Bainbridge man finishes running campaign to raise mental health awareness

Published 4:41 pm Friday, June 1, 2018

How long would it take you to run from Bainbridge to the outer limits of Chicago?

Bainbridge runner Harold Allen got it done in one month at a marathon per day pace. To raise money for mental health awareness and treatment in his hometown, Allen pledged to run 26.2 miles a day throughout May in concurrence with Mental Health Awareness Month.

His final run was Thursday, and he was flanked by a team of friends and escorted by a Bainbridge Public Safety vehicle on the final stretch. His finish line was the front door at Memorial Hospital and Manor.

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Allen crossed it as a crowd of family, co-workers and friends cheered for him.

As a man who considers himself a “renegade runner”, Allen was caught off guard by the amount of people applauding him at the finish line. The support felt great, he said.

“That was the first time I’ve ever had someone cheering me on like that while I’m running,” said Allen. “I’ve run thousands and thousands of miles on Shotwell Street by myself. To have a group cheering me on from my hometown, that’s pretty special.”

Now that it’s over, Allen feels relieved. With every corner he took and mile he ran on the final route, he couldn’t help but think how he’d be able to take a nice, long break from running after this. Strangely, the physical wear and tear of running a marathon a day wasn’t what got to him.

It was the strain it put on his work at Memorial Hospital, or spending more time with his family. He never missed a day at the job, though, and he can’t wait to spend more time with his daughters, including a new 5-week-old girl.

Would he do it all again?

“Yes,” said Allen emphatically. “But I won’t do it again under the same circumstances.”

He sees now why professional runners have physical trainers, assistance crews and nutritionists. Allen ran 812.2 miles without any of that.

The day before his final run, Allen finished his marathon at 10 p.m. He opted for a 12-pack of tacos from Taco Bell, a restaurant he rarely eats at, he said.

“The diet has been crazy,” said Allen. “I don’t eat pork, and I don’t drink sodas. Being a good size guy, I need to eat. But I got kind of hardheaded and ate a lot of snack foods and soups, and a lot of days I would just skip eating. I did nibbling here and there, but because I was so focused on my mental game, when I got off work, it was time to run a marathon.”

So far, Allen has raised a little more than $2,000 that he plans to donate. There is still time for supporters to donate to the cause, though. Next Saturday, June 9, at the Earle May Boat Basin, Allen and his supporters will host a celebration featuring a 1-mile fun run, food, drinks, prizes and giveaways. The event time has not been set yet.

“I accomplished everything I sought out for,” said Allen. “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”