Man who lost 203 pounds to become an ultra-marathoner shares his body transformation
- 41-year-old Shawn Eckert competed in his first 100-mile race on December 4-5.
- Eckert told Insider he is a recovering alcoholic, who was 203 lbs heavier just five years ago.
Just five years ago, ultra-marathoner Shawn Eckert said he was 446 lbs and couldn't even bend over to tie his shoes.
The 41-year-old told Insider he was once addicted to cocaine, Xanax, and psychedelic mushrooms, and at his lowest, he couldn't even make it to mid-day without drinking alcohol.
But today, Eckert weighs 223 lbs, has been sober since 2009, and recently kicked off an ultra-endurance running career after completing 53 miles of a 100-mile race in Daytona, Florida on December 4-5.
He told Insider he ran as far as he could before suffering a knee injury. But he plans to finish the final 47 miles when his knee recovers.
Eckert said he dealt with addiction to drugs and alcohol early in life
Eckert said he developed an addiction to "club drugs" (cocaine, Xanax, and mushrooms) as a teenager when he lived in Maryland. He said he beat his addiction at the age of 24, but then turned to alcohol.
"I started drinking when I was done with drugs to replace it," Eckert said. "On a normal day, I would wake up and just drink the whole day."
Eckert said he decided to quit when he and his family moved from Maryland to Florida in 2009, but long periods of sobriety caused him to feel physical pain. His first several attempts to kick the habit ended with binge-drinking sessions, he said.
Running helped spark Eckert's life and body transformation
In 2016, Eckert said he officially beat his
"I just assumed when I was in my late 30s that I was going to be that heavy guy for the rest of my life," Eckert said. "The turning point came when I would lean over to tie my shoes, and I had to hold my breath because I couldn't breathe."
In 2017, when Eckert was one year into his
Eckert said he then added 10-15 miles to his maximum running distance and lost 50-60 lbs each year. He shared his journey on social media.
He went on to complete his first
"It feels unreal," Eckert said.
"I was like 'this is completely unrealistic' because I was just a nobody runner. I wasn't doing it for a medal, I was doing it because I enjoyed it ... I'm hoping because I post about it so much that it inspires other people. It doesn't matter how old you are, it doesn't matter what your fitness level is, just get out there and get on it."
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