons in 63 days, culminating with the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.
In each city, Borland focuses on a different child afflicted with the rare disease – A-T affects about 1 in 40,000 to 100,000 births. Borland pushes a stroller to honor an area child who has the disease or who has died from A-T. He runs the full distance with up to 15 local marathoners, and “fun runners” join in the last three miles.
When Borland rolled through central Illinois with the A-T CureTour, the guests of honor were A-T patients Megan Mautino, 20, of Chatham and Madeline Ellingsworth, 10, of Findlay, Ohio, whose father is Peoria native Dave Ellingsworth. Runners pushed the girls for the last loop. Meanwhile, about 30 red-shirted volunteers, many from Peoria Christian School, joined Borland’s nine-person support crew.
In Peoria, the crew included Carey Weaver, a counselor at Peoria Christian. Weaver not only organized the event, but ran the whole way with Borland
The normal human body is not supposed to be able to endure such a series of endurance tests. Borland is not normal. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder built up his endurance by doing ultramarathons (50- to 100-mile races), triathlons and running a “standard” 12 to 16 miles a day for months. “His trainers at Stanford told him, if anybody can do this – and not that they recommended it – Tim is the one,” Borland’s wife, Michelle, said.
Borland is about 10 pounds lighter than when he started Sept. 3 in Anaheim, Calif., despite his diet of the most fattening foods he can get his hands on, a menu that includes peanut butter sandwiches and Dairy Queen. “I don’t have to watch my weight,” he said.
But what’s really fueling Borland is unbridled enthusiasm.
“I feel like I’m floating,” the ultra runner said. “When I come around mile 23, I see all the red shirts waiting for me. It’s so inspirational. It’s an honor.”
The A-T patients also are an inspiration, especially Mautino, a clerk in the state comptroller’s office in Springfield. Many children with the disease are in wheelchairs by age 10, and most don’t live past their teens. She made it to adulthood. Her brother, Alex, died of A-T a few years ago.
Mautino said she found out about Borland when “some people at work showed me the Web site,” http://www.atcp.org.
“He’s a good runner,” she said.
After his Peoria marathon, Borland gave high-fives to the runners and hugged Mautino and Ellingsworth. Then, he exclaimed, “Let’s party!”
For a few hours, at least. Then it was off to Freedom, Wis., for marathon No. 32.