Northeast Ohio athlete finalist in contest to appear on "Runner' - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Northeast Ohio athlete finalist in contest to appear on "Runner's World" cover

Three years ago, doctors told Justin he would never walk again. But this year-he far surpassed their expectations and ran the Boston Marathon. (Source: Justin Thomas) Three years ago, doctors told Justin he would never walk again. But this year-he far surpassed their expectations and ran the Boston Marathon. (Source: Justin Thomas)
Every time Justin laces up he defies the odds. (Source: Justin Thomas) Every time Justin laces up he defies the odds. (Source: Justin Thomas)
Justin has been running most of his life. (Source: Justin Thomas) Justin has been running most of his life. (Source: Justin Thomas)
ASHTABULA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) -

A Roaming Shores resident was told he may never walk again, but now he's running marathons. He also needs your help to get some national recognition.
 
Justin Thomas struggled for years to get back on the road and run races again. Now he's a semi-finalist in a nationwide search to be on the cover of Runner's World magazine.

He has a message he wants to share with others.
 
When Thomas laces up his sneakers, he’s in for a long run. And he takes mile after mile pretty fast.

He’s been running on and off for more than 20 years.
 
“At Olmsted Falls, I ran track and cross country,” he said.

However, a car accident sidelined him three years ago.
 
“We flipped seven and a half times at 70 miles per hour, and I was thrown out the passenger side. And ended up on the other side of the highway,” Thomas said. 

His back and hip were so badly hurt-- even walking again was a major challenge. 

“It was a very dark time of my life. I thought, 'why am I lying here, why me?’” Thomas said.

 Months after Thomas got out of the hospital, his brother-in-law pushed him to take a big step; asking him to run a marathon with him.
 
“I was like, 'no thanks,’” Thomas said.
 
Thomas wound up taking on the challenge. He trained and fought through the pain and eventually, he even qualified for the Boston Marathon which he ran this year.

Then Justin's friends encouraged him to enter a competition that could land him on the cover of Runner's World-- an honor for any runner.
 
“To be on the cover would really say something about overcoming adversity. I've had my ups, had my downs,” Thomas said. 

Whether he makes it or not, Justin hopes his running continues to take him far and inspires others.

“No matter what your dream is, no matter what's going on, there's no point in really stopping. Anything can happen,” Thomas said.

He made it to the top 100 out of 1,600 runners nationwide competing to be on the Runner's World cover. Two other runners from Northeast Ohio also made the cut.

You can read their stories and vote for who you’d like to see on December’s magazine cover HERE. 

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