The New York City Marathon was originally set to be run on Sunday, but it was of course cancelled due to COVID-19. A virtual race was held instead, and thousands of people participated, including Devon Lévesque of New Jersey, a wellness and fitness expert who completed the full 42.2K race on all fours, bear-crawling toward the finish line. Lévesque started his marathon on Friday and finished 20 hours and 48 minutes later, completing an incredible feat of strength and endurance that doubled as a fundraiser for FitOps Foundation, a nonprofit that supports veterans. Lévesque dedicated the bear-crawl marathon to his father, who died by suicide 12 years ago.
A bear-crawl marathon
Lévesque spoke with People Magazine before his bear-crawl marathon, which he was inspired to do after fellow fitness-junkie Ross Edgley (who once ran a marathon while towing a 3,000-pound car) suggested it. After spending the previous 12 months training specifically for the 42.2K bear crawl, Lévesque said he was ready for the gruelling test of endurance.
“I have been putting my body in an uncomfortable state for a long period of time so it adjusts to where I eventually become comfortable,” he said. “Just like people running a marathon for the first time, you have to put your body through uncomfortable states to familiarize it. I have had to do the same with bear-crawling.” On his Instagram page, Lévesque posted some of his training sessions, including treadmill crawls (some of which he completed at pretty quick speeds) and beach workouts. For one session, he bear-crawled on a beach for a mile with 30-pound dumbbells in each hand.
Lévesque told People about his father. “[His death] was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my entire life.” It wasn’t until about a year ago that Lévesque was finally able to cope with the loss of his father, which he said is what drives him to “bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention.”
Ahead of his virtual race, he had already raised $100,000, which was halfway to his ultimate goal of $200,000, all of which will be donated to FitOps. He said he wanted to support a cause that “hits home” for him, and since suicide is such a prevalent issue among veterans (a report from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs says more than 6,000 American veterans have committed suicide each year since 2008), FitOps Foundation just made sense.
“[FitOps is] dedicated to supporting and empowering veterans for re-acclimation [and] to raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention,” Lévesque said. As described on the FitOps website, the organization’s program “is specifically designed to build on the fitness and leadership experience that veterans gained during their time in the service,” helping them become personal trainers and giving them newfound purpose upon their return home. The proceeds from Lévesque’s marathon will support 66 veterans in FitOps.
To learn more about FitOps and Lévesque’s bear-crawling fundraiser, click here.