Transcon Run

Thank you everyone for your help with my transcontinental run. I did it! Starting in Seaside, Oregon on April 5th, 2012 – I managed to run 3,384 miles across the country to Boston. I finished after 107 days of running on July 20th, 2012. During this time, I took 4 rest days and averaged over 31 miles a day.

Clicking on this link will load all of the blog posts from my run, or you can browse the archives on the right side for April-July of 2012.

Why do a run like this? Why not? I’ve always been attracted to long overland journeys. I love to run and this was a great way to experience Americana. Many of my adventures have been outside the US or in the Pacific Northwest, and I thought it was time to explore a little more of Americana. I also managed to raised some funds for two great causes.

Testing the waters, Seaside, OR. 3/4/2012

 

Route
The route below is approximate and was planned largely by using the Google ‘Walk’ button between Seaside and Boston. Unfortunately, the large map size and lack of flexibility of the walk feature (I can’t drag the route onto the Interstate) makes it only good as a rough guide. I adjusted this route as I went, sometimes taking smaller roads, sometimes bigger. My location was tracked using a SPOT satellite tracker.

View Transcon v4 in a larger map

 

Frequently Asked Questions
These FAQs were posted on another part of this blog during the run, so they are all in present/future tense.


Where/When did you start? Which way are you going? Where are you finishing?

Seaside, Oregon on April 5th. I’m running east. Boston if it still feels like a fun and safe thing to do.

How long will it take?

About 4 months give or take. At best, it is 3200 miles. Add another 200 for detours and you have 3400. At 30 miles per day we have 113 days. Add 7 rest days and we are pushing a miniumum of 120 days. Others have done it unsupported in less – I am not them. Post Script: I finished on July 20th after 107 days of running.

Where is your car/rv/van?

I don’t have one. It would be too expensive, too much to ask of another, and it doesn’t sound that fun to me.  All of my gear is being pushed. It’s a solo run although I welcome anyone who wants to join.  It is unsupported by virtue of having no vehicle support, but I get help from many people and sometimes get shuttled to a home/campsite/motel by vehicle. I always return to the previous point before resuming my run. I don’t use vehicles to carry gear between points and I don’t run sections backwards.

That’s a funny looking bike.

It’s not a bike. I run next to it or behind. it. It’s a Baby Jogger II circa 1997. I got it on Craig’s List for $40. In fact, I bought two and one is in Seattle in case I need parts. Maybe 225 have run across with vehicle support, another 25 unsupported and of those, most have used something like this. A few have used backpacks. http://usacrossers.com/ is ‘the source’ for who has crossed.

Where do you sleep/shower?

I’m in motels 1/3. camping 1/3, and homes 1/3. I do what I can. I wear merino wool to increase the longevity of my clothing and decrease stink,  though there are limits! I have a pack towel, soap, all the rest.

What’s your budget?

Approximately $7,000, most on lodging costs. Hopefully I will be able to camp more. I didn’t seek sponsorship because I wasn’t sure if I could do the trip until the last minute.

What is your nutritional strategy?

This may make you cringe: I have none. I eat a lot of junk food. There isn’t a lot to choose from in tiny towns and suburbs. I am trying to purchase more whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. I am carrying Nuun, a great product and something I add to my water on hot days when I am worrying about my e-lytes. My caloric intake should be about 5-6k per day, I fall short of that currently and just bought a belt. It is interesting to be in a position where you have to eat as much as you can.

Are you sponsored?

Not really except for a Mtn Hardwear Pro-deal and some freebies and discounts from Fleet Feet in Seattle. Interested? Write me…see the how to help page.

What do you fear? 
Getting hit by a car probably first. Having an injury and needing to stop second. Another big fear is having a critical part on the jogger break in a remote place. Dogs. Getting caught out in the open (where I am most of the time) in freezing rain or worse.

How do you track mileage?
I use a bike computer that is attached to the baby jogger and calibrated for a 20 inch wheel. If I know I will have easy access to power (I am not camping for more than two days and cloud coverage is minimal) I will run the GPS and ‘Google Tracks’ on my Android phone. This is a rougher guide for mileage but does provide a geographic map of where I have been. I use the mileage as a backup, a couple times the sensor on the front wheel has become misaligned and the bike computer has fallen short. In these cases I have substituted the Google Tracks miles. As a final backup, I will google map where I have been. I log all of my miles here and am working on getting all the tracks uploaded into a map.

What else do you want to do?
Please tell me your ideas. It’s hard to come up with something original. What I have in my bucket still excites me: Everest North-South Traverse, Run the Great Himalaya Trail, Do all Seven Summits, Kite ski to South Pole, Run Badwater and Plain 100 and a lot of other ultras, Run the 4 Desert Series, Row the Atlantic, Run the PCT – ADT – CDT, ??

