CARLSBAD — It started as a personal goal, a motivation tactic to stay in shape and reach a goal.
However, after becoming involved with the City of Hope and a scare with cancer, Carlsbad’s John Armentrout put a twist on his goal.
At 49, he is less than a month away from running his 100th half marathon before he turns 50 in September. However, after participating in a walk in support of cancer patients and survivors, Armentrout decided he wanted more from his quest.
He is aiming to raise $10,000 to donate to the City of Hope during the America’s Finest City half marathon Aug. 21 in San Diego.
“It kind of bookends, because it was the first one I did,” Armentrout said. “I just started running for fun.”
Although he has been running since 1999, it was a sibling rivalry that led to Armentrout’s goal. His twin brother ran first, and not wanting to be upstaged, he ran his own.
During one half marathon, Armentrout figured hitting 100 half marathons by his 50th birthday would be an impressive personal accomplishment.
But three years ago, his outlook on life changed when his wife Melissa noticed an odd mole on his back. Turns out, Armentrout was diagnosed with Melanoma.
“My wife said it doesn’t look good,” he recounted. “The dermatologist whispered in my ear ‘Your wife just saved your life.’”
Surgery removed a “golf-ball sized” chunk from his back. The successful surgery was tempered a little when a family friend, who was also diagnosed with cancer, was in Stage IV within 18 months, Armentrout said. Fortunately, the friend survived, but the experience of that and his own cancer changed the Carlsbad resident.
Melissa meanwhile, became involved with City of Hope, which provides a broad spectrum of services for people with all cancers.
She organized the Together4Hope walk/5K, a two-day, 40-mile fundraiser. During one of the walks is when Armentrout came up with his own idea to help others battling cancer.
“They are very close to raising $200,000 over five years for City of Hope,” he said. “Last year, I said, ‘I should make my 100th race a fundraiser.’”
Of course, the race to 100 wouldn’t be without further complications.
Armentrout broke his foot in March 2015 and then tore his meniscus in his knee.
After surgery, he picked up running again and has whipped out 15 half marathons since last Thanksgiving.
“I had all this mapped out … but when those happened I went ‘Wow, I just lost six months,’” Armentrout said. “I said, ‘let’s just make this happen.’”