WINNIPEG -- Tired of watching his relatives die young and overweight, Cole Choken changed his life and dropped 100 lbs.
The Winnipeg man, who used to polish off four pizzas in an evening, now promotes healthy living and is attempting to jog to Winnipeg from Calgary to raise money for diabetes research.
"I went to ... all-you-can-eat restaurants with my uncles and my grandpa. We'd just eat away," Choken, 21, said yesterday from Calgary.
"Everybody (in my family) passed away young because of diabetes and eating too much."Two years ago, Choken feared he would follow suit. He had ballooned to 320 lbs. and would stay up at night ordering restaurant food.
"He'd go to bed and he'd start ordering pizza and chicken," said his mother, Brenda Choken.
"I'd see four large boxes of pizza and one box of chicken ... in his bedroom, empty."
Choken decided he had to change his ways. He was helped, he says, by a dream in which he saw himself standing on a highway with an old man telling him to run.
So he started running, although it was a tough battle. He vomited halfway through his first attempt to run across Winnipeg.
His body soon got used to the strain, and as he changed his eating habits, he lost more weight and the running became easier.
Last October, Choken ran to Winnipeg from Grand Beach -- a distance of about 80 km. He says anyone can go from obese to marathon-ready, if they're determined.
"Just start off slowly, just do a block. Sooner or later, you'll get farther and farther," he said.
"It's the best feeling in the world. You feel good, you feel healthy."
Choken was scheduled to leave Calgary today on his 1,300-km journey, and hopes to arrive in downtown Winnipeg by Sept. 8.His mother and other supporters will ride along in a trailer, where Choken will sleep. Eventually, he hopes to run across Canada and raise even more money for the Canadian Diabetes Association.
He's also had some exposure in a Halifax newspaper. More power to him.