When his hopes of a soccer career faded, Hellah Sidibe started running every day. He's still going five-and-a-half years later

4 days ago 136

(CNN)Every day, immoderate the weather, Hellah Sidibe laces up his moving shoes and heads to his nearest road, parkland oregon trail.

It's a ritual he's maintained for the past five-and-a-half years and the 31-year-old Sidibe doesn't program to interruption it anytime soon, careless of wherever helium is and what beingness throws astatine him.

"As of close now, I don't privation to get up of myself, but I tin spot myself doing this for the remainder of my life," helium tells CNN Sport.

    On May 15, 2017, Sidibe decided to tally for 10 minutes each time for 2 weeks. Tired of making bare promises astir going to the gym, helium wanted to clasp himself accountable to a small, manageable workout routine.

      It wasn't agelong earlier Sidibe started to standard up his ambitions. The runs became faster and further, and soon helium planned to spell each time for a year.

      The days slipped by and gradually helium started to tick disconnected much milestones -- 2 years, 3 years, 1,000 days. His lone stipulation, to which Sidibe inactive adheres, is that his runs are outdoors and astatine slightest 2 miles long.

      Sidibe started moving  each   time  successful  2017.

      Unbeknownst to him, helium had go a tally streaker -- a statement for radical who marque a semipermanent committedness to moving each day.

        According to Streak Runners International and the United States Running Streak Association, an enactment that catalogs tally streaks, 71-year-old Jon Sutherland tops the progressive moving streak database connected 53 years -- astir 19,500 days.

        Facing fears

        Sidibe whitethorn inactive beryllium decades distant from joining the long-serving disciples of streak running, but his five-and-a-half-year travel has radically redefined his presumption of the sport.

        A promising shot subordinate successful his youth, Sidibe saw moving arsenic a signifier of punishment and would person sleepless nights the time earlier fittingness tests.

        That rapidly changed with the advent of his tally streak.

        "I conscionable said: 'I privation to look a fear, but I'm inviting it in,'" Sidibe recalls. "I wasn't pushing against it -- I'm inviting this happening successful that I don't truly know. I'm making it thing that possibly isn't that bad.

        Distance runner Hellen Obiri is moving thousands of miles from her location  successful  Kenya to prosecute  her marathon ambitions

        "I saw moving arsenic a privilege that not everyone has," helium continues. "I privation to usage that privilege of excavation erstwhile determination are radical retired determination who can't walk, fto unsocial run. It fuels this happening successful you, and you get retired determination and get it done -- determination are nary excuses."

        Growing up successful Mali, Sidibe would sometimes walk full days playing shot connected streets and fields adjacent his household home. He and his friends would idolize Brazilian large Ronaldo -- crudely coating his sanction and the fig 9 connected the backmost of their shirts -- and astatine the aforesaid time, Sidibe dreamed of playing for Chelsea successful the Premier League.

        When his household moved to the US, those aspirations gathered pace. Sidibe played NCAA Division 1 shot with the University of Massachusetts and aboriginal had involvement from clubs successful Major League Soccer and Bundesliga 2, the 2nd part successful Germany.

        He signed a nonrecreational declaration with Kitsap Pumas, an affiliate of the Seattle Sounders, but visa issues and a headdress connected the fig of non-US citizens permitted connected an MLS roster hampered his progress.

        Eventually, Sidibe gave up connected his shot career.

        "That hurts you -- it doesn't substance however hard you work, but this 1 portion of insubstantial is preventing you," helium says astir his visa problems.

        "Things that I wasn't successful power of, benignant of, enactment maine successful a authorities where, looking back, there's decidedly immoderate slump there. I was ever a blessed guy, but I recovered myself ever bittersweet ... I went into this acheronian spot successful my beingness wherever I didn't similar anything, I wasn't smiling arsenic much, and I didn't privation to speech to anyone arsenic overmuch arsenic I utilized to."

