Man loses 71 pounds, runs 5k to celebrate

Derek Gard runs the 5k at the Fort Wayne Trail's annual Trail Blazer race to celebrate losing 71 pounds.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Hundreds of runners helped support Fort Wayne’s trails at the annual Trail Blazer race on Sunday. One man used the event as a way to celebrate his recent weight loss.

Three months ago, Derek Gard joined a weight loss boot camp at his workplace, Brotherhood Mutual, that operates a lot like the T.V. Show the Biggest Loser. The camp is run by the organization, Fort Wayne’s Smallest Winner.

Before joining the competition, Gard weighed 305 pounds. After the 12-week contest, he was down to 234 pounds. That’s a grand total of 71 pounds.

He and the rest of his competitors ran in the Trail Blazer race as a celebration and final challenge.

Gard ran the 5k race.

“There’ll probably be some moments where I want to quit and I get tired, but I think I’m going to push through and finish the whole thing running,” he said before the race. “No walking today. That’s my goal.”

There was a lot of pain and struggle that led up to this race. Gard went through 12 weeks of hard training and dieting.

“There would be days where maybe I didn’t eat the stuff that I was supposed to or I didn’t give everything in my workout, but tomorrow’s always a new day and what you did yesterday has nothing to do with what you’re going to do tomorrow,” he said.

Gard has advice for anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps.

“Don’t listen to those thoughts in your head that you can’t do it,” he said. “If you start and you make a mistake, you know you just have to keep going.”

His race time was 33:56.

“It was a pretty surreal moment to be able to do that and to finish and not quit,” he said. “I ran the whole way. That was a big goal to be able to run and finish the whole thing.”

His trainer Tina Walters, co-founder of Fort Wayne Smallest Winner, was excited to see Gard finish the race.

“I was jumping up and down,” she said. “Seeing him cross the finish line was like seeing all that hard work, 12 weeks of hard work, come across the finish line. He did it.”

Gard plans to lose another 10 to 15 pounds and thinks he’ll start training for a marathon in the spring.

The Trail Blazers race took place at Summit Middle School. There was a 10k race, a 5k walk/run and a one-mile kids’ fun run. The run was on the Aboite trails section of the Fort Wayne Regional Trails System. Proceeds from the event go towards the development of a connected multipurpose trail system in Allen County.