Core Team

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. At the present time, 12.5 million children, ages 6-19 in the United States are obese. Many more are overweight. Starting January 16, 2015, an international team of athletes will begin a 4 1/2 month journey, running the equivalent of 117 back-to-back marathons across the United States with the goal of inspiring a healthier generation. Join us as we run across the country. Apply for the core team, cross a state or run one of thirteen 4-day challenge events. If you are not a runner, you can sponsor, donate or volunteer! Teachers, please click here.


Newton Baker – Vermont, USA 
Total Raised: $7,380 Pledge80 What’s this?

I have two adult children: Jeremy and Jessica and two teens, Silas who we just dropped off at college, and Devin, a high school sophomore. I have three grandchildren: Sawyer, Wyatt, and Peyton. In 2007 I had successful prostate surgery, broke an ankle ice skating in March 2008, and am a stage zero Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia patient the past 12 years. I have an interesting inherited voice condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia, causing halting speech.

Converting from baseball pitcher to runner, I have run 175 marathons, 45 or so ultras, finished The Vermont 100 Trail Run 5 times and have won my age group 14 of the past 20 years in the USA 24 Hour Run National Championship. I have run across Vermont in two days and the length of Vermont in four.

I taught elementary school, grades three to five, for 35 years. I created the block walk/run with my class: a half mile course around the school, kids were challenged to do a half or a mile. They took their pulse before and after, recorded it with their cumulative mileage and some ran in a kids race at the end of the year, sponsored by the Vermont City Marathon. I developed many health-related programs around this activity.

Trained by the National Writing Project, I enjoyed writing with my students. We produced a Leaf Peeper Poetry Booklet handed out to tourists arriving by bus at our capitol, a Hubcap Poetry Booklet based on hubcaps we painted, a Pumpkin Company selling stock to raise money to sell 100 pumpkins and performed Shadow theater and Blacklight Theater, including a circus with gigantic cardboard animals. Now eight years retired, I continue to volunteer in local schools helping with writing and I participate in local poetry slams for fun.

Nothing is a bigger challenge or more important to me than doing something to inspire children to play and become fit, positive, caring people! Race Across USA is a call to do just that. And the race starts on my 73rd birthday. Join me and celebrate kids!!

Nancy Bennett – Texas, USA 
Total Raised: $10,000 Pledge80 What’s this?

I live with my devoted and supportive husband Ted and our Black Lab – Cowgirl. We have three awesome granddaughters, a lovely daughter-in-law, and an extraordinary son.
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After completing a cross country bicycle ride in 1998, which was a fundraiser for the American Lung Assn., I was looking for a new challenge. Eventually a flyer from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society came in the mail informing me about Team in Training and running a marathon! I ran my first marathon in 2001, at the age of 50, with Team in Training. By 2012 I had run 60+ marathons, with at least one marathon in each state and the marathon where it all began… in Athens, Greece. With the 50 states completed, what challenge next? Ultra running, of course! I’ve run a few 50Ks, a 55K, three 50 milers, and one 100 miler. And what next? The Race Across USA benefiting the 100 Mile Club is the perfect answer!

I am a retired educator with over 30 years in varying aspects of education: special ed./regular ed. teacher, educational diagnostician, supervisor, and administrator. I spent my entire career helping children, mostly children with special needs, so being an ambassador for the 100 Mile Club is a perfect fit for me! It allows me to continue to dedicate my efforts in support of children.

I love the 100 Mile Club mantra: Accept a challenge, Set a goal, and See it through bit by bit. That’s exactly what I’m going to do on the Race Across USA. I can hardly wait to interact with all the students!

Bryce Carlson – Indiana, USA  
Total Raised: $3,342 Pledge80 What’s this?

Bryce is an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University, where his work examines the dietary environment of wild chimpanzees and gorillas to better understand human dietary evolution.

In sport, Bryce rowed in college at the University of Michigan before coaching at the collegiate and high school levels for eight years while he finished up with graduate school at Emory University. Throughout that period he took up running and has raced competitively on roads and trails from 5K to 100 miles. Most recently he completed the 2013 Midwest Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, finishing four of the oldest 100-mile trail races across the Midwest in one summer.


