Helene Neville, a grandmother and registered nurse, completed a 9,715-mile run, over more than 330 nonconsecutive days, around the perimeter of the United States earlier this month, finishing in Ocean Shores, Washington, Runners World reported Wednesday.
The 55-year-old started her unsupported journey around the country in 2010. She did it in stages: First, she ran from Ocean Beach, California, to Atlantic Beach, Florida. Over the next five years, she ran from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Tijuana, Mexico, and from Marathon, Florida, to Portland, Maine. Neville started the last leg of her journey in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, and finished 3,680 miles later in Ocean Shores, Washington.
Neville started running after overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the early 1990s. She used her first run across the U.S. to inspire other nurses to be better ambassadors for healthy living, frequently stopping in hospitals and cancer centers to visit health care workers and patients.
"Shortly into the run it became 'she’s a cancer survivor,' 'she’s over 50,' and people started to take notice and become inspired," Neville told Outside. "What started out as a way to get nurses healthy became more about everybody."
Toward the end of the last stage of the journey, Neville learned her cancer had returned, but she said that the diagnosis wasn’t going to slow her down.
"I think that if you stop or slow down, then you might as well sit down or fall down," she said. "I just want to lead by example and show that, no matter what you have going on, there’s always someone worse off and you’re still in a position to inspire someone."
Neville said she’s been approached with book and movie deals about the journey and plans to retrace her steps—this time by car—to visit those who took her in along the way or cheered her on to keep moving.