SPECIAL/Friendship Sports Association
ATLANTA – On Sunday, May 2, Dr. Anthony George, pastor of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church informed the congregation that fellow church member, Stan Cottrell, a much-heralded long-distance runner, would begin his next run across the United States on his 78th birthday, May 7.
For Cottrell, who has logged more than 260,000 miles of running in his lifetime, the transcontinental run is intended to promote friendship among the citizens of the nation and to glorify Christ. In a personal interview, Cottrell stated, “This run is all about, ‘Lord, I am reporting for duty.’”
George stated, “Stan Cottrell’s run will be reported by some of the major media in the nation including ESPN, CBS, NBC, Netflix and even Martha Stewart and Ellen. We need to pray for him, because he is an on fire, born again, spirit-filled believer. He is going to give Jesus and FBA a “shout out” all the way across the land.
“Five mayors in strategic cities on his route across the country are going to roll out the red carpet of welcome to Brother Cottrell. There will be six buses accompanying him along the way: one bus for his cardiologist and medical team, one bus for a nutritionist and those who will be preparing his food, and a bus for security purposes.” The other buses will likely be for Cottrell’s sleeping quarters and for the media.
Cottrell’s ultra-distance run beginning in Los Angeles will end more than 3,126-miles and 100-days later in Washington, D.C., at the Capitol. The Atlantan’s running resume is as impressive as Hank Aaron’s home run record or Ty Cobb’s lifetime batting average.
Cottrell exclaimed, “This transcontinental run across the county will take 100 days in contrast to the 48-day run in 1980 because of my parents.”
He then added, “Mother Nature and Father Time have taken a toll on my body in the last 40 years.” The indomitable and determined Georgia Baptist then stated, “Stay tuned! You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Cottrell’s quarter of a million miles of running have taken him through 40 countries, including a 3,500-mile run through 12 European countries, a 2,125-mile run from the Great Wall to Guangzhou in China and a 500-mile “Freedom Run” from the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin to Warsaw, Poland. This website states that Cottrell has “received over 300 awards from U.S. Government agencies, foreign governments, and nationally recognized service organizations for promoting international goodwill and the U.S. image abroad.”
In contemplation of Cottrell’s run, the movie, “Forrest Gump,” comes to mind. With Tom Hanks in the starring role, Jenny Curran, played by Hanna R. Hall, cries out, “Run, Forrest, run!” Jenny’s admonition prompts Forrest to run so fast that everything starts moving in slow motion and he sprints right out of his leg braces and keeps on going, literally leaving the three bullies, who are the slowest bike riders ever, in his dust.
Even more amazing than fictional Forrest Gump, and perhaps more inspiring than the heralded Olympic long-distance runners Paavo Nurmi and Haile Gebrselassie, Cottrell has embarked on his ambitious “Friendship Run” to fan the flame of hope and send a message that America is alive and well.
In a personal telephone conversation with Cottrell from his “launching pad” in Los Angeles, he quoted Oswald Chambers who wrote, “‘True friendship is a rare commodity.’ I want this run across America to break down walls that not only divide the country, but also shatter walls that divide one human being from another and one heart from another.”
Cottrell, in explaining his motivation, cited other spiritual influences in his life. He recalled, “My great grandfather back in Kentucky was a powerful preacher and often conducted three-week revivals. He was one of the influential voices that pushed Christianity forward in that part of the country. My grandfather followed in his steps and prayed for me and asked God to give me ‘the blessing.’”
Prior to one of Cottrell’s running expeditions, he recollected a conversation with Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham, who told him, “I am going to pray that you will be as wise as a serpent so you will be as harmless as a dove.”
Cottrell also referred to a recent telephone conversation he had with his pastor, who offered words of encouragement and the promise of his prayers.
Cottrell admitted, “As a young adult I was running for myself and trying to break some new record every time I ran. However, one day a friend was with me in the woods and said, I will never be able to be your best friend until you go to church with me.’ With a great measure of reluctance in my heart, I finally decided it was time for me to go. My wife had been praying for me for seven years.
“On a Sunday morning I agreed to go to the First Baptist Church in Atlanta when it was located downtown on Peachtree Street. I was seated in the balcony when Dr. Charles Stanley began asking some probing questions: ‘Are you living in the will of God? Is your life pleasing to God? Do you have financial problems? Do you have relationship problems? Is your life headed in the right direction?’ Those questions and others were penetrating my heart, because nothing was really working out for me.’
“Then Dr. Stanley began talking about Zaccheus and said that he got out on a limb so he could see Jesus. The pressure was so great in my soul I thought the whole balcony would fall down. I thought, ‘I will rip open my whole chest cavity Jesus, if you will come into my life.’ I surrendered all to Him.”
Cottrell told Christopher Boan of the Phoenix Patch, “But I feel like with this particular run, given where our country has been for the last year, we’ve all suffered, we’ve all paid the price of having to change our lifestyles drastically. This run is symbolic of ‘let’s open the doors.’ Let’s get out and start moving emotionally, spiritually, mentally instead of just feeling sequestered, and feeling like there’s no hope.”
For additional information about Stan Cottrell and his ran across America go to: https://friendshipsportsassociation.org.