Overcoming Obstacles: Local Man With Autism Is Running in the Boston Marathon

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Update: John Almeda’s official race time was 3:52:03. Congratulations!

Pedro is in the studio with John Almeda, John’s mom Vanessa Bieker and John’s coach Darren Morgan of Fleet Feet Racing learning all about John’s journey as an accomplished runner.

Fly Brave Started in 2016 after seeing a need when John, who has non-verbal autism, was aging out of the school system at 22 years old. I began searching for employment opportunities that met his interests, social outlets, and community involvement to continue his growth and steps to independence into adulthood. 

We found his gift of running in 2014 when we were out for a walk and stumbled upon a high school track. John experienced the normal pains of puberty and our evening strolls gave him a sense of calm.  However, this time he was different. After running around that track several times, his anxiety lessened and instead of getting up throughout the night, he slept a full 8 hours uninterrupted. 

He joined the Sacramento County Chargers Special Olympics Track and Field team and wowed the community with his 5 minute mile. He went on to run in 5/10k races, half marathons, 20 milers and eventually his first full marathon, CIM, (California International Marathon), on Dec 3, 2017, in hopes to Boston qualify.

John sustained a broken ankle during the marathon around mile 6. Yet, he was determined to finish and he did. Despite his injury, he qualified for the Boston Marathon, completing the 26.2 mile race in 4 hours and 27 minutes.

December 2, 2018, John ran CIM once again to upgrade his time for Boston and finished in 3:17!

(You can follow his run by texting “Runner” to 234567. John’s bib number is 7901)


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