By Tamas Mondovics
Five months ago, FishHawk resident Army Sgt. Mike Morton, a member of the U.S. Ultramarathon Team, returned from Poland as the 24-Hour Run World Champion, stirring a sense of pride within the hearts of his friends, family, neighbors as well as the community.
Morton’s title included breaking the U.S. field record, adding to the win and setting several other running records over the last year.
But that was last year, and for a runner who set out to complete a race equivalent to running more than six marathons in a one-day period, averaging 7 mph for 24 hours straight, the sport is more than just a competition as each race is but a stepping stone for the next.
“For me running is a mental release,” he said after his last race. “It’s not about the competition but the love of the sport and the physical challenge along with the ultimate result of accomplishment.”
Morton, 42, is now gearing up and hopes to compete in several big races, which besides the physical preparation, also requires both emotional as well as financial support.
“We are trying to get sponsorship from local companies for Mike’s upcoming races,” said his wife, Julie.
She mentioned that each race has an entry free, travel costs, lodging costs and supply/aid costs, all of which adds up to a substantial expense.
Just last year, Mike’s achievement included him being named the 2012 Ultra Running magazine Ultra Runner of the year, on top of 2012 US Track and Field Ultra Runner of the Year, the 24-Hour World Champion; the first American male to ever win a World Championship Ultra distance event and setting a new American record of 172.45 miles ran in 24 hours.
Mike also was the 2012 Badwater 135 Champion with the fastest American time ever of 22 hours 52 minutes. The race crosses Death Valley in July with 120 degree temperatures while crossing three mountain ranges along the way.
“Mike will happily promote any business that would like to sponsor him as well as donate funds to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Team Red, White, and Blue,” Julie said.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation pays college tuition for children who has had a parent killed in action . Team Red, White, and Blue’s focus is rehabilitating veterans, active duty members, and families who are dealing with the psychological or physical wounds of war.
Businesses and all those interested in sponsoring or donating can contact Mike at MortonUltraRunner@yahoo.com.