"Having Josh and Ryan will be scary and fun at the same time," said Bedford, who arrived in San Diego on Wednesday from London. "It's great that someone of their calibre will be pacing a Joe like me! It's like that TV show Pro's Vs. Joe's. I might have to mess with them and do a Sammy Wanjiru by telling them they are too slow and too speed up!"
Tom's 2:25 Challenge began -- as so many bets do -- in a London pub after last year's London Marathon. Over a pint or two there was much discussion about the fact that no Brit had run under 2:25 that day. Tom said he could manage a sub-2:25 if he trained. Following the grand tradition of mocking any declaration delivered over a pint, Tom's father and friends instantly challenged his sanity and ability. Tom quickly asked if they'd like to make it interesting.
So the bet was made. Tom would have three years to fulfill his boast, and could run as many marathons as necessary to complete his goal. To further his chances and broaden his appeal, Tom asked that all bets against him go to the Entoto Foundation. San Diego will be his second attempt at the 2:25 Challenge. His first was a solid, but unsuccessful 2:33 at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. last fall.
"My 2.33 marathon at the Marine Corps marathon taught me lots," said Bedford. "For that race I only really did steady aerobic running so I am much fitter now but I made a few mistakes I can learn from. The main lessons are no tequila shots the days leading up to the race, no pizza and beer the night before and to take energy gels early on in the race. I also learnt about pacing and what hitting the wall feels like so I know what to expect in the later stages. I ran 69.30 for a half marathon in early March which is my PR. I'm a different athlete since I ran that, so hopefully I'm in shape to do the sub 2.25 here in San Diego!"
Tom will have the highest quality pacers on hand to guide him. 2008 Olympian Ryan Hall is the American record holder in the half-marathon (59:43), and third place finisher in April's Boston Marathon. Josh Cox set the American 50km record at this January's P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon.
"I know Ryan from when he ran in London, so having him pacing me will calm me down," added Bedford. "Ryan and Josh can share some of their experiences of running races in beautiful San Diego whilst I can tell them about all the great bars and clubs as we pass them downtown! But seriously, it shows they both have great hearts to help me raise money and awareness for the Entoto Foundation helping so many Ethiopian kids too much needed health care. All I need to do now is give them my running chip and maybe they can run the whole thing for me! That would make things much easier!"
The plan is for Josh to take Tom through half-way, and maybe tack on a few extra miles. Ryan will pick them up at 13.1 miles and go as far as 20.
"The other day Ryan emailed me a quote from Mother Teresa," wrote Josh to the Entoto Foundation. "It said, 'We can do no great things, only small things with great love.' That's the idea here. In the scheme of things running may be a small thing, but when we use running to impact a life we change the dynamic and transcend sport."
"We all have gifts; the greater the gift, the greater the responsibility and opportunity. Running is our gift and we want to use it to serve others and make the world a better place. Both Ryan and I have a heart for Africa and have been inspired by the work of the Entoto Foundation. We can't do everything but we can all do something; we're just trying to do our part."
To date Tom has over $26,000 pledged against him. To join in the fun and bet against Tom, go to the Entoto Foundation's website at Entoto.org.
Ryan Hall at the at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials (Courtesy Photo Run)
About The Entoto Foundation
The Entoto Foundation is dedicated to helping Ethiopians gain access to medical care and treatment that is otherwise not available to them. With only 1 doctor for every 40,000 people, Ethiopians have very limited or no access to medical care that most Americans would consider "basic." When essential medical procedures or treatments are not available within Ethiopia, the Entoto Foundation provides funds and logistical support for patients to obtain health care abroad. The Entoto Foundation was founded by Rich Jayne, Tim Murphy and Mike Long, friends and colleagues at Elite Racing, Inc. After many trips to Africa to film and recruit athletes for Elite Racing's various running events, Rich and Mike befriended many Ethiopians and saw firsthand how dire the medical conditions were there. They wanted to do something to help. The money Entoto raises helps pay for critical medical equipment, supplies, and medicine as well as the training of health care personnel in Ethiopia. For more information, please visit www.entoto.org.
About The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
In 2009, the original Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will celebrate its 12th year as San Diego's premiere running event. Annually one of the largest marathons in the country, the road race is still recognized for its record inaugural running that brought 15,771 participants across the finish line. The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon's official charity, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, has raised over $142 million through its endurance sports training program over the 12 year history of the race.
A two-day Health & Fitness Expo kicks off race weekend at the San Diego Convention Center on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. The expo is free and open to the public and is where all race participants pick up their race number, browse through fitness related products and attend informational clinics. Today, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series has spread to nine cities nationwide, creating the first national series of marathons and half-marathons. For more information about the race, please call 800-311-1255 or visit RNRMarathon.com.