TORONTO. January 18th, 2014. In the spring of 2011, months after a life-changing experience, JP Hernandez signed up for a Learn-to-Run clinic at a local Running Room store, promising his son he would make changes to his life. On October 20th 2013, JP ran his first full marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon dressed as Batman in support of the Sick Kids Foundation for the Hospital for Sick Children, an organization that saved his life 30 years ago. JP will be running 2014 as part of the “Justice League Runners’, a group of costumed ‘superheros’ to inspire others and help charities. Their first stop as a team will be the Toronto Yonge Street 10K in April.
Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman – admit it, at one point in your life, you wanted to be one of those super heroes; I mean, who wouldn’t want to fly at limitless speeds, beat criminals to a pulp, spin a web from their wrist, or be the strongest woman in the world? When I was a kid I did, I imagined it, and with the right props, I became my favourite superhero!
As we get older, we are forced to put aside our “silly superman-stuff”, in favour of the real world. We have to finish school, get a job and support ourselves. We live in a world where real life superheroes like firefighters, police officers, and military personal do extraordinary things everyday. What weight could a character drawn on paper possibly hope to carry? More than you can ever imagine…
These heroes, with the crest on their chest, represent something because of their longevity. Batman represents what one man can do when standing against injustice. Superman’s iconic ‘S’ symbol is recognized by the entire world as a symbol of hope. To quote from the film ‘Man of Steel’: “Embodied within that hope is the fundamental belief in the potential of every person to be a force for good.” If that doesn’t make you want to wrap a red beach towel around your neck and raise your fist up to fly, then I don’t know what will.
This is why I dress up when I embark on a marathon – to be the symbol of a hero. Bruce Wayne himself said in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’: “The idea was to be a symbol. Batman could be anybody, that was the point.” While the total in my bank account reminds me that I’m not Bruce Wayne, I try to do my best to inspire others around me as his alter-ego, Batman. I run as Batman because I don’t want my face to be what people see – I want it to be about the charity, the Sick Kids Foundation, and the children at Sick Kids Hospital who are real superheroes everyday. Once I finished my marathon last October, the first thought to come to my head was “when can I do this for Sick Kids again?”
We grow up, but the motivation to be something more must never leave us. It is the legacy we leave for future generations, the example we set for our children – the hope that we can rise in the face of challenges. It was an honor to do what I did, and I look forward to running again at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K race in April. The good news it that this time I won’t be doing it alone! On Sunday April 13th you will see me and the Justice League Runners – a group of ordinary individuals setting out to inspire an entire city.
So, you can admit you wanted to be a super hero – it’s the in-thing now, all the cool kids are doing it. Check out the Justice League Runners Facebook page and tell them Batman sent you! The best part is we’re recruiting! Connect with us to run the Toronto Yonge Street 10K or the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this year! Follow @rundarkknight on Twitter or find me at my blog.
How do you channel your inner superhero when you run?