By Sabrina Bates
What started as a way to get in better shape about 12 years ago turned into a set of goals and as of last month, those goals became a reality for Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum. On Oct. 8, his family watched him complete the Chicago Marathon. He joined 49,000 runners that day. Not only did he complete the full marathon, he ended up qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Bynum’s qualifying goal time based on age was 3:10. The Dresden man finished the qualifier in 3:08:59.
Bynum completed his first half-marathon about 10 years ago. Then he set his sights on the Boston Marathon in 2021 as a way to show his children, Ella and Nash, the importance of continually setting goals, working hard and challenging yourself.
“Over the last two years, I have run! I have run early in the morning (4:30), I have run on the weekends, I have run in the cold, I have run in the hot, I have run in the very sunny, I have run in the rain, I have run in other cities and states, and for the majority of that time I have run alone … at least in the physical sense,” Bynum shared.
Icy weather calls for runs on the treadmill, for safety purposes. On a regular day, Bynum runs 5-8 miles. On Saturdays, he runs about 10-23 miles. Many may have noticed the county mayor making a trek from city hall to city hall within Weakley County on Saturdays as the county celebrated its 200th birthday last year. Cross country team members and other running enthusiasts joined him on some of the legs of those journeys.
Fridays and Sundays are considered rest days, although Bynum joins his son on Sundays as Nash stayed in top condition for his cross-country season.
“They have been following along for the ride. It has meant making adjustments to our schedules. I run early in the mornings so I can be home in time to help get them ready for school. They have been so supportive along the way and that is not lost on me,” Bynum added.
Bynum offered gratitude for all who have supported him through this journey.
“ … I can’t honestly say I did it alone. I have had so much love and support over the last two years. While it’s not anywhere close to a comprehensive list, I have to thank a few people. Matthew McKinnon for being the one always to encourage me and force me to believe in my ability. Jessie Biggers and Grant Mackey for keeping me humble. My parents and siblings for listening to me talk constantly about running at every dinner or function, but ultimately being proud of me. Bobby Holcombe with Knoxville Endurance for being the best coach out there, pushing when needed, and helping me understand running. Everyone (there are a lot of y’all) who have asked, cheered, or followed me on an app! Finally, Alyssa, Ella, and Nash for traveling on breaks and weekends to races, waiting until I finished a long run to do anything, running all over cities trying to catch me as a run by, and most importantly, loving me through my flaws and frustrations. I can not imagine a better cheer squad,” Bynum noted.
He will take on Boston on April 21, 2025, for the marathon of a lifetime.