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Food: Reality TV Star Mike Diamond Runs 30 Half Marathons in 30 Days

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Last year, Mike Diamond, a TV personality best known for his roles on NY Ink and Bondi Ink Tattoo Crew, ran his first half marathon. Then last month, he finished a whopping 30 half marathons—one a day for 30 days.

a person holding a frisbee in a park: The Australian actor aimed to raise funds and awareness for those affected by autoimmune diseases—and get his health back on track in the process.© Courtesy of Mike Diamond The Australian actor aimed to raise funds and awareness for those affected by autoimmune diseases—and get his health back on track in the process.

The purpose of the half marathon challenge, which kicked off on August 2 and ended on August 31, was to raise funds and awareness for rare autoimmune diseases. But it was also a personal quest for Diamond, 47, who has committed to getting his health back on track since battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol and experiencing a serious medical scare two years ago.

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In June of 2017, Diamond was having dinner with his wife to celebrate his 45th birthday when his stomach started to ache. He woke up sweating profusely the next morning. After rushing to the ER and undergoing a CT scan, Diamond was told his appendix had burst, which had sent him into septic shock. He was wheeled off immediately to undergo surgery.

While he recovered, Diamond began reading about running and watched a documentary about a 100-mile ultramarathon. He decided that he wanted to run a half marathon once he gained his strength back, so he adapted a 12-week training plan. After the race—which he ran while pushing his son, Oscar, in a stroller—Diamond was hooked. Running took the place of unhealthy activities he had pursued in the past, such as drinking and using drugs.

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“I was addicted to cocaine and alcohol,” Diamond said. “At the time, my addiction ruined businesses and personal relationships, but I have now made amends.”

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This year, Diamond realized he could use the sport as a way to support a cause close to his heart. For years, family friends had struggled to find a cure for their 6-year-old daughter, Layla, who has a rare autoimmune disease.

To help raise funds and awareness for autoimmune diseases, he decided to run 13.1 miles for 30 days around his home in Pasadena, California, dubbing the challenge “Run for Layla.” Though not official races, each half marathon would consist of loops around Via Verde Park, located near Diamond’s home.

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To train for the challenge, Diamond wrote his own 16-week program, which included weight lifting and running. He ran 200 miles in the month of June—pushing Orlando, his 1-year-old son, in the stroller the entire time—and also biked 1,200 miles.

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“I would do these crazy leg workouts to prepare myself to run on really tired legs,” Diamond said. “I would do 1,000 squats and a hundred pull-ups holding the baby in the carrier, and then go for six miles uphill.”

a man riding a skateboard up the side of a road: Diamond ran all 30 half marathons on a small loop near his home in Pasadena, California. © Courtesy of Mike Diamond Diamond ran all 30 half marathons on a small loop near his home in Pasadena, California.

The intense training paid off. Each day, Diamond woke up at 4 a.m., meditated, left home, then started running on the course at 7 a.m. He averaged between 10 and 11 minutes per mile over the hilly, 32-lap course, all while holding a portable charger to keep his phone and GoPro alive to capture his every step.

While many of the 13.1-mile runs felt good, Diamond said some of the days were particularly challenging—but he was determined to finish what he started. “When I was an addict, there was a lot of stuff I didn’t finish,” said Diamond, who has been sober for 13 years now. “I committed to finishing this.”

In the end, Diamond was able to raise more than $4,000 in donations to go toward autoimmune disease research. He’s not planning on running 30 consecutive half marathons again anytime soon, but he is eyeing another challenge: to run more than 100 half marathons in a year.

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