DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) Dothan Fireman Blake Johnson has a passion for running. He started hitting the pavement to lose weight, and later got hooked on long distance. Since 2013 he's completed 9 full marathons. This past March he decided to cross the New York City Marathon off his bucket list.
"New York is a very prestigious marathon to run,” said Johnson. “It's one of the majors in the entire world. You have the best elite marathoners that are running."
He entered into a drawing and a contest in hopes of being chosen to compete. For the contest, he had to write a short essay on why he wanted to run. He didn't win, but his words struck a chord with the New York Road Runners Organization. They offered him an entry into the race.
"Something I did in private is was that I dedicated every full marathon to a fallen fireman,” explained Johnson. “Whether that be to somebody from September 11th or something that happened more recently while I was training for that marathon. I talked about that."
Johnson has been training and is confident he can handle running in the cooler temperatures.
"I would like to finish with a decent time,” mentioned Johnson. “I'm usually under 4 hours. I like to be around 3 hours and 40 minutes or so."
His wife and her cousin are traveling to New York to cheer him on. They will meet him at the finish line.
Johnson said, "hopefully, if we can find them. There's going to be 55,000 runners there plus their families so 200,000 people right there in Central Park."
After the race Johnson looks forward to spending time in the Big Apple with his family sightseeing, and relaxing.
"Seeing the 911 Memorial and Museum is our first priority” said Johnson, before joking “if they have beer at the finish line. That's always a good thing to look for too and eat a slice of New York pizza for sure."
The New York City Marathon is Sunday November 5th. Johnson will be running in honor of fireman Frank Palombo. Palombo lost his life on 911.