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Clymer native seeks to inspire change through running

January 11, 2017
By Gavin Paterniti - , Westfield Republican

Even though he now lives thousands of miles away, Robert Newton is hoping to inspire area residents to step out of their comfort zone and be a positive change.

Newton, a 2006 graduate of the Clymer Central School District and current resident of Hemet, Calif., is now in the third year of his five-year endurance project "Pushing 4 Change" - a bifurcated initiative through which he hopes to maintain good physical health and help animals in need.

He moved to California in 2014 with his then fiancee, Jessica, who is now his wife. He said "Pushing 4 Change" was born when he decided that he would attempt to go the entire year without partaking in any kind of social media, Internet usage - aside from checking the daily news - or using any kind of modern technological devices.

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Robert Newton, a native of Clymer and current resident of Hemet, Calif., hopes to inspire area residents to step out of their comfort zone and be a positive change. Newton is pictured above during one of his endurance races, through which he aims to promote animal welfare.

"After reading a study stating we spend an average of 48 days per year on social media, I decided to fast from technology for 2014 in it's entirety," Newton said. "I refused to believe we could waste so much time in a virtual world instead of experiencing the world around us, and thought of all the things I do with an extra month and a half."

He subsequently decided to use this extra time productively and set out to fulfill 12 items off his rapidly expanding bucket list, at a rate of one item per month. He also began doing more outdoor activities, which he continued into the next year, such as hiking and, perhaps most significantly, running.

And thus "Pushing 4 Change" was born.

"I decided that I wanted to do something to effect change and give back, and so I created a five-year project to keep me motivated," he said.

He said he went on his first run in 2015, which went for seven miles. By October 2016, he had gone from essentially a non-runner to an ultra-marathon runner; competing in his first 100-mile run: the Joshua Tree Ultra 100-Miler in National Park, Cali. It was less than one year removed from his first competitive race, which took place in November 2015.

"When I did that first seven-mile run in 2015, it was the longest run I'd ever been on in my life," he said. "From there, I decided I would sign up for a marathon, and I made it through that OK. So I started climbing the ladder; going from 50-kilometer and 50-mile races up to 100-kilometer and 100-mile races. The distance hasn't broken me yet. I'm waiting for the first race that does. I've learned that it's more mental than anything; if you decide you're going to accomplish something, then you can do it."

In addition to running for his own benefit Newton also aims to promote animal welfare, as he dedicates each of his races to an animal rescue or a particular animal in need.

Thus far, he has assisted shelters from his own state of California to South Africa and Afghanistan. He was recently asked by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to run the 2017 Zion 100-Miler - which travels through Utah's Zion National Park in April - in promotion for the SPCA's Los Angeles Chapter, and the Orange County Pit Bull Rescue has asked him to promote one of their dogs through his participation in the 2017 San Diego 100 in June.

He said he always goes out of his way to find time to train for these races, as his schedule fluctuates.

"I always tell people that if something is important to them they'll find time for it," he said. "All it takes is a little sacrifice in the sleep department to make big things happen. As 2017 begins, I think that's a good bit of advice that can relate to any resolution."

Newton intends to conclude "Pushing 4 Change" endurance project at the end of 2020, but has set several more personal goals for himself to achieve during that time. His website,, contains information about the project's origins and a listing of his "dream races" he would like to master within his established timeline.

Newton grew up in Clymer and, upon graduation, went on to earn degrees in exercise science and sports management. He currently works as a surgical technologist in Hemet.

Robert and Jessica Newton married in August 2015, and together own Diego Farms in the valley of the San Jacinto Mountains - where their three dogs, alpacas, goats, potbelly pigs, chickens, stray cats and a parrot named "Jack" reside.

In addition to trail running, Newton enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, backpacking and anything that keeps him outside. To learn more about his inspirational story, visit or email



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