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Survivor Ethan Zohn talks about Running 2

Didn't your father do the New York City Marathon, too?
Yes, and that was a big deal for me as well--another reason why the event was so huge. Ever since my dad passed away from colon cancer when I was 14, I wanted to run the New York City Marathon. He did it twice, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. When I crossed the finish, I'm sure he was there in spirit somehow, so that was really cool.

Your family must have been so proud of you.
Yes. It was totally awesome and one of the pictures that I have of my dad is from him running the New York City Marathon. He had passed the person who was taking the picture and he was running backward to look back so it looks like he is in front of everyone running the race since he is running backward. I have memories of that picture in my head for my whole life.

How much work goes into your fund-raising efforts?
I like running for myself, but to be able to run for something greater than yourself is a great feeling. It brings a sense of teamwork and community, camaraderie with the team all working toward a common goal. You are not just trying to cross the finish line but also raising money to help save people's lives at the same time. I really enjoy that. It is a lot of work--not only just the fund-raising part, but with a team that size, it's finding hotel rooms, getting food, signing them up, making sure they are fund-raising on time, sending out newsletters. There's that whole side of the process, but the actual fund-raising is tough because it's tough to raise money and there are so many people doing it. It starts to be very tricky with walk-a-thons, marathons, and bike-a-thons. A lot of people do it, and there are so many great people and so many great charities, but it makes it more worth it for me knowing that every step I take out there is for that. But it's a strategy. You have to write letters and get people to buy whatever you are trying to sell, and I keep going back to the same people year in and year out.

You're also an ambassador for Stand Up to Cancer, right?
I am. Obviously I am in a position where I have been on TV, so it's nice to be able to sort of use my face or fame to help other organizations. I am on this global convoy team. There are like six of us, and I got to go to a big Stand Up to Cancer live broadcast and it was amazing. They raised more than $80 million. I love the fact that there are so many celebrities out there doing good things, especially the New York City Marathon. They always get a handful of well-known people who are running for a cause.

Didn't you recently become a vegetarian?
Well, I am on and off. I eat fish now, but for 14 years after my dad died, I was vegetarian for far too long and the only thing I wanted to eat was Buffalo wings when I got back. Now I am still kind of weaning myself back on. I eat some fish and dairy, but I stay away from red meat and chicken. Sometimes I'll have a little bit of turkey.

How has that diet impacted your running?
It really hasn't, to tell you the truth.

The Buffalo wings didn't hurt?
They always hurt a little bit, but they are worth it. I have never really focused on my diet in terms of the way to be a better runner or athlete, but I always eat well. I am a healthy eater. I don't drink sodas or do any of that stuff, but when I am seriously running, I definitely do look at my diet. It hasn't hurt me at all, but I think it could help me if I put the time into it.

Do you have a favorite area where you love to run?
Well I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, so whenever I go back home to visit my family, I always go back there and run the streets because that's where I grew up and its fun.

What do you like about it?
My favorite time of year to run is September/ October because that's usually when I would go back to school for the preseason of soccer. It's always the smell of the air, the grass. It's a little bit cooler, so I love running that time of year, especially in Lexington. It's getting into fall and you just run and the trees are changing color and it's just such a cute Revolutionary town and it's awesome. This bike path that leads through Lexington all the way into Cambridge is nice to run because there are no cars and it's completely engulfed with trees and it's so quiet and nice.

Do you do anything to pysch yourself up for a great run?
I don't listen to music. I never have while I run. If I have to do a long run, I definitely take care of myself. I'll go to bed early, I'll prepare mentally, but nothing else, really. Usually the start of the run is a little bit slow for me, but once I get going, I get pumped up and kind of get excited about how I feel when I am running. When the going gets tough, there are places that I go and mantras that I recite.

You travel a lot. Have you done any great runs out of town?
Yes, and I'm very fortunate that I am able to travel both for work and for pleasure. I take my GPS watch and my running shoes everywhere I go. That's one way that I get to know a new area. That's how I get to know the town. I'll run through the town and get the lay of the land. I have literally run everywhere that I have ever been. I just went to Bora Bora and I ran there. It's a small island. From end to end, it's maybe a mile, so I ran around the island a couple of times like a track. People think I'm crazy because, in some of the areas, people don't run, but I love running in Bora Bora. We went to the place, the St. Regis Resort. Have you seen the movie Couple's Retreat? Well, that's where they filmed it and, when I was sick, I said that's where we were going to go when I was better. It's ridiculously hot, and it's so nice to go for a jog there.

Do you run on sand?
Yes. There was one path and then I ran on the sand around the island as well. Another run that I did was in Sonoma wine country outside of San Francisco. It was awesome. It was last summer. My sister was getting married, and we went out there for the wedding and I went out for a run. Coming from New York City, the air was so fresh and clean and it was cool. It was one of those runs that felt great.

Any pet peeves while you're running?
In New York City, I get frustrated with the crowds and people that kind of run and stop and run and stop--they will just stop out of nowhere. Or people that take up the entire sidewalk. It's very self-centered New Yorker. I don't have too many pet peeves, but I'm really obsessive-compulsive about my running socks. I would wear a new pair of socks every day of my life because I love them. When I go with my girlfriend, Jenna, and we go to the running store, I am always looking at the socks. And I don't really like them washed and dried. I like them washed and dried halfway and then air-dried. I am obsessed with socks. I am always on the quest to find the perfect pair of socks!

What are your favorite running socks?
My favorite socks right now are Asics Kayanos. They are black and yellow. They are designed specifically for the right and left foot with arch support. They don't slide around when you sweat too much.

What's next?
Grassroot Soccer and the team for the marathon. I wrote and published three children's books. They are for ages 6 to 9 years old, so I am actively getting those out there. They are called Soccer World about a cartoon version of myself who travels the world and learns all about the cultures and traditions and people and landmarks through soccer. I have Soccer World: Mexico, Soccer World: South Africa, and Soccer World: Spain. Spain actually got translated into Spanish, which is exciting.

I'm a Runner: Ethan Zohn


This is the second part of the interview with Sole Survivor Ethan Zohn. Ethan Zohn has tested himself to his limits in Survivor. Now he's stretching it more by running. This soccer player-turned-runner is amazing!

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