Run America – Honoring the Past, Looking to the Future

Below is a post about our plans for the transcontinental crossing. Suffice it to say that things didn’t turn out as anticipated (the run actually began in September 2008 in San Francisco), but we’ve left this here as a record of our original intentions. [updated 11/18/10]

On March 22, 2008, World Water Day, ultra-extreme athletes Charlie Engle and Marshall Ulrich will begin Run America in Seattle, WA. Their goal is to run 3,200 across America fast enough to break the world record. That means Charlie and Marshall will have to run an average of at least 68 miles each and every day, for 47 days, ending in Washington D.C. on or before May 7, 2008.

Having already accomplished amazing things in their lives – Charlie ran for 111 consecutive days, covering 4,500 mile across the Sahara Desert in Africa, and Marshall recently completed his 20th crossing, for a total of 2,990 miles, of Death Valley on foot – setting another record is not the driving force for these men. Instead, honoring runners who have come before them, and bringing attention to the need for clean water and the eradication of extreme poverty is what will motivate them to Run America.

Paying tribute to the past, Charlie and Marshall will tell the story of the father of long distance running in America, or “ultrarunning,” Ted Corbitt, who competed in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and the marathon at the 1952 summer Olympics in Helsinki. Corbitt founded the Road Runners Club, won the first New York City Marathon, and helped to establish guidelines for the accurate measurement of courses. They will also honor people like 70-year old Edward Payson Weston, who walked 3,611 miles across America in 90 days in 1910, and Andy Payne, who won the first Bunion Derby race in 1928 by running 3,422 miles in 84 days.

Looking to the future, they will use the internet to provide 24/7 coverage of Run America, including video clips and daily postings highlighting the need for clean water in every city in America, and around the world. Run America will be talking to people about water, asking them to get involved, including urging citizens to get out and vote. In selected cities along the route, people will be invited to run with Charlie and Marshall in special Run America races, encouraging fitness for us and our children.

Charlie explains, “Our dream is for Run America to introduce the real America to people around the world – from the small towns to the big cities; from the sea shores, to the mountains, to the plains – we want the world see the quality of the people of America. We want Run America to be a catalyst for the revitalization of America.”

Run America will be working with various corporate sponsors, and internet and marketing companies, to allow them to complete the challenge. Run America will also raise money for selected charitable organizations focusing on water, the eradication of poverty, and providing an education – and thus an opportunity – for people around the world. Details on sponsors and charities will be provided soon.

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Charlie Engle, 44, has competed in over 100 triathlons, 40 marathons, 20 ultras, and countless adventure races and runs in exotic locations around the world. In 2007, he completed the 4,500 mile Sahara Run, running for 111 consecutive days across Africa. He is a certified SCUBA diver and white water guide and an accomplished mountain climber, having summited Denali with Team Stray Dogs in 2002.

Marshall Ulrich, 56, is the only person in the world to complete the Triple Crown of Extreme Sports: he has completed 118 ultras averaging over 100 miles each; has climbed each of the Seven Summits, including Mount Everest; and has completed 12 expedition-length adventure races, including competing in all 9 Eco Challenges. Founder of Team Stray Dogs, Marshall is also a published author and experienced public speaker. He guides groups on mountains around the world, conducts training clinics, and has raised over $700,000 for various charities.

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