Gwen LeTutour strains against the laces on his large, cumbersome firefighting boots, pulling the leather tight against his intricately tape-wrapped feet and ankles. He shrugs on his heavy black and neon coat and fastens the clasp on his helmet that is proudly brandished with a logo reading “Plant Positive.”
Patting his pockets to check for his refueling food and taking a swig from his handheld water bottle, he walks along the rows of fire engines toward the exit. As the door swings open, beams of light flood the building. He saunters into the fresh air.
He breathes deeply. Today is the last long training run before his attempt to set a world record.
LeTutour and his wife, Katie Adams, came up with the idea for him to attempt to run 100 miles in full firefighter gear in their hometown while on one of their regular trail runs in the mountains above Sandpoint.
As ambassadors for healthy eating and living, the couple founded their nonprofit Plant Positive to encourage people to make choices that are good for their bodies and the planet. They demonstrate the joy and ease of prioritizing their health by being pillars of the running and fitness community.
Once the couple learned about American Institute for Cancer Research’s findings that nearly 50 percent of most cancers can be prevented through personal choices like diet and exercise, they knew they had to do something big to spread awareness.
Having both competed in regular ultraruns (races with a distance longer than a marathon), both being 100-mile run finishers, and with LeTutour being a volunteer firefighter on the side, the idea for the attempt didn’t take long to form.
They knew of others attempting runs in firefighter gear, but discovered that no one had finished 100 miles in the turnout while also wearing the firefighting boots. Made for short-distance agility and extreme weather protection, the boots will make it even more challenging.
But for LeTutour, every bit of challenge is worth his motivation.
“Every year, half a million people die from cancer. So if 50 percent can be prevented, that’s a quarter million people that we could maybe save,” he said. “That is something to me that is so important, especially as a firefighter. The reason I am a firefighter is because I want to help people – I want to save lives. Here is an opportunity to save a quarter million people in the U.S.”
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), which is partnering with LeTutour and Adams for their event, is shifting the focus of the American cancer discussion from cancer fighting to cancer preventing.
AICR has released 10 lifestyle choices on its website that have been proven to increase vitality and reduce the risk of a large portion of many major cancers.
These 10 cancer prevention recommendations include increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing red meat intake, avoiding processed meat, and enjoying a plant-based diet.
“You don’t have to be sick. You don’t have to wait in line for terminal illness. There is something you can do about it. And the time to start is now,” sais AICR’s Andrew Saul, Ph.D.
LeTutour and Adams, through their Plant Positive platform, have been demonstrating how fun and easy healthy living can be once you get the hang of it.
They recommend starting small, focusing on simply increasing the amount of whole foods you put into your body, like fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains, and decreasing the amount of processed foods and animal products you intake.
A good strategy includes beginning trying to change one meal a day to one packed solely with cancer-fighting foods, or all of the meals in a day, one day a week. Gradually increasing the frequency of these meals, in combination with regular exercise, is the best way to transition to a cancer-preventing lifestyle.
To demonstrate the functionality of a cancer-preventing diet, LeTutour will be fueling his entire 100-mile run just with cancer fighting foods. There will be a booth open to the public at his aid station where he and Adams are encouraging people to come sample the health-packed foods for themselves.
The event will take place in Sandpoint beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday from the Sandpoint Fire Station and will likely finish sometime between 4 and 9 p.m. Sunday at Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters in Sandpoint.
The course will consist of a repeated 10-mile loop between the Sandpoint and Dover fire stations, with LeTutour accompanied by at least two support runners.
The health food booth and aid station will be located inside the fire station and will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
In addition to stopping by the booth and cheering LeTutour on along his journey, participation is encouraged by joining Gwen on his final mile from the Sandpoint fire station to the Evans Brothers finish line while wearing boots of your own in solidarity.
All types of boots are encouraged, and participants are allowed to run, walk or bike alongside LeTutour on the final stretch. Updates on the run and timing for the final mile in boots will be posted regularly on the Sandpoint Online Facebook page.
More information on LeTutour and Adams, the world record attempt, a cancer-preventing lifestyle, and how you can get involved, can be found at their website, plantpositiverunning.com.
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