By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Tipton County resident Ruben Cantu had to deliver on his goal.
The motivation for Cantu to complete 22 marathons in 24 days across Texas were his family and friends who donated to his cause.
His cause of raising awareness against childhood obesity helped him endure injury to complete the journey from the New Mexico/Texas border to the Louisiana state line.
“The first day it was very cold,” Cantu recalled. “It was extreme cold going from rain to sleet and then full-on snow. There were some days of 80 degrees and sunshine. The weather definitely ranged.”
A marathon is 26.2 miles. Cantu and others participating in the recent event in Texas ran 26.45 miles a day.
Cantu started the challenge as a 71-year-old veteran runner on March 4. More than 600 miles later, Cantu celebrated his 72nd birthday on March 27 with his final marathon. The runners ran 8 straight days and got a day off.
Then they concluded six more of the marathons before another day off. Then all the runners finished with 8 more marathons.
Cantu said this was the toughest challenge in his running career. When the San Antonio, Texas native was 29, he started running as a way to stay healthy.
Retired from the Navy, Cantu was fully award of his family’s history of cardiovascular disease. One of 11 children, Cantu might be the healthiest of the five remaining siblings. He doesn’t take any medicine and works at the Atoka Fire Department.
Cantu has an impressive resume’ when it comes to running for his health. He sets a goal each year to run at least 1,000 miles. The challenge in Texas knocked out 600 already for 2015.
Over the past 40 years Cantu has ran in places like Death Valley, Utah, Las Vegas, all over California, Florida, Georgia and his current state of Tennessee.
Before his runs in Texas this past March, Cantu completed 24 marathons. He’s added five 100-milers, seven Badwater Ultra-marathons.
The Badwater is a 135-mile race from Badwater in Death Valley (elev. 282 feet below sea level) to Whitney Portals on Mt. Whitney (elev. 8360 feet).
It is known as the toughest foot race in the United States. Cantu said the Badwaters were tough but his recent challenge was more demanding.
“It was much more difficult,” he said. “The Badwater is a tough 44 hours. But this one has a blizzard on day one. Then on day two I had a blister on my foot. So I had to do 20 marathons with a blister.”
The pain in his foot with the interior exposed had to be treated with medicine and wrapped in duct tape daily by his wife Carol.
The injury added about an hour to Cantu’s time daily with him finishing the marathons in 6 hours and 30 minutes.
Cantu said he had to finish what he started because bringing awareness to childhood obesity is important. He would like to see children live healthy lifestyles and not have to take medication.
And the support of his family and friends motivated Cantu to finish the course.
Cantu said he wants to thank all who supported him including his wife, and siblings Beliasolis and her husband John and his brother Roger Cantu.
“This is the most rewarding run of my life,” he said. “Not only the event itself but all my family was there to support me. I literally couldn’t have done it with them. My sister and my wife took care of my foot every day.”