Ex-cage fighter to run 50-day, 50-marathon leading to London Games

Fitzgerald Cecilio – AHN Sports Reporter

Budapest, Hungary (AHN Sports) – Former cage fighter Norman Varga of Hungary has started a 50-day, 50-marathon journey that will end in London in time for the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Varga’s 1,400-mile journey that began Saturday in Budapest, Hungary is meant to encourage support for young people.

Varga’s journey will take him to Slovakia, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands before reaching London on July 27.

The 25-year-old Varga runs a foundation in Budapest, Hungary that encourages young people to pursue an active lifestyle, a quality education and careers in arts and sciences.

He was a former cage fighter who had his left arm reattached after being pushed under a tram at 16.

Varga is known as an “ultramarathoner” who runs beyond the usual 26-mile marathon, sometimes running a 100-mile race for consecutive number of days.

The negative effects of this extreme sport have been put in the spotlight lately after the death of famous ultramarathoner Micah True.

True, who racked up thousands of miles in long distance running, was found dead March 31 after just a routine 12-mile run through the Gila Wilderness of Southern Mexico.

Based on autopsy report, the 58-year-old runner had cardiomyopathy, a disease that results in the enlargement of the heart. But the medical examiner said the origin of the disease was unknown.

But Dr. Julius Cuong Pham, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said deaths during running are rare.

Dr. Paul Thompson, chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut said that even decades of hard running aren’t likely to damage the heart in most people.

“On the other hand, I wouldn’t tell people to run dozens of marathons for good health, either. You can get healthy from far less activity,” he said.

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