The ‘Adoration Ultra:’ Catholic runner to cover 50 miles of Eucharistic adoration

Jimmy Coleman 1 Jimmy Coleman, a Catholic entrepreneur and father from North Carolina, completes an ultrarun. | Credit: Photo courtesy of Jimmy Coleman

In the minds of many nonathletes, a 26.2-mile marathon is near the apex of human physical achievement. But in the ever-evolving world of competitive running, “ultramarathons” — broadly defined as any run longer than a traditional marathon — have surged in popularity in the past several decades. Top athletes can cover tens, hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of miles in runs like these.

For Jimmy Coleman, an entrepreneur and father from North Carolina, ultrarunning has become a way of life in recent years. But he didn’t have a way to explicitly make his running a part of his Catholic faith — until now. 

Coleman plans to run a 50-mile route this Friday, Jan. 26, stopping at five Catholic parishes in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area and spend time in Eucharistic adoration at each one. Coleman, who founded and manages a marketing firm, said he has a film crew at the ready to capture the experience on video for a docuseries he is creating.

Coleman told CNA that he was inspired to create his “Adoration Ultra” as a way to demonstrate his devotion to the Eucharist and hopefully inspire observers to take Catholic teaching on the Eucharist — that the consecrated bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ — more seriously. 

Coleman’s run coincides (but is not affiliated) with the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, the U.S. bishops’ multiyear project of promoting belief in and reverence for the Eucharist that culminates this summer with the National Eucharistic Congress. 

Jimmy Coleman, an entrepreneur and father from North Carolina, comples an ultrarun. Credit: Photo courtesy of Jimmy Coleman
Jimmy Coleman, an entrepreneur and father from North Carolina, comples an ultrarun. Credit: Photo courtesy of Jimmy Coleman

“I’ve been trying to find a way to fuse the importance of my faith into this fitness journey,” Coleman said. 

“And if I’m going to involve my faith, what is the one aspect of my faith that would do the most ‘damage,’ in a good way? And I think the Eucharist is that.”

Athleticism and faith

Interested and invested in various sports since childhood, Coleman would later drop out of college to pursue entrepreneurship and business opportunities. His love of athletic endeavors took a back seat for a time to his desire to be financially successful, he said.

Eventually, though, Coleman said he began working out again and became deeply invested in getting fit, even to the point where he decided he wanted to pursue a career as a professional athlete. At this point in his life, too, he was exploring Protestant churches in the Charlotte area, despite having been raised Catholic. 

Things changed for Coleman a few years ago when he learned his wife was pregnant. The news prompted some serious reflection on his role as a provider and spiritual leader for his family, and he considered what kind of a legacy he wanted to leave for his children — both in terms of a good example of physical fitness and discipline, but also a legacy of faith.

Coleman said in learning more about the Catholic faith in which he was raised, and seeking out and consuming apologetic defenses of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, he was convinced intellectually to return. 

“The Eucharist was the main thing that brought me, really, back to Catholicism, rejecting Protestant ideology,” he explained. 

“I think it’s one of those things where if you’re aware of it and you come to the same conclusion that I came to, you cannot continue to pass by [the Catholic parish] every week and go to another church that doesn’t have the body of Jesus. If I told you, ‘Hey, I’m going to be with the body of Jesus today,’ you’re not going to go somewhere else for church this Sunday. You’re going to go where the body of Jesus is. And that’s actually true for Catholics that skip out on Mass.”

A deeper love for the Eucharist

Coleman said his purpose-driven “ultra” will include 2.5 total hours of Eucharistic adoration, plus the time it will take to run between each church.

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The day will begin at 7 a.m. Friday with Mass at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville followed by 30 minutes in Eucharistic adoration. From there, Coleman will run 14 miles to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish (a friend will pace him for the first leg); then nearly 15 miles to St. Vincent de Paul Parish; 10 miles to St. John Neumann Parish; and finally 12 miles to St. Matthew Parish. Coleman said he plans to spend about 30 minutes in prayer at each parish. 

Coleman said he doesn’t expect a “crowd” but encouraged anyone wanting to watch, offer support, run with him, or participate in prayer at the parishes to submit a form on his website so he knows how many people to expect. 

Sidney de Almeida / Shutterstock
Sidney de Almeida / Shutterstock

He said he hopes his run will bear witness to his faith in the importance of the Eucharist — encouraging fellow Catholics to appreciate Christ in the Eucharist, prompt Protestants to evaluate their beliefs, and present a fervent example of faith to atheists.

“For Catholics, I’m hoping that it reinvigorates their faith and lets them know how precious what they have is … people are just going through the motions, don’t realize what they’ve been granted with,” Coleman said. 

“There’s that moment when you’re about to receive the Eucharist in Mass, and I’m not sure that all people realize what they’re walking up and what they’re about to do. And I’m hoping that this will make them think about that more deeply before they receive the Eucharist.”

Coleman said most of his friends are Protestant and don’t know about or understand the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, and also that some of his friends don’t believe in God at all. He said he believes the Church’s foundational teaching on the Eucharist can awaken and inspire individuals in their faith, regardless of their background.

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“Christianity in its truest form is perfect as it is, so we don’t need to try to change it in order to make it digestible for other people,” he said.

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