Steven Cooper – North Carolina, USA  

In the fall of 2009, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Perplexed that I weighed over 200 pounds, I left the house with the intention to buy a bike and ended up with a pair of sneakers. It was about that time that I learned that the LA Marathon had changed its course for 2010 to start at Dodger Stadium. As a lifetime Dodgers fan, this discovery led me to sign up. Finishing my first marathon changed the course of my fitness life and I was hungry for more.

Later in 2010 I completed the Kauai Marathon. On the flight back to the mainland I read Bart Yasso’s book, “My Life on the Run”. Bart listed his 10 ‘Must Do Events’ and while reading his book I found my next challenge – the 2011 Comrades Marathon (56.1 miles) in South Africa.

In 2012, the challenge for the year was the Lean Horse 100 Mickelson Trail through Black Hills of South Dakota – my first 100 mile race! Then, two months later, I ran the 100 Mile Club® Endurance Challenge (100EC). In 2013, I challenged myself to run at least one marathon per month with ultras added in along the way. I like to call these ‘jog-a-cations’ or ‘run-a-cations’ as I usually registered for races in tropical areas. Hawaii is my top choice with the Maui Invitational being one of my favorite sporting events!

The challenge for 2015 is to Run Across USA! I feel humbled and honored to be a part of the RAUSA Core team taking the message of the 100 Mile Club®, COAST TO COAST!


Jessica Hardy – California, USA  
Total Raised: $3,919 Pledge80 What’s this?

My name is Jessica Hardy and I have been passionate about all sports as long as I can remember. I have my bachelors degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

This year has been full of change for me. I lost my father in July due to complications of diabetes. I recently sold my house and moved from Memphis, TN to Dana Point, CA to be closer to my mother. This run across the USA is in honor of my father, Jesse Adam Hardy, Sr, who struggled with obesity all of his life. Being a nurse and an athlete, it was a challenge for me to watch his struggle. Jessica Hardy I love the concept of the 100 Mile Club® and can’t wait to impact children from coast to coast in such a positive way.

In my younger years, organized sports like soccer and basketball were what I was consumed with. I played basketball, softball and track in high school and was recognized on the Wall of Fame in 2000 at Dana Hills High School for my athletic abilities. I am coaching the girls basketball team at Dana Hills High School until the start of this journey. I have been on a triathlon team in Memphis called Terrapin Racing for the past few years. My current passion is endurance running and cycling. I enjoy competing in trail running and distance running. I have competed in numerous races from 5k to a 69 mile distance race. Its not just about the competition and winning, I am more about the cause I’m helping to raise funds for in remembrance of my father.

After the Race Across USA I plan to do the thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.


Christopher ‘Irish Goat’ Knodel – Texas, USA 
Total Raised: $2,480 What’s this?

I left the US Army in 1996 as a disabled combat veteran battling depression, chronic smoking and alcoholism. I spent over a decade wallowing in self-pity and sloth. And then, at 230 pounds, I began running in 2009,. I just slid on my shoes and ran. It wasn’t pretty, and I threw up twice. It has been four years since and I am still running.

Running recreated my life. Every step served a purpose. I regained health, self-worth and pride. Since those first footfalls, I have completed over 250 competitions, ranging from Ironman Triathlon and Powerman Duathlon to ultra-marathon and international stage races. I do not race against others. I merely race against myself.

Those first steps have evolved to a regimen that transports me down a path of wellness and peace. Without running, I never would have known that there was a world of trails, trees and mountains. I fear that without running, I never would have lived at all.

As a Race Across USA Ambassador, I will strive to help others see beyond the world of concrete and cubicles. I want them to look up from their cell phones and tablets to realize what is truly out there. We all have lives, families and schedules, but it only takes a fraction of our time to truly live. I know I will not return to the days of obesity and addiction; nor will I confine myself to a life only rewarded by four walls and a commute. Instead, I relish my career as an ultra-marathon and triathlon coach, fitness columnist, motivational lecturer, fitness author, run-clinic lead and personal trainer.


