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Do it for Justin: one Fort Wayne runner’s story

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (FORT WAYNE'S NBC) - Running is an exercise that seems so simple, yet for Steve Heim he needed an extra motivation to get started.

Heim, a Fort Wayne Running Club Board Member, explained how difficult the sport was at the beginning.

"It got to the point of two and a half miles, the first day I did it, I thought it was going to kill me," Heim said.

Steve worked his way up from a minute on the treadmill to two and a half miles.

After seeing his progress, Steve's wife Lori had an idea. She encouraged him to try his first 5K, called the Defender's Race.

"It was only 10 years after 9/11," Lori said.

"People still really remembered and wanted to honor our first responders and military. With our son-in-law being in Afghanistan, I said you really have to do this for Justin."

Justin served in the U.S. Army at the time, away from his family, so Steve and Lori bought a sign to put up during the race, and ran for him.

"When he first said he was going to do it, I thought of the quintessential couch to 5K kind of person," Justin Grant, a J3 Air Operations Chief at Special Operations Command South said.

"He's got such a positive, addictive personality, as soon as he said that's my goal, he was locked in on it."

"Here's a guy that in the middle of the desert, risking his life everyday, so I can wake up and be scared to run a 5K," Steve said. "Suddenly, the 5K didn't seem like that scary of thing to me."

"It's got humbling that they chose me as the initial motivator," Justin said.

"When I'm thanking them, it's not just from me, it's from all the people that we don't have anymore."

From honoring his son-in-law's service to a full blown hobby, Steve has now finished 8 full marathons.

"I'm still in love with the activity of running." Steve said.

And he's not stopping anytime soon.

Steve says he's still learning about the sport and encourages everyone to try it.

Learn more about the Fort Wayne Running Club by going to their website.

Megan Salle

Megan Salle is the Sports Reporter and Weekend Sports Anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC.

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