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Runner's Marathon Quest Ends

Tom Jones of Huntington Beach fulfills his goal of crossing the U.S. by logging 26.2 miles a day.


On the 125th day, he rested. Kind of.

Huntington Beach's Tom Jones completed the New York City Marathon on Sunday, the final leg of his near-sprint across America. Since July 4, the Cal Ripken of marathon runners logged 26.2 miles every day in a quest to raise $250,000 for underprivileged children.

Back home Monday, Jones, 37, was about to lace up his Nikes for a short run, "maybe eight or 10 miles."

"It's better to keep the ball rolling than to reinvent the wheel," he said.

Jones, a high school dropout, born-again Christian and former kick-boxing world champion who works as a personal trainer, said he heard a calling from God three years ago to raise money for needy children by running extreme distances.

Since then, he has run the length of California twice, in addition to the 3,170 miles across the United States. In the process, he has raised more than $200,000 and handed out thousands of backpacks and school supplies from sponsors to children along the way.

"We did a wonderful thing," said Jones, who was reared in a Masonic home for girls and boys in Covina. "I feel fulfilled. It's a good thing for the children and good for me in a healing sense."

His Forrest Gump-like trek across America included energy-sapping runs through 111-degree heat in Death Valley and jogs through ice and snow in Pittsburgh.

Running experts were hard pressed to say just how unusual Jones' run was.

"It's not easy to put his feat into some sort of perspective," said Amby Burfoot, executive editor of Runner's World and a world-class marathoner. "It's a tremendous accomplishment. Why he did it, I can't begin to imagine. But to run a sub-four-hour marathon [3:50] at the end shows he's extremely fit, extremely disciplined and extremely smart."

Jones was busy working the phones Monday. There's talk of an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," a book and a fund-raising banquet. Jones said he is "seriously" close to a deal with Nike, which would match his fund-raising efforts dollar for dollar. And he still needs to collect the pledges made to his cross-country effort.

Jones gives the money to organizations that help neglected and abused children, including Orangewood Children's Home and the Masonic Home for Children, where he grew up.

"I'm not sure what exactly I will be doing next," Jones said. "But I will be running."

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