By Luke Kenton
Seeking to prove that anyone can be a superhero, this British man is running the equivalent of 230 MARATHONS across America dressed as his comic book alter ego, hoping to raise a million pounds for children’s charities.
Born with a rare spinal condition, syringomyelia, – causing cysts to form on the spinal cord – along with epilepsy and a weak immune system, Jamie McDonald, 31, from Gloucester is no stranger to adversity.
Spending much of his ailed youth bed bound or between hospital visits, the motivational speaker recalls waking from sleep being unable to feel his legs, leading doctors to fear he may lose his mobility all together.
But after a drastic and unexpected improvement just after his ninth birthday, Jamie’s symptoms eased, giving birth to a life-long obsession of pushing his mind and body to extreme limits – all in the name of helping others.
For his latest adventure, Jamie set himself the mammoth task of running from the west coast of the America – beginning in Cape Alava, Washington – all the way to the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, in Maine – America’s most easterly point.
Traversing a staggering 6000 miles – or 230 Marathons – on foot, Jamie has just a year to complete his epic voyage, where he’ll dressed as his superhero alter ego, Adventureman, visiting a number of children’s hospitals along the way.
Hoping to raise 1,000,000 GPB (1,600,000 USD) worldwide for the charity Superhero Foundation, which he co-founded, Jamie has covered nearly 1,300 miles since setting off on April 11th – but he still has more than 180 marathons left to run.
Crossing 15 state lines on his way to the finish, Jamie said: “I spent years of my life in and out of hospital, the staff and facilities were amazing – now I want to give back.
“I run at least the equivalent of a marathon every day, without a support team.
“This is just something I feel I should do on my own.
“Also, you can really rely on the kindness of others along the way – regularly they’ll let me stay in their garden or spare room, which is just lovely, but I camp most nights.”
Having cycled from Bangkok to Gloucester in 2012, and already run across Canada in 2013, Jamie is certainly adept at the seemingly impossible, but he admits this may be his most ‘demanding’ challenge yet.
Hitting a low at the 1,000 mile mark under the perception that he wasn’t making a difference’ Jamie confesses the emotional and physical toll running a marathon every day can take
However, having already visited a number of the hospitals his charitable funds will help to contribute towards, the stories of the children within helped to add wind back into Jamie’s sails.
The 2014 Pride of Britain award-winner said: “Within the first week of my adventure, I’d damaged the plantar fascia on the bottom of my foot, and found that running barefoot was the best solution to keep the injury at bay.
“I ended up running 200 miles barefoot, which I’d never done before.
“I hit a bit of a rough patch when I reached the 1,000 mile mark – I just felt that everything I was doing wasn’t making much of a difference.
“It’s difficult to get up every day and run a marathon, it just physically and emotionally breaks you.
“There can be days where it gets lonely and those are the days I struggle with the most.
“You have to find ways to build yourself up, and visiting the remarkable children at various hospitals was the perfect way to re-inspire me.
“It just remind me of the incredible reason I’m doing this and for all the sick kids it will help.
“When I focus on that, it’s easier to run and push through the sad thoughts.
“This is a cause very close to my heart and I’m very excited for the rest of the challenge.
“I’ve only got 10 months left and though I’m off to a good start, I can’t slack off – I have to keep going.”
To donate to Jamie’s cause, please visit: https://www.superherofoundation.org/donate/