Want to Run a Cross-USA Relay? Rachel Aldrich Takes the Challenge!

Salty Reader Rachel Aldrich is running for her mom, also a former runner.

When Salty Reader Rachel Aldrich contacted me through the Salty Running Facebook page, she had no idea Salty and I have a mom with MS too. She only knew she shared this with Ashley Kumlien, founder of MS Run the US, a cross-country running challenge to support Multiple Sclerosis research.
This year Ashley and the other folks at MS Run the US chose Rachel to run segment #16 of what has become a cross-country (literally!) relay run, which will take her about 162 miles from Joliet, Illinois (near Chicago) to Fort Wayne, Indiana. For about 8 days Rachel will be supported by friends, strangers, and Ashley herself, who will be sleeping and eating with Rachel in an RV as they traverse the Midwest toward the next runner.

As the year quickly comes to an end, it looks like MS Run the US may have enough open spots left so that Rachel may also run segment #18, from Willard, OH to Youngstown, OH–that’s 112 more miles!  MS Run the US is looking for more runners to fill these open legs…how about you?It’s no surprise that so many benefits for Multiple Sclerosis center around walking or running. As a runner and an active woman, MS is one of the scariest illnesses I can think of:  it attacks your nervous system and can deteriorate or destroy nearly any of your body’s functions with hardly a warning and seemingly without a reason.  This is the disease Rachel is running to fight, with a goal of raising $10,000.  I encourage you to help her on her way!  You never know, this money could push research over the edge toward finding a cure, or open the gate to preventative measures!

Imagine what your life would be like if, without any warning, your body began to change.  Imagine your legs were perfectly healthy, perfectly strong, but your brain just stopped being able to tell them what to do. Imagine if your hands couldn’t tie your shoelaces anymore because you couldn’t figure out which way to turn your fingers. Imagine if your eyes could no longer perceive distance and depth properly. Not only would running be out, but your whole life would be upside-down.

Ashley Kumlien, founder of MS Run the US, and her mother, Jill

Rachel knows about it – not only has her mother battled MS for the last 10 years, now her twin sister is starting to show early signs as well.   Salty and I know about it – our mom was diagnosed with MS in 2003, and although she’s currently doing relatively okay, there was a time when she was almost completely blind from the disease.  And Ashley Kumlien knows all about it – her mother, Jill, has had MS since 1980, which prompted Ashley to found a 501(c)3 charity and become the 16th woman to run across the USA, raising over $56K toward MS research. The current MS Run the US relay will involve between 16 and 22 runners and will follow the original course Ashley ran herself in 2010 from Los Angeles to New York City.

How You Can Help

EASIEST: Donate!
Rachel’s goal is to raise $10,000; that’s a big goal!  If I could give her every penny I would, believe me. But please join me in giving a small gift. If only 40 of us from the Salty Running Community give her $25 each that’s $1000!  TEN PERCENT of her goal! In fact, now only 39 of you all need to give Rachel a hand, because I just gave!  You can donate at http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/msruntheus/rachelaldrich AND share it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread the word!

SPICY: Volunteering, Fundraising, and Running Along
Conveniently for me, the last leg of the relay ends in New York City–my home!  Check out the cool interactive map at MSRuntheUS.com and see if the route comes near you.  If it doesn’t, check in with your local MS Society to make sure they know about the relay and to see if they’re interested in getting together a group of volunteers, or to organize a small fundraiser.  If it does, grab some pals, make some signs, and lace up your shoes to run alongside the relay!  I’m super excited to find out what I can do to support such a cool group of runners and help a cause close to my heart. To find out more about volunteering, check in with Amy Monroe, volunteer coordinator.

Rachel and her mom after the JFK 50 miler

INTENSE: Run a Leg of the Relay!
MS Run the US is still looking for runners, and they need to fill the spots ASAP to ensure the relay can go forward!  Legs 1, 2, 4, 6-11 and 18 are still open, which means YOU can get involved in this amazing and inspiring event! The requirements are:

  • Runners must be willing and able to run up to 140 miles in a week
  • Runners must be willing to assist in fundraising
  • Runners must be able to provide travel expenses (although runners raising $25k or more are completely reimbursed for travel!)

You can read more about how to get started on the sign up page of their site.  If you apply and are chosen, you, like Rachel, will be featured on Salty Running!


Do you have a friend or family member who’s suffered from MS?  Would you run up to 140 miles in a week for any reason?

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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