'Push those boundaries': Man set to run 4 marathons in 24 hours
Published Saturday, October 15, 2016 1:52PM EDT
A Toronto man is aiming to complete four marathons in 24 hours this weekend, all in the hopes of raising awareness about sexual violence and inspiring survivors.
Jean-Paul Bedard is lacing up his shoes starting Saturday afternoon, with the aim of covering nearly 170 kilometres by Sunday evening.
He starts his first marathon at 2 p.m. ET, followed by an early evening marathon and yet another that begins after midnight. On Sunday, he plans to run in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
To prepare for his marathon feat, Bedard has been running 200-230 kilometres a week for the last six months.
Bedard’s goal is to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse, and let victims know they’re not alone.
His own experience of sexual violence as a child is part of the reason Bedard became a runner in the first place.
“For most of my life, I had this very fractured relationship with my body and that’s a very common experience for survivors of sexual violence,” Bedard says.
After battling drugs and alcohol, the husband and father said he sobered up and then “found” running as a way to “not only connect to my body, but also allow me to explore that strength that I had inside of me.”
Long-distance running, Bedard says, allows him to “push those boundaries that I have within me.”
It was only three years ago that Bedard “found the strength” to disclose to his wife and adult son that he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
“It was something I had spent most of my life keeping secret.”
After disclosing the experience to his family, he began attending a peer-led support group at The Gatehouse, a Toronto-based organization that helps those affected by childhood sexual abuse.
Bedard credits the organization with helping him rebuild his life and connecting him with other survivors of sexual abuse.
“I would say it saved my life.”
He hopes his “quadruple marathon” creates a dialogue among people “around the prevalence” of sexual violence in society.
“But more importantly," he says, "it’s showing other survivors of sexual violence that we are a lot stronger than we think we are.”