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Runner Trying to Raise Money, Hope for AIDS Research

September 16, 1986

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ The scenery is beautiful and his best-ever marathon was just a month ago, but Brent Nicholson Earle is constantly reminded of the somber reasons behind his 10,000-mile run around America.

Since he launched The American Run for the End of AIDS from New York’s City Hall on March 1, Earle has lost eight friends to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, including three since Aug. 1.

″I try not to let it get me down,″ the 35-year-old New Yorker said soon after arriving in Spokane. ″It certainly strengthens my commitment to this effort. I have friends sick right now who are fighting for their lives every day, and I’m doing this as much for them as for the ones we’ve already lost and the ones who may become sick.

″This is not a run, it’s a race.″

The 19-month project has so far meant pushing himself in everything from a minus-15 degrees wind-chill factor to searing summer days across the northern Plains.

″Circling the country, instead of running across it, is to emphasize that AIDS is not the problem of one segment of society, and to bring a message of unity, that only through a unified effort will we lick this thing,″ he said. Earle is neither a seasoned runner nor a gifted athlete. The actor-playwright- photographer says running has become an outlet for his grief.

In 1984, soon after losing five friends to the deadly disease, he found himself raising $400 in pledges for AIDS research by running two six-mile loops around Central Park. Now, his goal is $10 million for AIDS education.

Along the way, he said, he hopes to raise the consciousness of those who see or read about his effort.

All pledges will go to the Washington, D.C.-based National AIDS Network, which represents a coalition of organizations fighting AIDS.

Only about $40,000 has been pledged, said Earle, who had logged 2,744 miles through Friday, when he arrived in Spokane, which will be base for him and his crew through mid-week.

He has raised $140,000 to support the run, and an anonymous donor provided the down payment for a Winnebago support vehicle. His mother, Marion Nicholson of Lockport, N.Y., is part of the crew.

Since a medical cure could be years away, there is an urgent need for AIDS education, Earle said. That ranges from safe sexual practices to dispelling fear and mistrust.

″I think I’m having a great effect just being on the highways of the country, raising the consciousness of people who normally might turn a deaf ear to the issue.″

Earle started putting his life on hold in January 1985, when he quit his job in the antiques business. He sublet his Manhattan apartment and logged 3,000 miles, including six marathons, to prepare for the run.

He averages about 20 miles a day, and said he has rarely been hassled along his route. He wears a black armband in memory of lost friends and plans to be back in New York City in October 1987.

He plans to be in Los Angeles by Christmas.

He took a break in August to run the marathon in the Gay Games in San Francisco, finishing in a personal best 3 hours, 3 minutes, 26 seconds.

″It was a big uplift,″ he said.

He resumed his run in Billings, Mont., and ″paid for my fastest marathon all across Montana.″

He is scheduled to arrive in Seattle on Sept. 26, and will make a spur run to Vancouver, British Columbia, before turning down the West Coast.

The Canadian portion of Earle’s trip is a tribute to Terry Fox, the one- legged runner who completed a run across Canada in a fund-raising effort for research on cancer, the disease which eventually killed him.

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EDITORS NOTE: Contributions can be made to The National AIDS Network. 729 8th St. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003, or to the run itself, A.R.E.A. Inc., 2350 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10024.

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