        Running crossed America

        Even present that Sidibe is simply a US citizen, helium has nary intentions of returning to soccer, his emotion for the athletics diminished having shuffled betwixt teams and trials.

        Over time, moving became the cornerstone of his life, and connected time 163, his fiancée convinced him to marque a YouTube video astir the tally streak.

        Entitled "why I tally each day," it proved an instant hit. Views and comments flooded in, and the brace became YouTubers "overnight," according to Sidibe. Today, their channel, HellahGood, has 276,000 subscribers, the apical videos amassing millions of views.

        As good arsenic updates connected his streak, the transmission besides documents Sidibe's acquisition taking connected feats of endurance -- including his caller information successful the Life Time Leadville Trail 100 Run, an iconic 100-mile contention successful Colorado, and a 3,061-mile, 84-day tally crossed America.

        Sidibe competes astatine  Leadville 100.

        Sidibe believes he's the archetypal Black antheral ever to implicit a solo tally crossed America, a feat helium accomplished past twelvemonth by moving an mean of much than 36 miles a time crossed 14 states.

        The situation tested much than conscionable his endurance. Sidibe says helium was stopped and questioned by the constabulary each day, each clip explaining however helium was completing a transcontinental tally for foundation -- fundraising for the non-profit Soles4Souls -- and that the RV up him was his two-person enactment team.

        He besides says helium was sworn at, called radical slurs, and adjacent threatened with a weapon portion moving connected Route 66.

        In betwixt those episodes, however, were "beautiful" moments: strangers offering him food, h2o and money, positive radical moving alongside him for stretches of the journey.

        "Even though I had each these hard times, these unsmooth times ... you couldn't beryllium huffy astir thing that was happening," says Sidibe. "So galore radical are putting their vigor and their powerfulness unneurotic conscionable to assistance you."

        The disfigured moments of the situation were a reminder to Sidibe that moving tin marque him susceptible to racist abuse.

        He says he's ne'er felt unsafe successful his vicinity successful New Jersey but makes a conscious effort to "look similar a runner" erstwhile helium ventures further afield. That means wearing distinctive moving cogwheel -- a vest, headphones, a backwards headdress not covering his look -- and carrying hiking poles connected trails and hills.

        "Even with the tally crossed America, the rod that I was holding helped a batch connected the hills, but a batch of the time, I didn't request it," Sidibe explains.

        "I cognize if I'm holding it and I person a vest on, it's going to marque maine look similar I americium doing thing -- I'm not conscionable a idiosyncratic running. People are utilizing my contention to marque judgments that shouldn't adjacent beryllium to people me."

        There were times during the tally crossed America erstwhile Sidibe paused to deliberation of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black antheral who was chased down and killed by 3 White men portion retired moving successful a vicinity adjacent Brunswick, Georgia.

        "That could person been me," says Sidibe, adding that Arbery's decease "scared truthful galore runners."

        "For me, it's important to beryllium retired determination to represent, to marque radical similar maine say: 'You cognize what, Hellah is doing it. I'm going to spell -- it's okay, we're fine, we're safe,'" says Sidibe. "Let's deliberation astir the affirmative broadside of it."

        Sidibe's changeless enthusiasm and infectious grin has endeared him to members of the moving community, to whom helium dispenses proposal and shares his acquisition of tally streaking.

        While immoderate would reason astir the value of remainder days successful immoderate grooming routine, Sidibe says helium manages his moving load by including lighter days -- sometimes going conscionable 2 oregon 3 miles astatine a clip -- and stays injury-free with stretching, massages, foam rolling and spot training.

        So far, he's managed to support his streak going done wounded -- dropping down to 14 miles a week portion managing harm to his posterior shin -- and country to region a contented tooth.

          Can Sidibe ever envisage his streak coming to an end?

          "Only the time I aftermath up and consciousness I perfectly don't similar this," helium says. "I springiness myself support to discontinue each day. There's nary unit to proceed and support it up."

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