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It was mostly quiet around the dunes of Jockey's Ridge State Park on Easter morning as Kenny Capps said goodbye to his family over the sounds of Atlantic Ocean surf breaking along the shore. 

Capps, a Black Mountain man who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015, has been running ultramarathons for most of his life, was moments away from embarking on one of his biggest challenges yet - a 1,175-mile trek from the sea to the mountains. 

It will take Capps 54 days to make the journey, which began on the Outer Banks on April 1 and will follow the full length of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to Clingmans Dome in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

The run across the state is designed to raise awareness about the blood cancer, for which there is no cure. Capps is also raising money for his pending nonprofit charity Throwing Bones, which seeks to provide funding for research while motivating myeloma patients to remain active. The organization is also raising money to provide patient assistance grants, which Capps said will help pay for expenses related to treatment that aren't covered by insurance. 

Capps would like to raise $117,500, or $100 per mile, on his run across North Carolina. 

On his the eighth day of his journey (April 9), Capps said in a phone interview that the run was going "great so far."

The first five days of the run took Capps south along the Outer Banks before he caught a ferry to the mainland. 

"The last day on (Cedar Island), which was day four, we had a nice little wind storm blowing sand," he said. "That was a little painful, but it turned into rain and that was better than sand."

Capps will need to average just under 22 miles per day to complete the run by May 24. 

"We started out with our longest day, which was just over 34 miles," he said. "So I guess we went big from the beginning, coming from Jockey's Ridge down to the end of Ocracoke. We had to board two ferries."

A two-man crew made up of Chuck Dale and Dean Hart is assisting Capps on the trip and following along in an RV. Fellow ultramarathon runner Dave McConkey, himself a myeloma patient, joined Capps on day five.

"He does a lot of myeloma ambassador work with Myeloma Canada and he's a great guy," Capps said of McConkey. "It was awesome having him run with me for a couple of days."

Through the first roughly 150 miles of his trip, Capps said he's keeping his mind on putting one foot in front of the other. 

"I've had different aches and pains so far, but they've all gotten better," he said. "I just keep getting a good night's sleep and waking up and doing it all again."

Support for Throwing Bones has been growing through the first several days of the run, Capps said. 

"This past week has been huge," he said. "If this is any indicator of the way things will go, then we're definitely headed in the right direction."

 

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