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Cedarville freshman Jason Stafford running the Cedar Lake Marathon he created

Student Fights COVID-19 with the Cedar 22

by Lauren McGuire, Student Public Relations Writer

If COVID-19 shut down your favorite marathon and you were fighting the pandemic blues, what would you do? In the case of Jason Stafford, you answer with the Cedar Lake 22. And a half.

This fall, Stafford, a Cedarville University freshman management student from Prairie City, Iowa, decided to create his own marathon, minus a couple of miles, by doing laps around Cedar Lake, which sits in the center of Cedarville’s campus. Each lap was a little more than a half mile. He added a jaunt downtown to the village of Cedarville to mix it up.

With his friends cheering him on, he made multiple passes of the new Chick-fil-A dining facility, the Stevens Student Center, and Dixon Ministry Center. For the first 20 miles of Jason Stafford’s journey, he ran around the lake but then took off around the town of Cedarville for a change in scenery.

Although he didn’t complete the entire 26.2 miles, he was still able to complete 22.5 miles.

“I was listening to this podcast called the ‘Yes Theory Podcast,’” said Stafford. “These are guys that go out of their way to make their lives uncomfortable. They challenged their listeners that although we’re living in quarantine, we have a lot of things we can still do while the world is shut down.”

Stafford said that he already had a bucket list written out, and wanted to take it a step further after listening to this podcast. Although he had run cross country in high school and trained for a half marathon during quarantine, Stafford had never attempted to run something as long as a marathon before.

“There was nothing holding me back, so I decided to run it that Saturday, especially during a time when there were a lot of things holding me back from doing other things I’ve wanted to do,” he said.

He planned on running it on his own initially, but many of his friends joined him for certain miles. Paul Manring, a sophomore mechanical engineering student from Richland, Michigan, unicycled while eating a sandwich.

When he finally completed the race, he felt defeated because he hadn’t finished the entire 26.2-mile distance, but that quickly changed.

“I felt very loved at the end through the pain,” he said. “While my body was physically aching, I felt the love from my friends cheering me on.”

And that’s how you defeat the mental battle of COVID-19 with a Cedar 22. And a half.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Management program, strong graduation, and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit

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