The ultimate challenge for a Gallant Few

James Creedon with his son, Emmett.

Photo/James Creedon

James Creedon with his son, Emmett.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — James Creedon, an Army reservist from McKinney, Texas, is one of only 50 Americans selected to run in the Grand-to-Grand Ultra, a 170-mile, 6-day self-supported stage race on foot through the Grand Canyon from Sept. 24 – 30, 2017. 

Creedon, an Army officer and graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, is running to call attention to the needs of transitioning veterans and to raise funds for the charitable organization GallantFew.

According to its website, the core focus of GallantFew is one-on-one mentoring by a veteran with a veteran.  The mentor, or guide, can share lessons learned on active duty and during the transition back to civilian life, with the idea of preventing veterans from becoming isolated and frustrated.

It is 37 percent more likely for Global War on Terror veterans to be unemployed than a person who never served and 22 veterans take their lives every day, according to the organization’s website. By providing peer support and access to health services GallantFew is doing its part to assist veterans/address the unmet needs and lower these statistics.

Creedon started training in September 2016, immediately after completing his first 50-kilometer trail race.  James plans to perform more than 500 hours of training to properly prepare for the unexpected challenges of the Grand-to-Grand Ultra. Creedon credits his Army career for helping build his running skills, forcing him to push his body to the limit.

“This is my first time attempting a self-supported stage race” says Creedon.  “The entire journey of this Grand-to-Grand challenge will speak to many aspects a soldier faces while transitioning from the military to include emotional, spiritual, and physical fitness. I hope to bring light to the struggles veterans face and let them know there are avenues for help if needed.”

Creedon’s completed a mountain 50K in April, a 50-mile race in June and a self-hosted trail marathon series near his home, building up to the ultimate challenge later this month. Creedon chronicles his training and preparation on his website, www.fightharder.org.

“The Grand-to-Grand Ultra is, by far, the biggest and longest race I’ve ever attempted,” he said. “I can’t assure anyone that I know what every stage will bring, or begin to explain how I’ll overcome every difficulty I’m sure to encounter. I do know, however, that my fellow veterans have overcome far greater challenges: recovering from physical or emotional injury, returning to civilian life after decades in the military, or taking risks to make their lives better even if they don’t have the final plan worked out.”

Karl Monger, executive director of GallantFew, says local communities need to take responsibility for reintegrating veterans into the community.

“For real, lasting change in the challenges facing veterans, local communities have to take responsibility,” he said. “The more our communities understand about the five points of veteran fitness, the better they will be able to assist veterans as they transition home. Volunteers like James are critical to educating and motivating people in their communities.”

More information about supporting Creedon and about his journey can be found at www.fightharder.org.

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