Run Across the USA: Revisiting a Big Dream

If you have been reading Salty Running since the early days, you might remember posts about my goal of a Trans-America crossing and record attempt. Unfortunately, in 2015 I had to pull out of my dream. At the time I was entering the final year of my doctoral program, and health problems first landed me in the hospital, then at the Mayo Clinic. It was devastating, to say the least, but I salvaged what I could of the process and the training by donating the funds I’d raised to RAINN and running my first 100-mile race.

Even as my identity as a runner changed, I never gave up on that dream. So I’m happy to share that in the summer of 2021, I will attempt the Women’s Fastest Known Time (FKT) for a Trans-America crossing.

This time around, I will be running to promote the value of outdoor and endurance sports while raising money for Girls on the Run, an organization that helps bring running, empowerment, and advocacy to girls across the United States. It’s the right cause for this run, the reason I’m running, and an avenue to connect with women across the country.

Even though my first bid didn’t play out the way I’d hoped I still learned a great deal from it. As a result, I’m approaching this attempt much differently.

  • First, I’ll be starting on the East Coast in May. This will hopefully allow me to take advantage of cooler temperatures and avoid too much snow when running through the Rockies.
  • If I’m not able to raise the support I need through grants and sponsorships by March 2021, I’ll delay the run. It is imperative that I have the right gear and support in place, and the right media attention to make the run a successful fundraising campaign for Girls on the Run. If necessary, I’ll wait until I’m best positioned to make that happen.
  • I am going to complete “mini” FKTs over the next two years to train, prepare, and to attract attention for the ultimate attempt. These efforts will help me test and troubleshoot gear, tech, crew, and logistics. My first FKT attempt will take place at the Collegiate Trail Loop in Colorado this August.

Two women watch the finish of the soldier marathon

Why I think this attempt will be a success:

I’m in much better physical shape. Not only is my health better than it has ever been, I also have five more years of successful racing and ultra running experience.

I have more awareness of what I’ll need to make this attempt a success and I’ve embraced the possibility that it might not go as planned, even when it comes to the start day (or month or year), and that’s okay.

I have an amazing coach that I trust and believe in. I’m not going to overthink the training – in fact, I don’t even read training tips any more. That’s her job, and I trust her to do it.

Currently my focus is on to planning, logistics, and grants to support the treks. I’m also looking for at least one larger sponsor to help make the run happen and an RV to serve as run HQ over the duration of the run. Any suggestions, referrals, or help will be much appreciated!

My focus during each trek will be raising money for Girls on the Run International. I’m hoping to be able to connect with local chapters throughout each adventure. If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be posting regular updates here. More details will come, of course, with route, timeline, and schedule coming as we get closer to the run. I’m so excited about this journey and glad I can share it with you here!

What are your questions? Concerns? Ideas? I’m here for them!

Contribute to Girls on the Run Here!

Ultrarunner, adventurer, academic, and feminist. Running Across the USA in 2021. I write about ultrarunning, adventuring, and the intersection of endurance athletics and life.

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