Water?
I have a gravity bag filtration system though I rarely need to use it as I am near towns, gas stations, or farms. I usually carry 2 1/2 liters each morning if I am not worried about access to water, otherwise I might pack a couple extra for dinner and the night. The gravity bags add two gallons of extra storage capacity which is much more than I will need. That said, water is heavy and some geographic areas have been challenging.

Gear

 

The main element of gear that everything relies on is a 19.4lb Aluminium Alloy, Baby Jogger II with 20 inch wheels. Before that sounds too fancy, let’s just say it is vintage 1997 and was purchased on Craig’s List for $40. This model was recommended by a representative at the company over everything except arguably  the Anniversary 25th Performance Edition which was discontinued last year and still retails (when found) at over $485. Too much for my blood. I bought a Jogger II and one to spare, leaving the spare in Seattle.

Within this ‘jogger’ is an Osprey Talon 33l backpack. The rationale is to keep gear contained and also that I can run with this backpack if the jogger develops a mechanical problem. I have run with this backpack before on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Other gear I have on board:

Hardshell Pants: Marmot Precips, full zip. Wedged into the side for quick access.
Hardshell Jacket: Patagonia. Very waterproof, good price, pit zips, bright orange color. Wedged into the side for quick access.
Insulation Jacket: Patagonia Down Puffy
Long sleeve base layer: Ice Breaker Merino Wool Long Sleeve 160wt.
Short sleeve base layer: Ice Breaker Merino Wool 160 wt.
Camp Pants: Light Arc Teryx climbing pants,
Running Pants: Nike
Running Shorts: 3 pairs.
Underwear: Icebreaker Merino Wool Beast, Ex Officio Briefs, REI synthetics.
Socks: Three pairs Smartwool Phds, One pair light weight socks.
Insulation Hat: Smart wool merino beenie,
Sun Hat: OR Desert Cap with removable side panels.
Tent: Ultralight weight 2 person Big Agnes.
Sleeping Bag: Feathered Friends Ultralight Vireo
Sleeping Pad: Ridge Rest
Power: Goal0 Sherpa 50w Lithium Battery and a 14.5w flexible solar panel.
Misc: Eagle Creek zipper bags for food (2), multi-tool, toiletry bags (2), metal water bottles (2), gravity water bag by platypus, headlamp, misc bike lights, amphipod running vest, mizuno wave rider 15 shoes, one extra tire, two extra tubes, pump, smart phone, SPOT beacon, Olympus  micro 4/3rds DSLR PEN-1.

Thanks

No one has ever said running across the country is an easy journey, but the help I’ve received from many people has made many a steep hill more gentle. Thanks to all those who have  stopped to talk with me, whether through their driver window and a message via a social network.And thanks to those drivers who are aware of their environments, not on their cell phones, and more than willing to give three feet while not taking my two feet. And thanks that have given financially and/or in kind. In particular, thanks to the following people and forgiveness for anyone I have accidentally missed:

Dana Farber Cancer Institute Contributions

Amy V., Anne J., Arnold H., Barbara H., Benjamim J., Brian B., Brian C., Christine F., Dawn C., Dennis G., Erin L., Erin A., Glenn C., Jennifer E., Jim R., Julie M., Mary C., Mary R., Matt F., Maura C., Mimi L., Nichole S., Nicole C., Pablo T., Pablo C., Patricia A., Teresa I., Thad J., Yating Y..

Sherpa Schooling Fund Contributions
Dennis G. ,John Y J, David L., Jami J., Mary R., Glen M., Elizabeth S., Blake D., Andrew L.,
Greg W., Kathleen H., Barbara N., Autolite S., Blake D., Tim S., Glenn C., Anne L., Laurie R., Suzanne S., Alysha G., Huong N., Rebecca R., Leslie H., Heartwood Guitar Instruction Stacy E., Nigel B., Tania G.,
Aaron K., Edward S., Kelly F., Bob K..Trip Fund/Beer Fund (closed ~3 weeks into the run)Anthony F., Mary C., Barbara H., Karl T., John T., Erin L., Mary C., Barbara H., Karl T., John T., Erin L..
In Kind Contributions 
Pre-departure

Nichole Sellon for a pair of Mizuno road shoes and lots of food from TJs and good advice, Fleet Feet of Seattle for gear discounts, Mountain Hardware for a pro-deal, John Wallace (2004-5 crosser) of  http://usacrossers.com for advice, Glenn Caffrey (2011 crosser) and Patrick McGlade (2010 crosser) for sage advice. Molly and Stacy Cherney for letting me store stuff in their garage,  a big thanks to Matt Bonds for driving me to Seaside from Seattle at short notice…and James Shapiro for inspiring me with his book on running across America ‘Meditations from the Breakdown Lane‘ (not an affiliate link), and Leslie Hannay for the Sherpa bag donation and much else. Mom and Rafael for the inspiration and advice. Michelle Hill for getting me to sign up for a 5k fun run back in ~2005. Sister Robin, Beth Morrell, Ernie T., and Jennifer Elliot whose marathon training efforts inspired me to sign up for my first in 2006.