Linda Mazenko – California, USA 
Total Raised: $3,300 Pledge80 What’s this?

My name is Linda Mazenko. I’ve been married to the love of my life for 28 years. We have two wonderful sons, ages 23 and 25.
My three passions in life are helping adults with special needs find employment, health and fitness and RUNNING. My love for running influences all aspects of my life and I have learned to appreciate the many blessings that I have encountered along the way. As a runner on the core team for the Race Across USA, I hope to help educate, entertain, encourage and motivate young kids across the United States to become physically fit.


Alex Ramsey – Hawaii, USA 
What’s this?

At night, Illuminated by his grandma’s headlights, Alex began running around the block at age 9. As a youth he enjoyed the places his running took him. So much, that he never wanted to stop.

On the middle school track team, he found a passion for the 800 meters. He found that there was great satisfaction in speeding around an oval twice. So much that he continued to run the event through college.

Maybe Alex suffered from post-grad blues, because the next summer he took off his shoes. By being barefoot he listened to the ground. The sound it made told him to run.

He runs across the country for the opportunity to spread a positive message. The joy of movement. He is focused on sharing his passion with the youth. That they may know that they can reach their highest potential.


Darren Van Soye – California, USA 
Total Raised: $2,742 Pledge80 What’s this?

Darren began running in 2005 after his doctor challenged him to exercise a minimum of forty-five minutes, three times a week. After attaining strength, he signed up for his first race — a half marathon in early 2006, which he ran with his oldest daughter, Lauren.

Even though he candidly stated that running marathons were “insane,” he ran a marathon later that year. He took up swimming and biking, and then signed up, and finished a Half Ironman in 2008, followed by a Full Ironman in 2009. While he enjoyed the challenge of triathlons, he constantly thought about longer running events. In quick succession, he completed a 50-mile trail event and 100K (62 mile) race. It was at this point that he worked on creating a new 100-mile event with Kara Lubin, the founder of the 100 Mile Club®. In 2010, Darren and Kara invited other runners to participate in the first 100-Mile Endurance Challenge Ultramarathon and raised $7,000 for the 100 Mile Club®. In March 2011, Darren created another ultra-event – the Run for Kids 24-Hour Ultramarathon, which raised another $7,000 for the 100 Mile Club®.

Darren loved the idea of challenging himself physically to run these races whilst raising money for such a worthy charity. His imagination turned to how he could take the message of the 100 Mile Club® across the country. This was the genesis of the Race Across the USA.


Robert Young – United Kingdom  
What’s this?

Feeling inspired while watching TV coverage of this year’s London Marathon, British Runner Rob ran his very first 26.2 miler on 14th April 2014, and again every day thereafter, until more than quadrupling the World Record for consecutive daily marathons!

By the start of Race Across USA, Rob will have run more than 272 marathons, including all of UK’s hardest marathon races & 28 ULTRA marathons (of up to 110 miles), totaling an astonishing 7,143 miles in just 7 months.
10468659_726240330793561_3649694330916847095_n Running to inspire disadvantaged kids, childhood abuse survivor Rob has amazed the running world with highlights including: running 88 miles, with 17,500 feet of climbing, in less than a day. Rob has even run 188 miles (including a sub-24 hour finish on his first ever 100-miler) and the equivalent of seven marathons in just 44 hours (remarkably, only days after having both knee sacks drained).

Burning almost 1.2 million calories in 221 days, Rob remains on schedule to beat the World Record of 367 marathons in 365 days by the 2015 (and his first) London Marathon. Rob is relishing the opportunity to join an amazing bunch of Race Across USA runners – all inspiring and encouraging kids to get active and go #BeyondLimits to pursue their own dreams. Lets get behind RAUSA and inspire a generation of kids!

3 comments on “Core Team
  1. Bob Davidson says:

    Great story about you evolving into an ultra runner and fundraiser. Cheers, Burrito Bob Davidson.

  2. Jackie thayer says:

    Absolutely awesome and amazing!!! If you ever need a nurse/runner for your team let me know!