Nearly Halfway There: We Check In With Chicago Man Running Around Lake Michigan

A Chicago man is running 1,100 miles around Lake Michigan to raise money for Alzheimer’s research in honor of his late grandmother.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Lee Thornquist, 26, has been running about 30 miles a day for more than two weeks now. He started in Chicago on March 14 with the goal of running around Lake Michigan in honor of his late grandmother, Harriet.

“Definitely think about my grandma a good amount, and any time someone comes up and asks us what we're doing,” Thornquist said when we caught up with him on Day 18 in Michigan.

Thornquist is running to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. As he racks up the miles, he also upped his fundraising goal to $55,000.

“I saw we were over like $30,000, and so I figured I may as well go for another big goal,” Thornquist said.

Thornquist admits the first 10 days of the trip were very challenging and he has walked more than he intended to. When he’s not running or walking, he rests in a rented RV.

His friend Riley and Riley’s dog, Arnold, accompanied him for the first two weeks on the road.

Now his friend Patti Littell is driving, in more ways than one.

“I try to do everything I can to keep it positive and keep him going,” Littell said. “It’s definitely tough because I know he's in a lot of pain.”

We asked him if he thought about quitting.

"Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, those, like I said those first 10 days were extremely difficult," Thornquist said.

He’s documenting the trip on social media, posting photos and videos, including one where he is running while covered from head to toe, with ski goggles on, to combat a brutal head wind.

“We've had a little bit of everything. We've had snow storms, rain, some sun,” Thornquist said of the various weather conditions he’s faced.

Thornquist fuels his runs with a 5,000-calorie vegan diet and makes sure to rest when he can, even fitting in dance breaks, despite his swollen ankles and feet.

Thornquist has taken one-and-a-half unplanned rest days, so he’s about two days behind his scheduled finish date of April 18, when he plans to return to where he started in Chicago.

“I’m very confident we'll finish. Again, not 100% sure if it'll be in the 36-day timeframe, but definitely within 38,” Thornquist said.

An online run tracker shows he’s nearly halfway there and Thornquist said he has no plans of giving up now.

Contact Us