Oregon: Joel at REI in Portland for fixing the jogger, Tandra Schmidt and Steve in Portland for putting me up for the night, Mary at REI for hooking me up with gear deals, Esther and husband Stan and children Mariah and Miles for picking me up at Cascade Locks and putting me up for the night in Carson and thanks to Claudia, Stan’s mother for shuttling me back to the locks. Thanks to Krissy Fagan for hooking me up with former housemates Peter and Bill who put me up for the night in Hood River 4/10, thanks to Dan for a free night in Rufus at the Hillview Motel and thanks to Marylynn in Boardman for a free room at the Dodge City Inn. Officer Grant Jackson and his wife who offered me a place to stay in La Grande and Krissy Fagan’s friend Josie who actually put me up for the night in La Grande.

Idaho: Robert and Dale at the Durkee Gas Station, Officer Grant Jackson La Grande, The Malgren Family in Boise, Chris at REI in Boise for tricking out my ride, Seth for running with me, Marian Lane and family in Fairfield, Justin in Arco for the great hotel room, Cate Stillman and Family for putting me up in Tetonia and Kathleen Hurley for connecting us up.

Wyoming: Carri Ullner for showing me around Jackson Hole. Sam Bixby for a room at Jackson Hole Lodge and also coordinating a room at the Hatchet Resort – and Ron for saving dinner and Pat for the administrative approval at the resort. Frank the flagger for being on my side unofficially, Glen for finding me twice on the road and giving me cold sodas, Rhonda and the Powder River post master for the water, Steve Smith (Beth’s Dad) for finding me on the road, The bartender west of Shoshoni for the free beer, the cold beer and great digs after 41 dry miles to Hiland, Jacque in Douglas for passing me beta on Lost Springs, Larry Stone for the beer in Lusk, everyone who honked and waved and everyone who I forgot to thank.

Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana: Shannon LaMaster and Paula McNerney for new shoes. Sarah Olson Garman and Mark Smirz from Mitro and Craig Haynee and Larry Swanson from the Coyote running groups for running with me and shuttling me around. Many people on the road for water and good cheer, Dan Price and Nichole Sellon in Chicago. Marlin Peters outside Breinbeck (sp?) – for dinner. Ben and Sophie and David for the shuttles and food. Cousin Margot and Spike also for shuttles and food.

Ohio, Penn, NY, MA: A big thanks to my aunt Mimi and uncle Dick for helping me celebrate my birthday in style. And my sister Robin for driving down from New York and shuttling me around for a couple days. Staying at my cousin Jean and her husband Milt’s place on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania was incredible – thanks also to Dan for helping me out around the place. Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine of Erie worked wonders to fit me into their busy schedule to check out an issue with my knee; later I found that they reversed most of the charges. My Mom and Raphael took me out to an amazing dinner; and my first day in NY we were hosted by my cousin Harold and his wife Barbara and family. Running east, Chris Collins put in a lot of miles shuttling me across two days and hosting me at his house. I was treated to a really nice breakfast in Geneseo NY by Donna Berry’s friend (whose name escapes me) and closing in on Albany my friends Dave and Andre shuttled me and fed me an amazing meal before putting me up for the night. Andre’s sister Jennifer, one of my best friends from ‘way back’, had met me earlier in the day with Diane and brought me lunch and cold drinks on the road. I saw both of them a couple days later and a big thanks goes out for all of the shuttling and hosting and running by both. In Massachusettes I ran with Glen Cafferey and was also hosted by him. So fun to run with him, he crossed in 2011 so it was great to trade stories. Closer to Boston, I was hosted again by cousin Harold and Barbara and family. And a big thanks to my sister Robin for driving down and biking the last 10 miles along with Harold. Great to have company on the home stretch. Thanks to everyone who was at the finish and Erin Lindsey for hosting me that last night in Boston.Last, thanks to all the people I failed to mention on this page. I received so many random acts of kindness and my mind wasn’t always in the best shape to write them down.It was a great adventure.~Seth.

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