Above: Goddard senior Johnathon Parnell, center, competes in the Austin Spartan Super obstacle course race on May 20 in Austin, Texas. Parnell will attempt to run from Roswell to Albuquerque in 48 hours beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. (Submitted Photo)
Below: Johnathon Parnell
For many Roswellites, the three-hour drive to Albuquerque is short enough for a fun weekend getaway.
For Goddard senior Johnathon Parnell, the 200-mile trek to the Duke City is his weekend getaway.
Friday at 5 p.m., Goddard senior Johnathon Parnell will attempt to run from his front door to roughly the Albuquerque city limits, specifically the “Aluminum Yucca” scuplture alongside I-40.
“It actually was as simple as him saying he was going for a run,” said Parnell’s father, Timothy. “I asked how far he thought he could run and he didn’t know where to run. I knew the highway to Albuquerque would just be a long, fairly straight road and I figured he’d get somewhere around a half-marathon to marathon distance. He said he wanted to run all the way.”
Parnell did the research, consulting with his family physician about the best time to run, pace and nutrition, and putting together a plan involving a rotating crew of family and friends that will drive the support vehicle.
Some parents might be more hesitant about their teenager attempting such an extreme distance during the hottest part of the year, but Parnell’s passion for running began years ago when his father needed a simple activity for his high-energy 7-year-old.
“Instead of telling him to go play in the backyard, we’d go find a dirt road and let him run,” said Parnell’s father. “I have no idea how much of this run came from letting him run as a kid.”
During the school year, Parnell gets his running fix through football and track, but with class out for the summer, he turned his attention to something a bit less traditional — Spartan obstacle course races.
Parnell recently completed the Spartan Trifecta, accomplished by finishing the three Spartan distances. He completed the 3-mile, seven-obstacle Sprint in Houston, the 9-mile, 25 obstacle Super in Austin and the 14-mile, obstacle-stacked Beast in Montana.
Timothy said he ran the Sprint with his son, but quickly realized he couldn’t keep up.
“He got more of a workout from throwing me over all the obstacles than he did from running the race himself,” he said. “So I promoted myself to cheerleader/driver/sponsor.”
Timothy said he’s happy to see his son confident and focused on his goals, no matter how crazy they might sound to an outsider.
“I think the biggest challenge with humans as a whole is we do not think we can do as much as we can do,” he said. “His attitude is that there is no reason why he can’t run to Albuquerque. The more large goals that you can accomplish, the more you can look back, later in life and say, ‘Look what I’ve done, you can’t tell me no!’”
The Parnells, along with family friends — the Martinezes — have been preparing for the journey all week, gathering supplies, finalizing the route (they will turn left at Vaughn and go through Estancia up to Moriarty where he will complete the trek along the old Route 66) and discussing safety concerns.
Besides weather and terrain, time will also work against Parnell as the crew has agreed to stop at 5 p.m. Sunday, giving the teenager just 48 hours to complete his 200-mile run.
Parnell’s weekend getaway might not be as relaxing as most would prefer, but in the end, it should be a lot more satisfying than a trip to Cliff’s.
Those wanting to wish Parnell well as he departs Roswell should gather near the mall or Chisum Travel Center (Price’s Truck Stop) on North Main Street shortly after 5 p.m.