Last Christmas Eve, Masumi Herota took a one-way train ride to Savannah, got off at the station and proceeded to try to run the 126 miles back to his North Charleston home.
He almost made it.
“I got to West Ashley around 4 in the morning, sat down in a gas station, ate a hot dog and called a friend to come pick me up,” recalls Herota, a 41-year-old sommelier who is looking for work in Asheville, N.C.
The adventure of that sort wasn’t the first for Herota, who is far from a conventional runner.
Herota has never done a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon. He pretty much skipped over those races for “ultra” challenges, particularly solo point-to-point runs. (Ultras are considered distances longer than a marathon.)
“The purest essence of an ultra is doing it outside of organized events with no spectators, no T-shirts, none of that,” says Herota. “It (ultra runners) is a different community altogether. There’s a complete lack of ego in it. Those who bring ego are likely to be shunned.”
One major reason he does these runs is because Herota battles depression and he uses running as his natural antidote to the disease. Yet he still struggles, noting that he contemplated suicide in August 2014.
“Running is my medication,” says Herota, noting that the type of running he practices is more meditative than competitive.
Yet in his first ultra race, a 50K in Savannah in January 2013, he finished ninth. Weeks later, he later finished second of 24 people in the 12-hour Delirium Run in Ridgeland, logging nearly 62 miles.
On Thursday, Herota will embark on a new challenge: running 72 hours around Park Circle as a fundraiser for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
He will start the run at 7 p.m. Thursday, as the North Charleston Farmer’s Market is wrapping up.
He chose the society because he had originally planned to run the event last year to honor an ex-girlfriend’s father who died of cancer.
“I’m revisiting the challenge and the charity,” says Herota.
Brandi Steward, senior manager of the local society’s Relay for Life, says she has “never come across with someone with such a unique idea” as running 72 hours straight and that the society is excited to partner with him.
“Some people host bake sales and some want to run for three days,” says Steward.
As of last week, Herota had raised less than $500 toward his goal of $10,000 but he’s hoping to get a boost from a couple of runners, ultra runners Brian Thomas and Sue Edwards of Florida.
Thomas is co-founder of Road Warriors and a cancer survivor who was recently featured in “Runner’s World” for running from Palm Beach, Fla., to Washington, D.C.
Edwards is an ultra runner now battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma
Herota, whose only anticipated breaks in the run will be short naps after 45 hours, invites locals to join him in running the almost half mile laps around Park Circle to honor loved ones with cancer.
“I want people to come out and run or walk, whether it’s one loop, a 5K or 12 hours,” says Herota, who anticipates logging 250 to 300 miles during the event.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.