RENO — The 10th anniversary of the events of 9/11 have inspired local athlete Max McManus to venture through all 50 states in 50 days, amassing about 7,500 miles on his bicycle. If completed he will claim a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, but McManus said the record is the least of his worries.
“The purpose is to benefit the 9/11 Help America Foundation and the goal is to embrace the United States by having everyone donate one penny per person,” McManus said.
He added that his intention is to increase awareness of freedom being taken for granted in the United States.
“A big piece of why we are so fortunate is because there are guys in the military that are fighting to protect our freedom,” he said.
McManus is the son of a former Air Force pilot, which he said gives him a “very patriotic view of the military.”
McManus, 47, departs Reno today and officially begins riding on Sunday when he arrives in Alaska. He will have exactly 50 days to reach his final destination – Ground Zero on Sept. 11.
“At 12:01 a.m. on July 24, I will ride my bike around Alaska and then jump on a plane and fly to Hawaii at 2:40 a.m,” McManus said. “The first place I will go is Pearl Harbor.”
McManus plans to interview military personnel at historical sites throughout his journey.
July 25 will mark the start of his tour through the continental United States, beginning at the California border. In order to complete the task in 50 days, McManus said he designed the route to be as efficient as possible.
“In some states I’m in the four corners, which is only about five minutes,” he said. “But some states, like Montana, I’m in for four days. That’s just how I came up with the route to get it done in the least amount of miles.”
Once he arrives at Ground Zero, McManus said he hopes to remember, among many things, the support of those who believed in his cause. He said the strength he musters to finish the task will be fueled by his ability to make a difference to people.
“The most important thing to remember will be the support and emotion and how I effect all the people I meet in a way that relates to this ride,” McManus said. “The feedback I get from all these people will be the thing that is most gratifying and inspiring for me.”
McManus began competing in Ironman triathlon competitions in the early 1980’s before a crash ended his career. Since that time, he has been mentoring and training athletes in his company Maximum Results Inc.
However, McManus never could stay away from the triathlete lifestyle.
“Everyone says, ‘Max you’re crazy, it’s too soon,’” he said. “They are right, it is too soon. People ask me if it is worth it to do this and risk irreparable damage. I think if I increase awareness, then yes it’s worth it.”
To follow Max McManus during the Freedom 5050 ride or to contribute to the 9/11 Help America Foundation, visit www.freedom5050.com.