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Ethan Bennett is counting down to ‘Run to Fight’

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Posted: Friday, April 13, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:22 am, Fri Apr 13, 2012.

Woodbridge native Ethan Bennett has just a few days left to rest up before he takes off on the longest run of his life.

You might expect him to be quaking in his Ahnu running shoes. But the 23-year-old says he's feeling pretty good.

"I'm not really that nervous. I'm just ready to get it started," said Bennett.

He calls it the Run to Fight.

Bennett took up running to deal with stress when his mother Susan Bennett fell ill from colon cancer.

When she passed away from the disease in 2006, he knew he had to do something more.

Running from New York on April 21 to San Francisco on July 28 allows him to raise money and awareness about cancer research.

He hopes to donate $500,000 to Livestrong, an organization that provides support to people affected by cancer.

If he follows the schedule, Bennett will run 3,289 miles in about 97 days. That means two 20-mile runs a day, with a break in between for lunch and some rest.

Bennett sold his Jeep and purchased a 22-foot long RV wrapped in logos to bring on his journey. The vehicle can hold enough supplies to go five days without restocking.

A few new sponsors have come on board, including UGG Australia and BTB Sport Optics sunglasses.

The RV is packed and ready for Bennett and girlfriend Whitney Henderson, 23, to hit the road for New York City this weekend. As an experienced runner with a cross country journey under her own belt, Henderson is the perfect support for Bennett on the road.

In 2011, she ran from Florida to California to raise money and awareness for two charities: CharityWater.org and Soles4Soles. She will drive the RV about 15 to 20 miles ahead to set up camp in each city and spread the word about the run.

The pair are looking for a husky puppy to bring along as a team mascot, but no luck yet.

She offered some simple advice to keep Bennett on track. He just needs to keep picking up his feet, stay positive and to keep the light of his mother in his heart, she said.

"This is a dream for him. It's a great goal for him to reach. Instead of focusing on the end, he needs to stay focused on the journey," said Henderson.

Along the way, Bennett hopes to share his mother's story with as many people as possible.

When the going gets tough, he will think back on her struggles with cancer.

"I'll think of the hard times we were going through with my mom. People shouldn't have to go through that," he said.

The team hasn't planned on specific sites to camp each night, or even which cities they'll stop in.

But what they have planned on is meeting interesting strangers and preparing for a speaking tour to track each of their runs this fall.

First, they have to start this run.

Bennett and Henderson are both feeling positive about the adventure.

"I feel very privileged and very excited for this journey. I just want to be there for him every step of the way," she said. "I couldn't be more proud of him."

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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