BELMONT (CBS) — A recovering addict-turned-ultra-runner completed his goal of running for a full 24 hours straight Tuesday morning.
Henry Ward ran the Belmont High School track from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday to raise money for scholarships for programs to fight addiction–about 350 laps in all, or roughly 85 miles.
“It’s a long way to run, but I knew it’s a track run-slash-walk-slash-just-get-it-done,” Ward told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker. “I didn’t have any mileage goals, just to finish it.”
As a recovering alcoholic and addict, he sought treatment nearly 9 years ago.
“I knew I needed help, but I was kind of ashamed,” Ward said. “I walked into a treatment center, a little intimidated, and the guy said, ‘What would you do to change?’ And I said, ‘Pretty much anything,’ and he’s like, ‘Sign up.’ I’m like, ‘Woah woah woah, I’m just here to get information and stuff.’ He’s like, ‘What would you do to change? Anything? Then sign up!’ I said, ‘I don’t know if I have the money,’ He says, ‘Money’s not an object to do anything,’ So I said, fine, I’ll sign up.”
Now an ultra-marathoner, Ward runs to raise money for RunWell, an organization that helps others seek treatment and live healthier.
“We encourage a healthy lifestyle, we encourage people to get into running and stuff to help with their recovery,” Ward said.
He said he also wants to help break the stigma of those who suffer from addiction.
“It’s hard for a lot of people, it’s hard for me, and I finally did it,” said Ward. “Ultimately it saved my life, so I’m trying to save lives out there.”
It was a little chilly Tuesday morning, and a few raindrops started to fall as Ward neared the 24-hour mark. His usual running group, who he runs the track with from 5-6 a.m. every week, was with him for the final stretch.
“I’m actually feeling pretty good,” he said. “My feet were really bothering me for a while, my knee was bothering me … just running with these super-inspiring people is enough to get me to the end.”
Ward just finished running the entire Boston Marathon course four times. Next, he’ll take part in a 5K this weekend–and in November, coinciding with his 9th year of sobriety, he’ll be running in a four-desert, six-stage race in Patagonia, Argentina.
“I’m stumbling forward, and that’s what you do in addiction, too,” Ward said. “You just take one day at a time, one step at a time. Can’t worry about a month down the road, really, just worry about today. Do the best you can for today.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports