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Colorado Springs Gazette

by RICH LADEN – THE GAZETTE – – Colorado Springs, Co.

How far will a business go to promote its product? Try 26.2 miles. Each day. For 26 straight days. It’s the sort of marketing stunt for which a public relations firm probably will receive a bonus. The maker of Accelerade, a powdered sports drink, introduced the beverage form of its product Monday in Colorado Springs by having a nationally recognized marathoner run 26.2 miles around the city. And that’s just the start. Jerry Dunn, a 57-year-old — yes, 57 — massage therapist from South Dakota will run 26.2 miles, or the length of a marathon, every day for 25 more days. The effort is pure public relations, said Dr. Robert Portman, chief executive officer of PacificHealth Laboratories Inc. of New Jersey, which makes Accelerade. “This will create awareness of the brand,” he said.

PacificHealth chose the Springs for the promotion because it ranked as the fittest city among the nation’s 50 largest municipalities in a survey last year by Men’s Fitness magazine. Likewise, Men’s Health magazine last year ranked the Springs as the nation’s seventh-healthiest city for men. The beverage form of Accelerade also was introduced Monday in San Diego, another city that scored high in the fitness rankings. In presenting the product in the Springs, however, PacificHealth hit upon the idea of hiring Dunn to conduct another of his running feats. Dunn, known as the nation’s “marathon man,” has been profiled by Sports Illustrated, the “Today” show and others. In 2000, he ran 200 marathons. In 1996, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon, Dunn ran marathons for 25 straight days leading up to the race’s anniversary. In 1991, Dunn ran the length of the United States.

During his next few weeks in the Springs, Dunn plans to run his 26.2 miles each day from 7-Eleven to 7-Eleven — the exclusive outlet for the ready-to-drink form of Accelerade.
He will follow 26.2-mile courses he mapped out before he got to the Springs. Dunn’s appearance is about what you’d expect: a lean and trim physique wrapped inside skin-tight running clothes.
His runner’s body says 25- to 30 years old, although his silver and gray hair underneath an Accelerade ball cap and his well-lined face say 57.

Dunn runs for a reason. An alcoholic, he quit drinking 20 years ago and says running substitutes for his previous addiction. But with a major winter storm forecast to hit Colorado Springs on Monday night and today, will Dunn keep his 26.2-miles-a-day pace? He plans to; after all, South Dakota has its share of nasty weather, too. On the other hand, Dunn said, if blizzardlike conditions strike, he might have to postpone his run for a day. “I’ll get out there and run,” Dunn said. But, he added, “I won’t risk my life for it.”