Running across Georgia in five days is not enough for Columbus ultra-marathon runner John Temples. This year, he will attempt the 260-mile journey with his dog, Kevin.
Teeples, Brenda Hitz and Kevin left downtown Columbus Thursday night and plan to be in Savannah by Tuesday morning, covering more than 50 miles a day.
“We can’t wait to get going,” Teeples said just prior to starting the run. “He’s got a lot of energy.”
Kevin, like his master, has been training for the endurance test.
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“Kevin has been running every day with me for the last four months,” Teeples said. “He has been averaging somewhere between 50 and 85 miles a week. His long run has been 85 miles. As long as I keep him out of the heat, he does very well.”
Teeples is doing the initial phase of the 2017 Run Across Georgia, an event he has spearheaded for nine years. He starts in Columbus a week before the main run and covers the course in reverse, putting out small American flags along the route.
Most of the participants, many of them participating on relay teams, will start May 26 in Savannah and be back in Columbus on May 28.
Teeples and Kevin, a rescue dog from Russell County that he has owned since January, plan to run between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. every day. There is an escape plan if the run becomes too much for Kevin, Teeples said.
“We’re not going to push it, if he feels like he can go, we will go,” he said. “If he feels like getting in the car, that will be just fine. I give him a 50-50 chance.”
More than $150,000 was raised for charity last year, Teeples said. A week before the race begins, about $70,000 has already been pledged this year. The money will go to House of Heroes, a Columbus-based nonprofit that works to repair homes of soldiers and law enforcement and their spouses.