Norman Forbes can now say he ran from the Madison County line to the Jefferson County line.
Running on the shoulders of U.S. 67, it took the 43-year-old Farmington Correctional Center caseworker just five hours to make it through St. Francois County.
He was one of about 70 runners to participate in the St. Francois County Law Enforcement Torch Run which was held Wednesday morning to raise money for the Special Olympics.
Desloge Police Chief James Bullock said it has been held in the county every year since at least 1994. Although, the chief and his brother, Sheriff Dan Bullock, joked that they have run the entire route, Chief Bullock admitted Forbes is the first to run the entire 30-plus-mile torch run.
“He’s loco,” one fellow runner said after Forbes completed the race.
But they were very proud of him. Forbes was given a round of applause from fellow runners after completing the run.
“He’s my hero,” one runner said.
“He calls everyone ‘my friend’ and he is everybody’s friend,” another said.
Forbes runs at least 20 miles three times a week. The furthest he has run is 36 miles and that was 16 years ago. Last year, he ran 22 miles of the Torch Run.
Forbes said he started to get cramps about the time he reached St. Francois State Park. In his mind, he was thinking that he could not go back to the Farmington Correctional Center and have to tell people he couldn’t do it. Instead he wanted to say, “‘The Terminator’ did it again.”
Not surprisingly, the exercise dehydrated Forbes and he fainted just minutes after completing the run. His friends tended to him, giving him water while Chief Bullock called for an ambulance.
Forbes sat in the ambulance talking about his experience while the ambulance crew monitored him and gave him liquids. After a few minutes, Forbes said he was ready to go to Ryan’s Family Steak House in Farmington to eat.
Half of the money he raised will go to Special Olympics while the other half will go to the prison’s Make A Difference Committee.
Forbes plans to do it again next year.
This year, the torch run included 26 from the prison in Bonne Terre, 31 from the Farmington Correctional Center, one from Potosi Correctional Center, five from the Farmington Police Department, two from the Desloge Police Department, two from the Sheriff’s Department and one from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Farmington prison staff took turns running from Farmington to Bonne Terre while Bonne Terre prison staff took turns running from Bonne Terre to the Jefferson County line.
Many of the prison staff members were Emergency Squad members who used the run as a way to prepare for the physical training they have to do in June.
Some ran a quarter of a mile, some ran a mile and some ran several miles.
Sgt. Bill Choate of the Missouri State Highway Patrol started the run with Forbes at 6 a.m. Choate ran 10 miles from the Madison County line to Route W.
Major Mike Guerin ran for the Eastern Reception Diagnostic Center in Bonne Terre. He told the sheriff he was “getting too old for this.”
Guerin said the run went well and there were no casualties. He was happy the weather cooperated this year.
Chief Bullock, who led the police escort, was also happy with the way things went.
“It was a good day,” he said. “Everything went smooth. There were no problems whatsoever. Everyone cooperated and there were no problems on the road.”
The Torch Run is held all over the state. It began 20 years ago.
In 1986, the Torch Run had 87 runners from 35 agencies. They ran 30 miles from Columbia to Jefferson City and raised $15,000.
More than 900 runners from 100 police agencies from across the state will participate in the 2005 Torch Run. This week, these runners will complete 34 different routes and cover 950 miles across Missouri.
The guiding purpose of the event is to raise funds and awareness for over 14,000 athletes who participate in the Missouri program.
They are attempting to raise $1 million by selling Torch Run T-shirts and organizing special events throughout the state. The State Special Olympics Summer Games is being held at the University of Missouri-Columbia campus this week.
Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental disabilities. More than 14,000 athletes participate in 19 Olympic-type sports throughout the state.
Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community.
The two local prisons are big supporters of Special Olympics year-round.
Jim Pounds said last year, Farmington Correctional Center raised about $5,000 through several fund-raisers including the Torch Run, a winter Polar Bear Plunge in the Lake of the Ozarks, a golf tournament, and an airplane pull contest in Chesterfield.
He said that was a 250 percent increase over last year’s fund-raisers.
Last year, the prison in Bonne Terre raised about $4,500. This is their second year participating.