Dave Jones, of Madisonville, KY, will be the first to tell you that God has a sense of humor. He’ll also tell you how God used Dave’s desire to quit smoking to increase his faith beyond his wildest imagination.
“I had no idea when I decided I had to quit smoking in 2012 that the Lord would take me on a path that would eventually lead to setting a world record,” Dave admits. That 1,600-mile path to a world record qualifies Dave’s story as an iRony that points directly to God’s love for all of us.
Dave is an advisory board member for The Salvation Army in Madisonville. He and his family attend the corps for worship on Sundays; and, his mother is a soldier of that corps.
Six years ago, Dave weighed 285 pounds and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.
“I was hopelessly addicted to nicotine, so I decided to play this game with myself; which was basically deciding what I dislike the most and then use that as punishment,” Dave explains.
“Every single time that I got a nicotine urge, I stood up and took off running,” he says. “I still hate to run, but it’s gotten easier over time.”
That was October 2012. The more he ran, the less he craved nicotine, and the pounds began to melt off. These days, he tips the scale at about 195.
Calling his anti-nicotine strategy “my inner drill sergeant,” Dave quickly came to know a greater benefit than just breaking a nasty habit. His walk with the Lord has mushroomed beyond what he imagined possible.
“I’ve found that my life is all about surrender to God’s will,” he says. “His strength is made perfect in my weakness. The weaker I become, the more He is glorified!”
Dave completed two Iron-Man Triathlons in 2015 and 2016. And since 2012 he has run in countless marathons. His biggest challenge, however, came during 2017.
“I decided to run in marathons in all 50 states, and on all seven continents—eight if you count Zealandia,” (a newly-discovered land mass mostly submerged in the South Pacific Ocean). “And to qualify as a world record, all of my U.S. races had to be completed within 365 days; and, the seven continents within seven days!”
Covering all 50 states within the span of a year was challenging enough, but coordinating the 777 Quest (seven marathons on seven continents within seven days) proved to be—well, a marathon in itself.
Crisscrossing the globe within a week was barely possible by negotiating the various time zones. Beginning in Perth, Australia on January 25, Dave went on to run in marathons located in Singapore (January 26); Cairo, Egypt (27); Amsterdam, The Netherlands (28); New York City (29); Punta Arenas, Chile (30); and King George Island, Antarctica (31).
“I very nearly missed the Zealandia, but a fellow marathoner kept goading me to fly down to Auckland for a race fortunately scheduled for that last day.”
From the starting gun in Perth until the finish line in Auckland, 166 hours, 54 minutes, 11 seconds elapsed—a mere hour, six minutes and 49 seconds to spare of the 168 total hours in seven days!
“There were times when I had nothing left—my strength had to come from God!”
Dave’s faith has grown exponentially with each step, and his communion with God is deep like the oceans he’s crossed to make his testimony to the world relevant.
Dave founded his own extreme-sports company, called “Eternal Endurance.” He’s appeared on radio and television, and remains busy sharing his testimony to youth groups and churches around the world.
More important than running away from his addiction, Dave prefers to know that he’s been running toward a much deeper, closer, and intimate relationship with God.
— Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor, National Publications