The top level Ironman Triathlon racing is something that relatively few people on this earth have attempted. Fewer were completed.
Then there’s Justin True of Bend. The 30-year-old recently ran a 3,600-mile triathlon across the country. It was a mission to raise money and awareness for mental health.
It’s kind of like saying ‘How do you eat an elephant? Justin said.
“I’m a vegetarian, so maybe that’s not good,” he added with a chuckle.
Justin had one of the most ambitious or some might say crazy ideas to test his body, mind and soul.
“It started as a very small egg, and it eventually started to grow and grow and grow. Now it ends up being a 3,600-mile journey across the United States.”
“I was beaten growing up. Homeless sometimes and my dad kicks me out of the house with nowhere to go. Sleeping on park benches. I sleep in my friends’ pool sheds and embarrassed to tell anyone about it and talk about what was going on. My brother overdose 15 times growing up my mom was stabbed.
This is not life. I didn’t choose to be here. Why should I be here? None of us chose to be here. Why can’t I choose to quit and quit?
“So I tried. And I realized that’s not the way to go. Fortunately, I was able to fail twice and figure out I was meant to be here.
“I always had to do these challenges to keep myself busy. Keep in mind a goal of what I wanted to do.”
And what Justin wanted to do was inspire. Inspiring anyone who may be going through their own mental health issues and struggles. So on May 1st – the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month – Justin dived into the water and set out on his journey.
“I swam from Key Largo to South Beach Miami, making a 2,900-mile course from Miami to Belmont Park in San Diego. Then a 600-mile ride from Belmont Park to the Golden Gate Bridge.”
There were challenges and adversities along the way, but Justin’s message was consistent.
“No matter what highs or lows or lows you’re going through and don’t think it’s ever going to get better, just keep telling yourself ‘You’ll get better, you’ll get better’ and ‘Today may not be my day. Tomorrow may not be my day. There is a shark. The next day there are jellyfish that can kill me. Well, obviously this isn’t my day, but soon, I’ll keep fighting. I’m going to keep fighting for tomorrow and get hit by a car. Well, today is not my day. But I will continue to fight for that day that will make it all worthwhile.
“You never know when you will finally have that day when you are so happy you got there. And I wanted to inspire people by doing that where no matter what happens. Just keep fighting. Make it for tomorrow. Make that promise to yourself that if you reach tomorrow, it will be That’s OK. And if it’s not OK, make that promise again. And in the end, these will add up to 5, 10, 15 years and a life you’re proud of… you’ll stay on.”
He eventually ran across the Golden Gate Bridge, completing his journey just over six weeks after it began.
Justin has raised over $20,000 for mental health awareness, and most importantly, he’s proven to himself and anyone who takes notice that anything is possible.
“There is a reason for my brother to survive. There is a reason for my mother to survive. There is a reason for me to survive. I want to live to tell that story and I hope one person can connect somewhere out there and just know that everything will be okay no matter what happens. You need to keep it In your head. And in general, I just want to make my mother proud.”
Justin said it was the messages received on social media that kept him going. Anyone who reached out to him and said he was inspired or motivated to make a positive change in his life is what fueled him daily.
Justin hopes to write a book and release a documentary in the future about his experience.
For more information or to donate to his cause head to https://www.truetriathlon.org/