“I just wanted to be able to run 1 mile on a treadmill,” remembers J.P. Caudill. “I thought to myself, ‘I hate running, but let’s see what happens.’”
More than 10 years have passed since the independent IT consultant and Virginia Beach resident overcame his 1-mile hurdle. Caudill now serves as a certified running coach and boasts a track record of more than 180 races ranging from local 5Ks and half-marathons to the Grand Canyon’s famed Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) and the arduous World Marathon Challenge.
Caudill’s interest in running was sparked during a family trip to Germany in 2007, the same year his grandmother lost her battle to pancreatic cancer. It was during family strolls through his grandmother’s hometown that Caudill noticed his lack of endurance. “I felt so ridiculously out of shape,” says Caudill. “I came home after a day of walking around town with my back torn up, but it was just the nudge I needed to do something.”
His running pursuits began when he returned to the States, where he successfully completed his first race in February 2008, a Bells Mill 6K in Chesapeake, followed by six additional races that same year. The once-foreign running world full of bibs, sign-up forms and training schedules has not only become Caudill’s second home, but his platform for philanthropy.
When Caudill first discovered the World Marathon Challenge in December 2015, he began brainstorming ways to make his participation influential. By 2016, he had submitted his race application for the 2018 World Marathon Challenge and set a fundraising goal of $10,000 to benefit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
"I knew I wanted to take on the challenge, but I wanted it to be more meaningful. It seemed like perfect timing too, with my grandmother having passed away 10 years earlier and my 10th anniversary as a runner,” says Caudill.
To prepare for the monumental race, which requires runners to finish seven marathons on seven continents in just seven days, Caudill’s training increased tenfold. He remembers running 90-mile weeks through Oceanfront neighborhoods, down the boardwalk and on numerous Coastal Virginia trails. He even participated in back-to-back marathons to simulate the trying conditions of the global run.
Adding an extra challenge to Caudill’s running regime was his recent adoption of Luna Sandals. After a 96-mile adventure run through Costa Rica in January 2017 that rendered his feet blistered and bruised, Caudill swapped his trainers for the innovative running flip-flops. Although the ultra-marathoner draws quizzical stares for his choice in footwear, he claims sandals are as equally effective and comfortable as high-end running shoes.
In addition to training, he launched a fundraising page through PanCAN and created a selection of hats, T-shirts, candles and other goods embellished with his JP Runs The World logo to sell to supporters. A beer aficionado, Caudill also partnered with the brewers at Gordon Biersch to craft a custom Golden Bock served in JP Runs The World pint glasses. Defying yet another goal, Caudill surpassed his initial fundraising target and collected a total of $11,000 for pancreatic cancer research.
Caudill departed for the World Marathon Challenge in February 2018 and finished each of the seven races in four hours or less. In his signature Luna Sandals, Caudill raced through the 23-degree weather of Novo, Antarctica then onto the trails of Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, UAE; Lisbon, Portugal; Cartagena, Colombia; and Miami, Fla.
By the time the team completed their races, boarded the charter plan, navigated airport security and shuttled to their hotel, downtime was limited. “I think over the entire week I had less than 20 hours of sleep,” recalls Caudill.
For Caudill, running is no longer about setting the fastest pace or competing in the most races, but about testing his limits and seeing the world. “I want to go out and be with people, see things and explore places that most people don’t. That’s what running has become for me over the years.”
Caudill will embark on his next international running adventure in 2020 for the Coastal Challenge Costa Rica, a six-day race that covers upwards of 146 miles of heavy rainforest terrain.
To read more about J.P. Caudill and his running adventures, visit JPRunsTheWorld.com.