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Lake Forest man to run 200 miles to raise funds for CHOC

From The Orange County Register

By Nathan Percy / Staff Writer

After falling short in his attempt to run 200 consecutive miles a decade ago, Jesse Zweig is trying again.

Hoping to raise $50,000 for Children’s Hospital of Orange County, the Lake Forest resident will be traversing Orange County this week to show what can be accomplished through intense mental toughness.

Zweig’s first attempt at age 18 fell short when his body wouldn’t allow him to continue past 124 miles. Blisters covered his feet and low temperatures made it impossible for him to continue.

Initially, he felt like he had failed, despite getting more than $50,000 in donations for CHOC.

“I’m thinking about it years later and I didn’t fail,” said Zweig, now 28. “The only way you fail is if you give up. That’s a huge lesson for me, or anyone, to take away.”

Zweig said he never had health issues as a child and had no affiliation with CHOC before attempting that 200-mile run. But he wants to run and raise money for children who may, at this point in time, be incapable of having an active lifestyle, he said.

Zweig is taking some lessons from that first go-round and applying them on his second attempt, which he hopes to complete in 48-60 hours starting at 8 a.m. Friday.

His journey will start at CHOC in Orange, take him westbound to Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach, then south to San Onofre and back up to Rancho Santa Margarita. He’ll end up in his hometown of Lake Forest before heading north through the canyons, back south through Irvine and down to San Clemente for a second loop.

Ultimately, should he finish the 200-mile trek, he’ll end up at the Lake Forest Sports Park.

Zweig said he has had it in the back of his mind to try again for the past three years. In September, he asked his wife, Jenel, if she would be okay with it. The couple are expecting their first child in early March, a boy, which played the ultimate role in determining the timing for his run.

Her approval secured, he started training. Zweig said he’s improved his nutrition and is starting to find the right balance when taking in water and nutrition on the road.

Nate Mouzis, a longtime friend who has been running with Zweig for 15 years, will be the crew captain, bicycling alongside Zweig or riding in an RV following Zweig for the majority of the run.

Mouzis remembered advising Zweig to stop in 2007, noting he was hyperventilating and was very pale.

“We had to sit him down and say ‘you’re not setting yourself up to complete 200 miles,’” Mouzis recalled. “He was in a very bad situation.”

Mouzis is confident that Zweig can accomplish his goal this time around. And he said he’s more prepared to offer Zweig what he needs throughout the run by keeping items in a milk crate on the bicycle or in a backpack, including dry clothes.

“My main job in all this is efficiency,” he said. “He can’t be waiting on me in a 200-mile run.”

Mouzis said he hopes Zweig’s journey will inspire others in Southern California to participate in outdoor activities.

“We’re hoping it will motivate people to…create a healthier lifestyle,” he said. “That would be more of a success than anything.”

Monique Bates, community relations manager at CHOC, said Zweig’s run to raise money for the hospital is a testament to his character. She said he inspires children who are being treated at the hospital.

“It is a very uplifting story he has because (the kids) are going through so much in that state, but here is someone is running for me,” Bates said. “It gives them the drive to want to do more.”

Since his first attempt at 200 miles back in January 2007, Zweig has completed his mission for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Canada, earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts through Santiago Canyon College and earned an associate’s degree in Fire Science through Santa Ana College.

He works at Allen Ross Tile Co. in Tustin.

With all other aspects of his life secure, Zweig found an opportunity to accomplish his goal. He stops short of saying this is his final shot at an ultra-distance run for charity, but does acknowledge his priorities will be shifting soon.

“I would like to, in the future, do more events,” Zweig said. “But after this one, I’ve got to take care of the little one.”

Contact the writer: npercy@scng.com

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CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine