If there’s a list of CNMI runners with the most virtual races participated in at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, firefighter Edward Dela Cruz Jr. would be on top of it.
Dela Cruz joined four virtual races (competitive)—JP Heroes Run, NMA Turkey Trot Run, Run Guam 5 Mile, and Marathon Training Academy End the Year Virtual Half Marathon. As of last week, including the four competitive races and various challenges, his name was on 17 events.
The 28-year-old has completed all, but one of the Pacer Adventure Series: Mt. Fuji (24 miles); Mt. Kilimanjaro (31 miles); Mt. Everest Base Camp (44 miles); Great Ocean Walk (64 miles); (completed); and Great Pyramid of Egypt (82 miles). Dela Cruz’s last stop in the series is the Great Wall of China (186 miles) “course.”
He also entered The Conqueror Challenge Series and so far has completed the Mt. Fuji’s 46-mile event and is on to the Hadrians Wall (90 miles). Dela Cruz added the Guam’s Run to 21 Challenge (300 miles) to his completion list last weekend along with the Run the Marianas (460 miles team division) and Marathon Training Academy Corona Lisa 100 Miles Challenge.
Despite logging the required miles in the Run The Marianas’ team event, Dela Cruz did not stop there, as he is going for the finish, too as a solo runner in the same challenge.
Actually, the former infantry officer at the U.S. Army hasn’t hit the breaks since Jan. 12, 2017. Long before the virtual race fad came, Dela Cruz has been on the road.
“I run every single day. I started it since Jan. 12, 2017. To hold a running streak, you have to run at the minimum one mile nonstop every day. Walking cannot count. I didn’t intend to run my first 365 days. It started as a 30-day challenge. Grew to 90. Next thing I knew it’s already been 1,430 days (as of last Wednesday),” Dela Cruz said.
The former youth director of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa admitted getting into running to lose weight. He used to weigh 220 lbs and is now at 163 lbs.
“In 2016, I was in pretty bad shape and I knew I had to lose weight overall to improve my mental health. Running every day is basically my free anti-depressant pills. To date (last Wednesday), I have logged in 3,889.5 miles since I started my running streak,” Dela Cruz said.
His longest distance single run so far was 17 miles and he runs an average of 4.5 miles a day. He sometimes run twice or three times a day, depending on his work schedule and do strength conditioning training at the Latte Built Fitness and Nutrition Gym.
His dream race?
“I want to go to the Boston Marathon. My dream goal as a runner just manifested this year. A lot of people told me it’s impossible. Well, I run recreationally for 3.5 years. I just started training competitively this fall. I already shattered run times I thought were impossible. Give me another year or two and I will make the cut. The Boston Marathon is the crown jewel for marathon runners,” said Dela Cruz, a regular at Beach Road and the track oval at the Oleai Sports Complex.
With the Boston Marathon still a year or two away, Dela Cruz will keep his focus on the Run The Marianas for now and other races/virtual challenges he can get his hands on, including next week’s Christmas Island Relay.
“What keeps me motivated is stacking as many virtual races and running challenges to make my 460 miles as a solo runner by Valentine’s Day. I track my nutrition now. I make sure I get enough calories (protein, carbs,) water, and sleep to not die the next day,” the Navy Hill resident said.
“The other reason I stacked so many challenges is I’m a finisher medal collector now. I used to collect Pokémon, Yu-gi-oh, and other trading cards. I hung those up to pick up running shoes and collect finisher medals now. One day I hope to have my wall stacked with as much medals as Bishop Ryan Jimenez’s.”