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Ambassador Spotlight: Henry Ward

Henry Ward has been an ambassador for Runwell for a little over a year and is putting on some pretty interesting fundraisers to help get him to the Patagonia ultramarathon this year. Those fundraisers included a 12-hour treadmill-a-thon and his upcoming Boston Quad event on April 1, which is the Boston Marathon course four times, back to back. Learn more about what drives him, and show him some love by donating if you can! 

A little about your current career, location, hobbies, family, etc.

I am a chef by trade, and literally just graduated from personal training school yesterday!

My favorite job I had was as a food stylist, which is styling food for photography. I like to make food look great, you eat with your eyes!  I also was a chef for the 2008 Beijing Olympics! On a similar note, I really love to eat! So with that being said, eating is one of my hobbies.  Being an ultra runner nutrition is very important. Food is fuel. Bad food is bad fuel, great food is great fuel, makes sense, right?

I plan on combining my culinary knowledge, nutrition, with fitness, running, and endurance to eventually start my own business. My business will be all about helping people change their lives, and crushing their goals in the process.

I am happily married to my wife Alejandra for 11 years. I would not be here if it were not for her. I owe her my life, she saved my life. I got help in recovery because of me, but she was a major part of the decision as well. She has helped me change in so many ways I cannot even count. We have a 5-year-old son Sebastian who means the world to us! He has brought so much joy to both of our lives. They always come first!

Running and fitness keep me somewhat balanced. I  am by no means recovered, I will never be because there are no cures for addiction. I am a constant work in progress. But, running and exercise help me feel more balanced, and help me live life on life’s terms, and deal with things in a more of a calm manner.

I currently live in Waltham, MA but will be relocation back to The Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, Arizona in early May.  

What does Runwell mean to you and your recovery?

I was not sure what I could do for Runwell, or why I should sign up, but my intuition said it is something that I should look into, so I did. I had a few Facebook friends that were posting group runs with recovery centers and thought that was awesome, giving back and getting people who are suffering into running, that is cool!

I had a phone call, and it went well, just was not sure what I had to offer them, but again, I knew I could help, or do something. I quickly realized that Runwell was family, that we were all in this together, we inspired each other and feed off each other. Recovery is badass!

Runwell has taken my life to a different level. I decided about 6 months ago to be publicly open about my sobriety. A lot of my Runwell teammates were sharing their stories, talking about recovery on Facebook, and I always thought there was no need for me to share.  Well, that was selfish. Why not share, I could be motivating someone who did not have the courage or strength to ask for help? Runwell gave me the strength to share my story with the world in hopes to help and inspire others.  Runwell gave me this platform to do so, I am forever grateful. So, I opened up, and the messages I have received from 1000s has been overwhelming. I have received coaching from Lisa Smith Batchen, which has taken me to a different level as a runner, and person. I cannot thank her enough.  

Greatest achievements, or recovery’s finest moments so far? 

Recovery’s finest moments are yet to come. As I prepare for this Boston Quad in two days, the response has been tremendous.  So many people want to be a part of this to support me. So many complete strangers have messaged me thanking me, and for helping them. Life is about helping others and making the world a better place. I am just trying to do my little part in this thing we call life. ¨Changing Lives, One Footstep At A Time¨

You talk about hating the first race you ever ran, how the heck did you get from that to Patagonia 2017.

We were going to visit our great friends in Corning, NY for Memorial Day weekend in May 2013. I noticed there was an 8k race as part of the events for Glassfest 2013 and annual weekend-long thing. I asked my friend Enrique if he was running. He said he would if I did. I said, sign me up!  I had no idea how far an 8k even was. I ran twice for training and decided to run the race of 5.3 miles pushing Sebastian in his stroller. Well, it was hard, very hard. I was hating life from the moment the race started until the end. I vowed never to run again, I hate this, running is the worst...  I wanted to bail out but just kept going. Then, I saw my family, the track, the finish line was near. I finished and received a glass medallion!  It was the coolest feeling. I accomplished this and actually did pretty well. I went back to our friend´s house and asked if I could use his laptop. Alejandra asked, what for? I said I wanted to check something. So, the addict in me types something in Google like road races running Waltham Massachusetts soon! Sure enough, there was a race the following weekend and the one after that. There was a race series! I signed up for one, then after that the other and I was hooked!

Speed up to May 2014, I had registered to run my first marathon, Pittsburgh Marathon. I’ve run 12 official marathons since, 5 50+ milers, a 100-miler, and numerous marathon-distance training runs on my own, including the Boston Marathon course twice back-to-back last year, and a 12-hour treadmill-a-thon that I ran 79 miles for!

The 12-hour treadmill-a-thon and the Boston Quad, which is the Boston Marathon course 4 consecutive times are my think-out-of-the-box fundraising concepts for the Patagonia 6-day stage race in November 2017. I will run 25, 25, 25, 25, 50, and 5 miles for 6 days while carrying all my equipment.

I am not done yet as far as fundraising ideas, the best is yet to come.  I am not sure what the progression to the Boston Quad is yet, but progression = more!

What inspired you to want to run the Boston course four times back to back?

Personal challenge. As I mentioned, I did it twice last year. This year I am more prepared mentally and physically and want to know what this will feel like to endure, conquer and finish.

How do you push through the hard parts of a run or recovery?

I know that there are 25 million Americans that suffer more than I do or will, that keeps me going. Everyone in a race is in pain and discomfort, it is just how you deal with it. The people in the back, the middle and the elites are all in pain. I have a high pain tolerance and have learned to embrace it, deal with it, accept it. A lot of this is in the head. If you say, oh this is hard, this sucks, I am tired, it is all negative chit chat that will eat you alive. It is going to be hard, no kidding! If it was easy, everyone would do it.  

An item on your bucket list?

BADWATER 135. I would absolutely love to run, walk crawl this event. 135 miles starting at the lowest place below sea level (280 miles) and running across Death Valley on the hottest days of the year, to the portals of Mt. Whitney, highest point in the continental Unites States, yup, I want in.

I would love to do more stage races like Gobi Desert as well. Spartathalon.  

Do you have a mantra?

Living for today.

Any advice to those struggling with addiction, thinking recovery is unattainable?

Get help today because tomorrow may never come, tomorrow may be too late. If I can change, I honestly believe anyone can. Be brave and courageous, admitting you are powerless is key. Fully accepting that one cannot take one drink or use ever again was really powerful for me!

Want to help Henry? You can donate here. 

Check out all the coverage Henry received for his treadmill-a-thon!

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