Micah Todd running along Highway 97 during the A.J. 121 on Oct. 5. Submitted photo.

South Cariboo man looking to bring awareness to suicide and mental health through ultramarathons

Micah Todd created the A.J. 121 ultramarathon after the passing of a local teenager

Micah Todd didn’t get to complete the A.J. 121 marathon that he created to honour a teenager who recently passed away after dying by suicide but he accomplished exactly what he set out to do.

“I started a conversation about it. The amount of people we had honking on the side of the road, the amount of support I had and the people who have been speaking about it. It’s been amazing,” said Todd, who started the marathon on Oct. 5 to raise suicide awareness.

He managed to run 72.5 miles in 15 hours.

However, Todd was unable to finish the 121 miles of his ultramarathon just outside of Cache Creek after falling ill.

“I laid down. It was beautiful outside and the night was amazing. It was clear skies and I was out there with my uncle and I drank down my shake, at that point I needed some nutrition and for sure I was running low. I got up to get moving and my stomach literally just went like a clamp. Just tightened right up.”

Todd tried to run for another 30 or 40 minutes in an effort to settle his stomach and warm his body up, but his stomach forced him into a fast walk. Eventually, Todd said he had to stop and was puking uncontrollably for 45 to 50 minutes. At this point, he had to call it. He could no longer eat or drink anything and made a judgment call.

However, Todd said he was very proud of himself for what he accomplished.

“I ran like a beast and I made amazing time,” he said. “No swelling in my feet, no blisters, no chaffing out of control, nothing. I’m sore of course. It’s hard walking around. I’m not going to lie, it’s very sore but that’s muscle fatigue and that’s to be expected. I think if I wouldn’t have let myself go into shock like that, if I wouldn’t have gotten myself so cold I would have been fine. “

Todd has planned to make the A.J. 121 an annual event every first weekend of October. He plans to do the same route he did this year next year, as he would like to finish it.

“That’s the athlete in me. It bugs me, for sure. My health comes before everything else. I have boys and all that, but yeah, I’m going to do it again next year – the same run and then every year we’ll play it by ear. We’ll do something. We’ll raise money for some foundation or whatever. I’ll reach out and see who the best foundations are and we’ll raise money and awareness for mental health.”

Todd initially planned to do an ultramarathon at the beginning of the year but ended up putting it aside due to some personal things, like a divorce, going on in his own life. But when a local teenager passed away in late July, it really “lit a fire under his butt”.

The teenager was the son of someone Todd worked with for six years. The two families also spent Christmases together, and the teenager would often babysit Todd’s two young sons.

The family of the teenager met with Todd in Clinton during his run.

“It was pretty emotional. They were pretty blown away with how fast I’d done it and where I was at what time, and the shape I was in. They were blown away. They were very, very happy.”

He also mentioned the general public has responded “outrageously” to his efforts, with people direct messaging him on social media or approaching him on the street telling him how proud they are of him speaking up about an issue that still has a stigma attached to it.

“I’d like to get more people in the conversation,” said Todd, adding that anyone can join the run with him, whether it is pounding the pavement beside him or being part of the pit crew. “It’s about getting out there and reaching out to the kids and people that feel like they don’t have a voice. People got to get out there in their community and help the people in that. That’s what it’s about. It’s a show of strength. It’s not about me. If I could be a blank face I would be. You just got to show by example and hopefully, people can find some kind of courage or hope through it and spread the word… Everybody out there – just keep going, keep pushing and if you feel like crap, it’s okay. But you got to talk about it.”

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