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On Tuesday, August 21st, extreme athlete, environmentalist and child advocate Tom Jones completed a 500-mile circumnavigation of Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. This set a new World Record for stand up paddling 500 miles in the shortest time. On the lake, there was no help from current, tide or wind. Distance paddled was certified by Virginia Department of Fish & Game officials who monitored Tom’s daily paddles.
Tom had not planned on setting any records. This paddle was actually a charity event teaming up The Tom Jones Foundation with the Safe Surfin’ Foundation to raise awareness and funding to educate kids, parents, teachers and law enforcement officials about Internet predators who pose a tremendous danger to children in their online activities.
Tom himself was a victim of serious and long-term child abuse. Though most know Tom for his environmental action (events for www.plasticfreeocean.org), he originally founded the Tom Jones Foundation to do everything he could to prevent child abuse and fight for other victims.
On Monday, August 6th, his first day on the lake, Tom decided to see how fast he could paddle the entire 520-mile shoreline. Averaging just over 31 miles per day, that turned out to be 16 days with an actual distance traveled of just slightly over 500 miles.
On Saturday, August 25th, Tom recreated his final paddle ashore where he was cheered as the special guest of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce at a beach party attended by more than 2000 people. Tom was escorted to the beach by the Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire & Rescue unit and Bedford County Sheriff’s Boat Patrol with water cannons blazing.
“We are so proud of Tom. His commitment to help protect children is matched only by his tremendous athleticism, power and endurance,” Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said.
In 2010, Tom captured the current SUP distance World Record by paddling from Key West, Florida, to New York City. He also holds the World Record for consecutive daily marathons. From California to New York City, Tom ran 26.2 miles a day every day for an incredible 121 days. On top of these feats and other ultra-endurance records, Tom is a 7-time Muy Thai Kickboxing champ including two World Championships. He is the oldest competitor ever to win a world championship in the sport.
You can follow Tom’s activities and support his fight against child abuse and plastic pollution at www.tomjonesextreme.com.