Jamie Summerlin, an ultra-marathoner and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, will sign copies of his book, “Freedom Run: A 100-Day, 3,452-Mile Journey Across America to Benefit Wounded Veterans,” at Barnes & Noble in Morgantown May 11, starting at 4 p.m.
The book is published by Fitness Information Technology, a division of the International Center for Performance Excellence at West Virginia University’s College of Physical of Activity and Sport Sciences.
“Freedom Run” tells of Summerlin’s 2012 transcontinental run across America and the heartfelt stories of courage and determination from the U.S. veterans he met along the way. Throughout the book, not a detail is spared. With light humor and great emotion, Summerlin provides the many elements involved in preparing for and accomplishing his journey, as well as some of the milestones and people who shared the experience with him. While many have attempted to run across the country, few have completed it; Summerlin became just the 48th person known to have finished a true coast-to-coast run in America.
Summerlin had another motivation for making his way across the country on foot. As Marine Corps veterans, both he and his wife wanted to recognize the men and women who defend our country. Summerlin captured the attention of individual and corporate sponsors to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project and other veteran-based charitable organizations during his run.
Running an average of 34.5 miles per day, Summerlin began in Coos Bay, Ore., the hometown of his wife, Tiffany, and collected stories of veterans he met all throughout his 100-day trek to the Atlantic Ocean. Summerlin capped off the adventure with a 100-mile home stretch from Annapolis, Md., to Rehoboth Beach, Del., in less than 24 hours. Overall, he ran the equivalent of 132 marathons during his span from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, energized by the unique experience, the people who supported him, the veterans he met, and their stories. Though countless media interviews and informal chats with bystanders added a bit of time to his pace, Summerlin relished any opportunity to speak to others along his run.
“Any chance I had to share the story of what we were doing also enabled me to give thanks and attention to the veterans that this run was all about,” says Summerlin in Freedom Run.
Jessica Lynch, a veteran and fellow West Virginian, wrote the book’s foreword.
“I am confident that Jamie’s courage was undoubtedly a source of inspiration and strength for all veterans and their families he met throughout the country,” Lynch said. “He will tell you it was just a small sacrifice to honor the commitment of our veterans, many of whom returned broken or did not return at all. But Jamie sacrificed so much to ensure America’s veterans were appropriately honored. He made a life-changing decision and, in turn, he changed so many lives.”
Like many ultra-endurance athletes, Summerlin sought assistance from sport psychology consultants and was able to gain tips from several doctoral students at CPASS. The advice kept him focused throughout the many mental and physical challenges along his journey and in anticipation of the postpartum depression that would follow the completion of his run.
“I experienced a sense of depression as I pondered what I would do when I reached the end,” says Summerlin. “It was overwhelming. I knew I had plenty to look forward to, but I couldn’t understand the emotions and I feared they would interfere with the demanding schedule ahead of me. I was glad I took the time to seek assistance from performance specialists.”
To advance his fundraising for veterans and passion for running, Summerlin will tour the country with Freedom Run and participate in several marathons and community races this year. The book is available at local and online bookstores and from Fitness Information Technology. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit veteran-focused charitable organizations. For more information, visit www.freedomrunusa.com.
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CONTACT: Sheila Saab, Fitness Information Technology