Lerman has one more ultra run in him, and it’s for the benefit of others
Published September 4, 2013
SOUTHFIELD — If there’s one thing Sheldon Lerman’s never been good at, it’s sitting still.
Whether he’s working as a letter carrier in the city of Detroit, as he has the past 28 years, or lacing up his running shoes for a jog, sprint or 100-mile adventure, the Southfield resident is always on the move.
And he has been as long as he can remember.
“I read once that birds were made to fly, fish were made to swim and people were made to run,” Lerman said with a laugh. “I guess I’ve always believed that. It may not be for everyone, but running is something I love.”
As a teen, he captained the cross country team at Detroit Cass Tech.
At 15, he ran his first Detroit marathon.
When the 26.2-mile trek wasn’t enough, he started doing ultra marathons — some 24 hours in the making, others covering 100 miles.
“People always ask me why I do these long runs,” Lerman, 50, said. “It’s just something I love to do.”
But the sun is now setting on that chapter of his life.
In 2012, while having an ultrasound to look for kidney stones, doctors detected an aneurysm in his iliac artery.
His condition was monitored, but the aneurysm continued to slowly grow, while opinions on his running habits quickly changed.
“Usually, this is diagnosed to people with high blood pressure, or high cholesterol or people who have smoked before,” Lerman said. “So it’s diet and exercise prescribed to help it. As for me, though, there hasn’t really been a consensus on what to do. One doctor said to stop running so much to ease the stress on my body. Another said the running wouldn’t affect it.”
Still, the unknown eventually forced Lerman to cut back, and now, commit to one final race, from the top of the state to the bottom, with the goal of raising at least $1,000 dollars to donate to Vascular Cures, a non-profit research organization focused on developing new treatments and cures for vascular disease.
So, on Sept. 11, he will lace up his shoes and begin a roughly 370-mile journey in Sault Ste. Marie, culminating, he plans, on Sept. 20 at the Michigan-Indiana border.
“It’s always something I wanted to do,” Lerman said of running across the state. “At the same time, I have a chance to bring awareness to aneurysms, and hopefully, help people with something they may not know about until it’s too late.”
With the help of family and friends carrying equipment and other essentials, Lerman said he hopes to cover roughly 36 miles every day. As of Aug. 28, he was still mapping out a route and planning hotel stops at night.
“Who knows where I will end,” he said with another laugh. “There are some places where you don’t even know you’ve crossed states. But once I hit the border, I’ll be done.”
About a week before he began, Lerman had raised about $700.
“I have no idea what to expect. It’s a little scary, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve been a little nervous ever since I decided to do it. But I’m looking forward to it. I think it will put a nice cap on my ultra-running career.”
So why go across the state? Why not do a final marathon, or even ultra marathon with other competitors?
“Too often, running is done to go in a circle, or get back to where you started,” he explained. “It’s fun sometimes to actually go somewhere when you run. You accomplish a little more. That’s something I look forward to. I’m setting out on one, final journey. And when it’s over, I’m going to miss it. I’ll have to find something else to do to keep busy.”
Anyone interested in making a donation to Lerman’s cause can visit his web site at www.clickhare.com. Links are posted to follow him on Facebook or make a direct donation to his journey.