To run 26.2 miles is a testament to one’s devotion and work ethic. It’s punishment. It’s pain. Anyone who’s run a marathon knows it takes little bit of crazy to attempt such a task.
And then there’s Jeremy Soles. He ran 26.2 miles while wearing a gas mask.
“It may seem unorthodox to a normal civilian,” says Soles, a former Marine, “but the men and women who have served in the armed forces understand the significance to the gas mask. It’s about overcoming obstacles, mental and physical.”
Since serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Soles has devoted his life to helping other veterans overcome disabilities and build confidence. In 2009 he founded Team X-T.R.E.M.E. — an acronym for Train, Rehabilitate, Empower, Motivate and Endure. The nonprofit’s mission is to help wounded service members from Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild their lives through feats of physical and mental endurance. Through working with organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Foundation and Testa Della Corsa Cycling, Soles provides veterans with the training and materials they need to make positive changes.
“In the military we all take an oath to defend our country and brothers,” Soles says. “This oath is for life and these wounded vets are my brothers.”
On Oct. 30, Soles and other members of Team X-T.R.E.M.E. will honor double amputee Lance Cpl. Michael Boucher by doing the Marine Corps Marathon on hand cycles. Soles and Sgt. Ryan Major, also a double amputee, plan on doing 26.2 miles on hand cycles prior to the actual marathon, in gas masks, which will set a Guinness World Record — a third such record for the team. Then they’ll join Boucher, who will sky dive to the start line, to begin their second marathon of the day. Upon completion, Major will present the Guinness World Record to Boucher on behalf of Team X-T.R.E.M.E.
“We are warrior athletes and this is a unique way to capture the hearts and minds of the American people,” Soles says. “This is our platform. This is why we’re soldiers.”