By EMMA K CARTER
Our Race Across the USA team recently hit a big mile marker. Since beginning this race on January 16th our ten core runners, accompanied by numerous state runners, have run 30 marathons in a row. They are now more than 25% of the way through the full course, and currently half-way through New Mexico, having just completed stage ten.
This hasn’t been easy on our runners. Most were injured or sick or both a week ago—stomach aches, congestion, blisters, cramps, a sore Achilles tendon, previous injuries flaring up—but now everyone is mostly healthy.
“Our bodies have adapted,” says runner Darren Van Soye. “We’ve made adjustments. We’ve gotten into a groove. Our confidence is up and the team has gelled. It’s still a grind—I have a few little aches and pains, my back hurts—but we’re having fun.”
Fun is the key word. It’s true, running a marathon every day is serious work, but our team members have all found ways to amuse themselves or keep their spirits high along the journey.
Runner Linda Mazenko listens to music. “Anything from the ‘70s to now…Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, whatever has good rhythm and helps me move on the road.”
Runner Jessica Hardy also listens to music on the road—in fact, she has two iPods, one for walking or taking it easy and one just for running, filled with upbeat dance music. “Also, we find things along the road sometimes,” says Hardy. “Usually I just take a picture of it and leave it there, but once I found a Ken Barbie doll and almost took it with me!”
Some others runners have actually picked up traveling companions along the way, although not necessarily off the side of the road. Runner Nancy Bennett enjoys taking in the beautiful scenery and making friends with local wildlife—especially horses and donkeys—so she found herself her very own travel companion in Arizona: Westi the stuffed zebra, who’ll be running with her all the way to the White House!
Our team also enjoys the pit stops they get to make along the way, visiting local schools and speaking to rooms full of children about the importance of staying healthy. They’ve spoken to almost 2,000 students in nine schools so far.
“My favorite visit was in the Magdalena area, in New Mexico,” says Jessica Hardy. “When we walked into the school an overwhelming amount of trophies met us in the front room. The entire student body came to the assembly and they all had great pride in their school and sports teams. They even asked me to come back later that night to watch the girl’s basketball game, where I cheered them on as they won!”
There’s still a long road ahead, but the Race Across America team is going strong, all united in their passion to inspire healthy life choices and to raise money and awareness for the 100 Mile Club, a national, school-based program that challenges children to run or walk 100 miles during a school year. The program also teaches kids life skills, goal setting, and increases self-esteem while making physical activity a healthier habit for life. Proceeds from the Race Across USA event will directly sponsor students and program implementation in new and currently participating schools. For more information on donating to or participating in the event, click here.