FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Justin Heffernan doesn’t love running. But, he loves races.

“I’m addicted to racing,” he said. “I don’t say ‘Yay! I get to run today!’ I do it because I want to do better in the race.”

Signing up for races also keeps giving Justin new goals. Each race, a small goal to help him achieve his main one: keep the weight off.

“The easiest thing about losing weight is losing weight. The hard part is keeping it off and I’ve just begun that journey,” he said.

In 2020, Justin weighed 326 pounds. He’s around 200 pounds now, and he’s not looking back.

“I’ve been 300 pounds and got down to 178 before and I don’t want to do that again,” he said. “I’m off all my medications and I want to stay that way. I have kids to take care of and I want to be there when they go off to college.”

Justin gets nutritional help and accountability from Parkview’s Weight Management program. He finds activity accountability and camaraderie in a running group.

“Watching his progress and seeing him make goals and then meet them and the whole group rejoices in his accomplishments,” Vicki Holder, who’s been Justin’s friend for 23 years and is in the running group with him, said.

Justin completed the Indy Mini half marathon earlier this year and will run the half marathon in Fort4Fitness on October 1.

“We’re all just right there with him like, ‘You got this,'” Brandon Krauter said.

Participating in races like Fort4Fitness also brings new levels of excitement to making it through the miles.

“Everyone is cheering you on and they have cowbells. The atmosphere is just incredible,” Justin said.

It’s an atmosphere that he re-creates with neighborhood fun runs.

“This year we’re just doing a quick one mile race and it’s going to be dress crazy and have fun. There will be people out here running and people who are walking and just having a good time,” he said. “Our goal is just to get a group of people together and maybe this will be the spark that gets them the push they needed [to get active].”

Justin hopes to beat his Indy Mini time of one hour, 51 minutes in the Fort4Fitness half marathon.

It’s not too late to register for this year’s Fort4Fitness either. Online registration goes through Wednesday night. There’s a four-mile run/walk, a 10K run, a half marathon and the triple crown – which is doing all three races back-to-back.

“You don’t have to go run it. Walk it. Maybe jog a few steps and walk a few steps,” Krauter said.

People can also register during packet pick-up at Parkview Field on Friday from noon to 8 p.m.

“You don’t have anyone to beat but yourself,” Hodler said.