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Health Hero Jonathan Terrell—The Man Who Ran 7 Marathons In 7 Days—Shares What Makes His Spirit Unbreakable

Jonathan Terrell’s motto is “Show up. Enjoy the journey. Never give up.” It’s clear that the 55-year-old walks (or runs!) his talk given that he completed the World Marathon Challenge this past February—a grueling race that has participants run 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. A connection to a higher purpose is one motivating factor that kept Jonathan in the running. In the months leading up to the challenge, he raised over $300,000 for the pediatric mental health department at Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC. His personal connection to God as a practicing Catholic as well as his love of his wife and 2 sons also motivated Jonathan to keep taking strides towards the finish line.

While Jonathan’s indomitable athletic spirit comes easily to him nowadays, there were times when it seemed he lost his way. As a kid growing up in London, he swam, ran cross country, and played sports such as soccer and cricket. But when he moved to New York City at age 26, he found that the Wall Street work ethic left very little time for either athletic pursuits or even hitting the gym. He left New York City after 13 years, moved to Paris for 1 year, and then resettled in Washington DC, where he married his wife at age 39. As a business owner building a management consulting firm, husband, and soon-to-be father, Jonathan was no longer focused on his own health—which took a nosedive for nearly a decade.

At age 48, Jonathan was the heaviest he’d ever been and his lethargy left him feeling miserable. Then he took a fall and fractured his foot. His doctor discovered that Jonathan had full-blown osteoporosis due to his sedentary lifestyle. Jonathan’s vitals also indicated he had high blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep apnea, and acid reflux. It was then that Jonathan’s “never give up” spirit was revived. When the following new year’s eve rolled around, he made a resolution to get into the best shape of his life—as he wanted to live long enough to see his children grow up.

Jonathan recalled a friend of his running a marathon and he was inspired by his friend’s achievement. So Jonathan signed up for the Marine Corps Half Marathon—training in secret at first before revealing his fitness challenge to his family. When he completed the half marathon in Fredericksburg, VA, he was immediately hooked and the next day he signed up for the full marathon. Once he completed that, he signed up for the London marathon—kicking off a cadence of 4 marathons a year.

A few years into his marathon cycle, he saw participants competing in the Nation’s Escape Triathlon. The skill and competition of a triathlon piqued his interest. So he signed up for the following year’s Nation’s Escape Triathlon—which ended up being a biathlon as the swim portion was cancelled. But that didn’t bother Jonathan—he was now hooked on triathlons.

In 2015, he did 2 half Ironmans and 1 full Ironman and he has been a committed triathlete and marathon runner since. In fact, after completing the grueling, hilly Ironman Lake Placid, he felt like he could have run 10 more miles—which indicated to him that there was a greater challenge he had yet to face.

That’s when he decided to tackle the World Marathon Challenge. Again, he began to train in secret at first—but he quickly decided to go big with his fitness goal. He started the website Take The Risk, which not only documented his training but also helped raise over $300,000 to support children’s mental health. When the time came to run, Jonathan found he was more than prepared for the challenge—which took him across 16 time zones in just 7 days. His years of endurance training coupled with his determination and commitment to a greater cause were what kept him going mile after mile.

Although completing the World Marathon Challenge is a huge accomplishment, it seems Jonathan is now having to draw upon his unbreakable spirit once more. Unfortunately a few months after completing the challenge, Jonathan was hit by an SUV while cycling. He was airlifted to the hospital and spent 18 days there. Miraculously, he survived and he has even forgiven the driver who hit him, even though they have never met. Jonathan is now in recovery for his broken back and hip—and while his orthopedist said Jonathan might not compete in a triathlon again, Jonathan’s reply was, “I’ll dedicate my next Ironman to you. Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” Jonathan’s goal is to compete in his next Ironman within a year.

Jonathan considers himself an athlete now, and he will do whatever it takes to get moving once more—even if he focuses on endurance swimming only. He is grateful to be alive and to be able to see his boys—now 12 and 14—grow up. Before the accident, Jonathan purchased life insurance with Health IQ.

When asked what prompted his decision to go with Health IQ, Jonathan said, “As a parent and business owner, having life insurance was important to me. But given my commitment to health, I could never understand why my rates were so high. I thought I was paying more than I should have been, given my healthy, active lifestyle as a runner and triathlete. I saw the Health IQ ad asking, “Can you run an 8-minute mile?” and I thought, “Hell yes!” The underwriting experience was quite different and very personal, which I appreciated. They took an athletic biography of me—how many marathons and triathlons I’d run. Health IQ was able to get me a far better rate than the coverage I had. I replaced all my existing life insurance with a much larger policy—almost twice as much coverage—thanks to Health IQ. I would unreservedly recommend Health IQ.”

We at Health IQ are inspired by your unbreakable spirit, Jonathan. We are proud to have you as a client, wish you a full and speedy recovery, and will be cheering you on from the sidelines as you show up, enjoy the journey, and never give up during your next Ironman.

ABOUT HEALTH IQ

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