Benjamin Hall’s last two weeks were a triumph of the spirit.
There was the day of torrential rain — rain so bad that he had to stop his Crush Cancer Campaign run temporarily when his legs locked up.
Then there were the dogs who showed up on a dirt road to check him out.
“And I even had to stare down a buck,” he said. “We just kept staring at each other until he finally moved.”
On Saturday, Oct. 12, Hall, 31, completed his 353-mile run from his home in Maryland to Fulton, where he was born and many of his relatives still live.
He ran nearly 29 miles a day — more than a marathon, which is 26.2 miles.
His Crush Cancer Campaign began more than a year ago as he decided he had to do something to raise awareness of the dreaded disease that claimed two people near and dear to him — his uncle Timothy Thurlow in 2003 and aunt Michele (Thurlow) Bellinger, in 2007. Both were from Fulton.
“My brother and sister were looking down on him every day during the run,” said Hall’s mother, Jamie Prue. “They were the wings beneath his feet.”
Hall, who once was overweight and out of shape, was shocked into doing something about his health after the deaths of his aunt and uncle. He worked with a personal trainer in Baltimore, who gave him weight goals and helped him learn how to eat healthy.
Today, he is fit and trim and focused on helping others learn how to ward off diseases like cancer.
“I want to get people in the best shape they can. Diet and lifestyle increase (chances of cancer) another 30 percent,” he said in an interview before leaving on his run Sept. 28.
“One out of three cancer deaths is related to diet and exercise,” he said.
His aunt, Lynn Coulon, a sister to Thurlow and Bellinger, said the deaths of his aunt and uncle hit him hard.
“I think it was a traumatic experience for him,” Coulon said.
Hall said he met many nice people along his route, with some — like the motel crew in Owego, NY — putting out signs encouraging him on his journey.
The rainy day almost broke him. He was between Clarks Summit and Montrose, Pa. “It was a 33-mile day and I had no motivation. It was miserable,” he said. “I had to keep stopping because my legs locked up. It took me eight hours to finish that day.”
When he jogged into the Kmart parking lot at 12:55 p.m. Saturday, nearly 50 people waiting for him, all decked out in fluorescent green T-shirts, cheered, applauded and broke into smiles that were at least 353-miles long.
Hall hugged his mother and then hugged or shook hands with everyone else. Many cried. hall and everyone else in the parking lot looked relieved it was over.
But then, after greeting everyone, Hall was joined by some of the crowd for the last 2.8 miles — a jog to his uncles house at 1740 Route 48, just north of Fulton.
With a police escort, he and his posse moved on.
“I’m so proud of what he’s doing and what he’s accomplished,” said his mom. Anything he sets his mind to, he does it.”