Jeremy Boyd was on his way to pick up a pizza when he came up with the idea.
He would run the 243 miles from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., to Ground Zero in New York City in honor of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
And he’d do it in four days.
Boyd, 36, a running coach and stay-at-home dad who lives in Holly Springs, started his journey Monday and expects to arrive at Freedom Tower on Thursday.
“I always wanted to do something. I just didn’t know what,” Boyd said. “I was kind of getting the feeling that people were starting to forget about (9/11). I figured if I ran, people would think I’m crazy and kind of draw attention to it.”
Boyd began training for what he calls “Run to Never Forget” around Thanksgiving. He suffered a minor setback when he got injured in December, but he recovered and completed a 50-mile race in June.
The last several months he has been training and raising money through local fundraisers for Tuesday’s Children, a charity that supports families of 9/11 victims, and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
“It’s really just to show the victims and the military that we’re behind them and that they aren’t forgotten,” said Boyd, who has several friends in the military, including running partners.
For his run to New York, Boyd plans to hit the pavement at 6 a.m. each day and to log an average of 60 miles per day. The journey will take him through five states – Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
He plans to run 12-minute miles, for about 12 hours a day.
“I’m approaching it as it’s not a race, so just go easy,” Boyd said. “I’ve got a long four days of this. A 10-mile run is an average midweek run for me, so the goal mentally is to break it up into 24 10-mile runs. It’s more of just learning to run on tired legs. It’s so much more mental when you get into that state (of mind).”
Boyd will see plenty of friends along the way. He is staying at local firehouses which set him up with a bed and a home-cooked meal.
A support team is setting up food and water stations for him along the route.
He has invited anyone who wants to run with him for any distance along the way. And some family members and victims of the Sept. 11 attacks will run the final mile with him into Ground Zero.
Boyd said his biggest concerns are an expected wave of heat and humidity, sun exposure, forcing himself to eat and stay hydrated and running through some rough neighborhoods.
He currently works part time as a running coach at Lifetime Fitness in Cary and plans to return to work full time after his run. He previously worked as a case manager for at-risk youth but is unsure if he wants to return to the field or explore something new.
“I’ll have 240 miles to think about it,” Boyd said.