Road Trip – Driving the Race Across USA Route Backwards

In April, we published an article entitled Scouting the Route for Race Across USA. This is a follow up article that covers our actual experience as we drove the 3,080-mile route from Washington DC, through twelve states, all the way back to California. This “road trip” took us two-and-one-half weeks. Before we left, we set several goals:

  • To validate the actual course and safety of the route
  • To determine where the aid stations would be located
  • To meet with local officials to discuss event possibilities
  • To publicize the race with local media
  • To meet the coaches at existing 100 Mile Club® schools to get them excited about our event

Race Across USA – 3 Minute Overview from Race Across USA on Vimeo.

Route Work

PavementEndsEach day, we surveyed an average of six to eight segments. So, each day represented approximately a week’s time during the actual race starting in January 2015. We worked hard to select the back roads which reduced the number of cars we passed but this also limited our speed. Along the way, we determined the viability of the route and safety of the course, noting areas of concern. In a few cases the road did not match Google Maps. For example, in Mississippi there was bridge on the map that no longer existed in reality. In Alabama, there was construction that caused us concern. In New Mexico, Google routed us right through the middle of a high school. In a few cases, we had inadvertently selected unpaved roads. This was okay, just unexpected.

We took notes on every stage, denoting the width of the shoulders, traffic, speed limits and school locations. Every six to eight miles, the navigator (usually Sandy) noted aid station locations and verified stage start/end points for each day. I (Darren) ran four-to-six mile sections of the route in most states to get a better feel for what it would be like during the race. We took notes about limited voice and data cell coverage (we have AT&T). Further, we visited grocery stores to view selection of fruits and vegetables. We stayed in hotels along the route to understand accommodations (room sizes, breakfast options, etc.). We also noted campgrounds/RV parks along the route.

Local Officials

One of our core team runners use to live in Sanford, NC and is still friends with the publisher of the local newspaper there. Through the publisher, we made contact with the Superintendent of Schools and later the Director of Student Services for Lee County. She has already booked the civic center there in May 2015 and has committed to getting the community out in the evening when the race comes through.

RosewellThe Deputy Mayor of Ft. Worth got us in contact with an organization called Fit Worth. This organization has already committed to a Street Fair on the day we run through their community. It just so happens that Ft. Worth will be in the middle of a ten-week fitness challenge in their community. This was a lucky coincidence, indeed. In attendance, will be leaders from the city, the Dallas Cowboys and lots of kids!

We met with the Mayor Pro Tem in Roswell. While we were there, he booked their convention center for us and even committed to having all of their 4th graders there when we run through Roswell in February 2015. They have also discussed giving us the use of their museum (which is close to the convention center). We are looking into a fundraiser that evening.

Local Press

FrontPageWe were interviewed by the local press in Sanford, NC and Roswell, NM. In fact, we made the front page in Roswell! That told me that we were on to something because this was just the scouting mission. Just think what they would do for the “real thing”! It was then that we realized that the local press is starving for local stories and that the actual race would likely make it on front pages all across the country. Roswell also has two TV stations and of course, several radio stations.


SchoolsFinally, we had the opportunity to visit schools in South Carolina, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We were treated like rock stars there. The kids were asking me for my autograph! These were schools that already had 100 Mile Club® implemented. It was great to see the impact that this program was making! We committed to returning to each one of the schools during our journey which starts January 16, 2015.

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 donate or volunteer! Teachers, please click here.

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