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Manchester man to run 353 miles to promote cancer prevention

Over the next two weeks, Manchester resident Ben Hall will be traveling from his Carroll County home to the home of his late uncle, Timothy Thurlow, in Fulton, N.Y.

He won't be flying.

He won't be driving or even biking.

He will be running. All 353 miles from Manchester to Fulton, which is about 30 miles north of Syracuse.

Hall, a 31-year-old director of operations for the Baltimore-based landscaping company Lorenz, Inc., will be running the equivalent of a marathon a day for 12 out of the next 14 days.

His goal is to raise awareness for cancer prevention and $5,000 for the American Cancer Society.

"If I can't run and I have to walk, I'll walk. If I can't walk, I'll crawl," Hall said Tuesday. "I'm not in a race, I'm not looking to break any speed records. I'm just looking to endure, but I'm confident I can do this."

Hall, whose aunt and uncle both died from cancer within the past 10 years, said the idea to run from Manchester to Fulton in honor of his relatives just "hit him" while he was vacationing in Florida earlier this year.

"Ever since it entered my head, it hasn't left. It's just consumed me," he said. "This is a goal that I've written down and it's a goal that I need to accomplish."

Hall is scheduled to leave Manchester at 9:15 a.m. Saturday and arrive in Fulton Oct. 12. He will be stopping in 13 cities throughout Pennsylvania and New York after running anywhere from 21.3 miles to 32.8 miles that day.

He has two rest days scheduled throughout the two weeks.

On Saturday, Hall's personal trainer, Chris Sams, will accompany him the 25.7 miles from Manchester to York, Pa. But after that, Hall will be alone with nothing but a stroller containing snacks, water, a change of clothes, a journal, toothbrush, and other essentials.

Sams, who has been Hall's personal trainer for the last two years, described Hall as a great family guy, always out to help others.

"He just seems to be excited for life," he said.

Sams, who last year ran across the country from Baltimore to San Diego to promote physical fitness, said Hall's training regimen has not changed much in advance of his two week, 353-mile run.

Instead, Sams has been helping Hall prepare mentally for the everyday grind of running 20 to 30 miles a day.

"It is a physical burden to run four, five, six hours day after day, but at the same time, you have to pump yourself up to do that," Sams said.

A former high school wrestler, Hall said he began taking physical fitness seriously again at 30. He has been  doing yoga, crossfit training and working with Sams after he gained weight throughout his 20s.

He has been running 15 to 20 miles every Saturday and Sunday for the past few months in preparation for his journey.

"I am going to make every attempt I can to run this, more or less, without too much stopping," Hall said.

Hall's aunt and uncle both were late-diagnosed with cancer, Hall said.

His uncle had a rare bone cancer, while his aunt had lung cancer, which spread to her liver, he said.

Hall said his uncle's death was his first experience with death as an adult.

"It had such an impact on me that I wanted to do something in their memory," he said.

Hall, whose grandfather died of throat cancer, pointed out that only one of 20 cases of cancer is due to hereditary or genetics.

Although Hall said it is nearly impossible to prevent, people can lower their risk of cancer.

"Raising the money is great, but raising this awareness is priceless," he said.

Jen Burdette, a missions delivery specialist with the American Cancer Society in Carroll County, said she was "pretty shocked" when Hall approached her with the idea.

"We thought it was a really cool idea, definitely different and not your everyday fundraiser," she said.

Burdette said the organization is contacted pretty often by businesses and schools wanting to raise money for the American Cancer Society, but rarely is it just one person.

"He [Hall] is a very determined guy, so I have no doubt that he is going to accomplish this," she said.

Hall said he has already raised $2,975 via a 50/50 raffle and other donations. Donations can be made by visiting his website http://www.crushcancer.webs.com.

You can follow Hall's journey on his website or Facebook page.

The shortest distance between Manchester and Fulton is 317 miles, but Hall said he rerouted his trip to have reasonable lodging and food, hence the 353-mile route.

At each stop, he plans to be out in the community trying to raise awareness for cancer prevention.

"I'm going to be running my mouth to absolutely everyone I come across, telling them what I'm doing and why," he said.

Hall, who grew up in Fulton but has lived in Manchester since 2007, has challenged the city of Fulton to run with him across the finish line. He said police will be there to escort them the 2.8 miles from the city limits to his uncle's home.

Hall acknowledges the run will be a challenge mentally and physically, but he is more excited than nervous that he won't be able to finish.

"Anybody can do a marathon," he said. "It's all a matter of time."

Hall's schedule is as follows:

Sept. 28: Manchester to York, Pa. – 25.7 miles

Sept. 29: York to Harrisburg – 25.8 miles

Sept. 30: Harrisburg to Lebanon – 27.4 miles

Oct. 1: Lebanon to Pottsville – 32. 8 miles

Oct. 2: Pottsville to Hazleton – 26.3 miles

Oct. 3: Hazleton to Wilkes Barre – 23.8 miles

Oct. 4: Rest

Oct. 5: Wilkes Barre to Clarks Summit – 23.1 miles

Oct. 6: Clarks Summit to Montrose – 28. 6 miles

Oct. 7: Montrose to Owego N.Y. – 31.9 miles

Oct. 8: Owego to Ithaca – 29.3 miles

Oct. 9: Rest

Oct. 10: Ithaca to Cortland – 21.3 miles

Oct. 11: Cortland to Syracuse – 32.6 miles

Oct. 12: Syracuse to Fulton – 24.6 miles

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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