“Running is an individual sport. After hundreds of races and thousands of miles, I began to question my own invincibility and the imbalance of what I had taken from running to what I had given back to it. Like any physical activity, running can be taken away from you at any moment. Encouraging, inspiring, and introducing others to the blessings and benefits of running became my passion. I have found that running is the gift you can give away and still keep.” – Jacob Wells

Jacob Wells was a runner. He logged over 20,000 miles and completed hundreds of races, including 154 marathons, in just 11 years. His passion and energy for running was contagious. He was a fixture at local races and the long-standing Tuesday night Little Rock speed work group. He ran marathons all over the country. But as much as Jacob loved running, he loved sharing it with others even more. He was an inspiration to many, sharing hundreds of miles with disabled runners and pacing others to achieve their goals.

His spirit lives on in the race that he envisioned and made a reality, the 3 Bridges Marathon. The inaugural race was run on December 28, 2013, with Jacob at the helm as race director. At the Midsouth Marathon in Wynne, AR, on November 1, 2014, during what was sure to be one of the best marathons of his running career, he collapsed at mile 19 after suffering what was later determined to be a cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart. Although Jacob was known to figuratively have a big heart, even he did not know that he literally did as well.

Jacob’s death came just seven weeks before the second running of the 3 Bridges Marathon. He already had everything in place, and a committed group of his closest running friends stepped in to ensure the race would go on, as it has every year since. Many of his friends and family members run or volunteer at the race yearly in tribute to him. If you’re running the race, pay special attention to the peninsula near mile 22.5, where you see the Two Rivers Bridge across the water, then round the corner to see Pinnacle Mountain in the distance. This was his very favorite spot.

#Run4Jacob and #R4J are used on social media by runners all over the country in his memory. Thank you for keeping his dream alive.

Portions of the above are from the acceptance speech given by Nicole Hobbs when posthumously accepting the 2014 ASPCA Public Service Award for Jacob in December 2014.