CLEVELAND (WJW) – Jake Farren is called “Little Nasty” but not for the reasons you may think. He could throw a nasty curveball when he was a teen, so the name stuck. These days, he wears a wicked pair of flag socks and shorts.
He’s also running across the United States, and says he wanted to take the flag with him.
“A couple of buddies of mine talked about pulling a ‘Forrest Gump’ and running across the country. I was the only one who stuck with it. A couple of them ran the marathon and said never again. I ran the marathon and said, ‘Give me more,'” Farren told WJW.
But running a “Forest Gump” is not about imitating a movie. To Farren, it’s running for a purpose. Farren is attempting to run U.S. Route 20 — the nation’s longest road, which starts in Boston and ends 3,365 miles away in Newport, Oregon — to raise awareness for mental health.
“Everybody’s got that place of darkness and if you could move a little bit every day you start to feel better about yourself, you start to feel better about the world, you start to feel better about the people around you,” he said.
Farren is very candid about his own struggles with mental health issues. He says his depression was crippling and he even attempted suicide, but running helped him look at life and depression a different way.
“I literally run every day, since July 29, 2013, coming up on my eight-year run anniversary,” he said.
Farren has been a fixture at all sorts of races for years, participating in 5K, 10K and marathon races, and even the FOX 8 Fox Trot. He credits his running community with supporting him and giving him the courage to step out and tackle this challenge. He says the community is all about helping others.
“If we can bring awareness about things that are going on in the community while getting some exercise in, it’s a plus for everybody,” said Steph Floss, the founder of the Run With the Winners running club that Farren has belonged to for seven years.
Farren will spend roughly 70 days on the road, with his parents following along in an RV. He hopes that his efforts will get people to think about ways to fight depression and find ways to get help.
He says that no one should have to run the race of life thinking they’re alone.
“I want everyone to be the best versions of themselves and by being the best version of me I’m hoping to coax that out of them,” Farren said.
He plans to begin his run in Boston on Father’s Day and cover an average of 50 miles a day, finishing the run in about 70 days.
Supporters can follow his journey on Instagram.