FARMINGTON — Drivers along U.S Highway 64 might have noticed a very peculiar sight on Christmas Day - two men in Santa Claus suits running alongside the snow-covered road in freezing temperatures.

Runner Tommy Danger and his driver Timothy Ettridge were making their way through the Four Corners as part of "More Than Just Miles," Danger's effort to run across the United States raising awareness for cystic fibrosis.

Danger found motivation for his journey after learning that a good friend's son was diagnosed with the chronic lung disease three years ago.

"I had no clue what it was. I never even heard of it. I thought it was something with the brain," Danger said. "A lot of people haven't heard of it, but bringing awareness, you realize it affects more people than you (think)."

Averaging 18 to 20 miles a day, Danger began his run in Seattle, Wash., on Sept. 13 and will end it in Daytona Beach, Fla., in April. Danger had previous experience, completing a cross-country bike ride in 2007 that started in the southwest and ended in the northeast part of the country.

"I wanted to get to the south as soon as possible because of the warmer weather," Danger said.

But Danger also ran into some issues while running near Monticello, Utah. Temperatures dropped below zero with snow and wind that limited him to only five miles one day.

"There was three feet of snow on the side of the road and semis speeding past me," he said.

As he approached Farmington Wednesday afternoon, Danger had clocked approximately 1,300 miles.


Advertisement

He ended the day in front of the Payless ShoeSource store at 725. W. Main St.

Earlier, the Travel Inn on W. Main donated a room after Danger stopped in the front office mid-run, sweating through the layers of running clothes and asking if the motel was wiling to help.

"We had struck out on several other hotels, I figured it was a chance," Danger said. "I had to leave my card because I was still in mid-run with a mile left.

"

Coming down from Colorado to Shiprock, Danger and Ettridge had slept the previous three nights in their van on a custom-built bed Ettridge installed in the vehicle.

Ettridge volunteered last minute to act as Tommy's driver after the original driver dropped out. A retired graphics designer, Ettridge originally signed up for three months. But after being on the road, he decided to finish the run.

"I realized three things," Ettridge said. "Number one, I was having fun. Number two, I couldn't think of anything else were I would be as productive as this and number three, (Danger) wasn't sure his second-half driver would be reliable, so I told him, I'll do it.'"

Danger starts his day updating the More than Just Miles Facebook page and website and replying to messages from people afflicted with cystic fibrosis and their family members.

Ettridge helps by finding coffee, washing laundry and taking care of other errands and tasks before Danger conducts his daily run.

The men were thankful for a hot shower at the Travel Inn as the next stretch of road down U.S. 550 will have them camping in parking lots and along the side of the road.

While Danger and Ettridge will solicit hotels and motels near their destination in populated cities for a room, they prefer donors send all their money to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"We can sleep in the van," Danger said.

Danger said the biggest obstacle was overcoming the mental block of exhaustion and focusing on the positive.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) was a rough day, I wrote in my blog (that) I didn't want to run. I was giving myself all these excuses like, I ran on Christmas Day, I get a day off or my ankle is killing me,'" Danger said. "Whether it's weather or a mental struggle or pain, it will never compare to what anyone with cystic fibrosis deals with everyday. They go through breathing treatments and handfuls of pills every single day so they can breath and digest their food."