It's been said that running a marathon is the "triumph of desire over reason."
But Wai Law may need more than mere fortitude and determination — a higher power perhaps — as he sets out Friday on an extraordinary physical journey, running the equivalent of 21 marathons from Buffalo to Battery Park over 10 days.
Law, 54, an accountant from Bethpage, will run the 555-mile length of the recently completed Empire State Trail — all while pushing a baby stroller stocked with 50 pounds of supplies — to raise money for the Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research at Stony Brook University.
"I am able to push through the pain and the discomfort and my body can slowly adapt to that kind of run," Law, a married father of two adult children, said as he explained his strategy. "It's all mental when you get to ultramarathons."
Perhaps. But an extra source of inspiration can't hurt either.
Law will be running to raise awareness, and to honor the memory of Ruben Almodovar, the father of his longtime friend, Dennis Almodovar. Ruben Almodovar, a driver for Entenmann's, died in 2017 at the age of 80 after a 12-year battle with Parkinson's.
Dennis Almodovar, 53, of Massapequa, also an accountant, said he first met Law 15 years ago at a charity event. Since then, the pair have become close friends, completing many long runs or marathons.
"It's hard to put into words how great of a gesture this is because, as someone who is an ultra runner myself, I know what it takes," said Almodovar, who plans to run about 50 miles of the journey with his friend. "The hard work. The mental piece. The physical piece … It's an amazing act of kindness and unselfishness."
Law will depart June 25 from Buffalo. His run will take him east through Rochester, Syracuse and Utica before turning south in Albany. The path will then include rolling hills as he runs through the Catskills toward Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Yonkers and into New York City. The route does not include Long Island.
The Empire State Trail was completed in December, connecting a series of previously disconnected trails into the longest multiuse trail in the country.
Along the way, Law will stop to sleep and eat, relying largely on the supplies packed in his stroller. He expects some visitors along the way — remember the running montage in Forrest Gump — but expects to take on the journey by himself.
"I won't have a crew so I need to plan for the worst-case scenario with enough supplies, food and water," he said.
Dr. Alfredo Fontanini, chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University, said the fundraiser, and the attention it draws, will be invaluable for Parkinson's research.
"This is very special," said Fontanini. "It's special for motivating us researchers. This is incredible. And it's also very important for raising awareness that while some therapies are available for Parkinson's, research still needs to be done … To date we don't have a cure for Parkinson's."
The 555-mile trek is new ground for Law.
Last year, he raised more than $10,000 for the Hartman Center while running 103 miles from New Paltz to Citi Field in 24 hours. Law hopes to double that amount this year through individual donations collected through Stony Brook, on his Facebook page and through in-person training events.
Law, who is also raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, established "Wai's 50 Yard Stroller Challenge" to encourage the public's involvement. To participate, members of the public are encouraged to load a stroller, cart or wheel barrel with additional weight and run 50 yards to raise at least $5 for either charity.
Law said while he fully expects to be in pain during the run across New York, the effort is well worth the trouble.
"I run for those who can’t," he said. "I run to raise funds for important medical research, and I run to help pay for expenses that a family may need while dealing with a medical crisis."