From 2006 through 2011 I ran thousands of miles to promote youth fitness. It began with a 3,260-mile run across the United States all alone in 108 days. After that I accomplished solo runs across Montana, Germany, Alaska, and the Mojave Desert. With each adventure there were inherent dangers. I jumped out of the path of inattentive drivers; I battled hypothermia; I experienced dehydration; thieves attempted to rob me; and, I could have been attacked by wolves, grizzly bears, and other wildlife. I had automatic weapons pointed at me in Germany and was near frostbite in Montana. The stories seem endless and the experiences are incredibly vivid in my memory.
Today, I am 51 years of age and am engaged to the most beautiful and wonderful woman I have ever known. I have four amazing children and a rewarding job. In short, I am greatly blessed... and I know it. I'm aiming to retire from my job in 15 years and the time between now and then will be spent happily married to Kelley and focusing on making the most of each day. I will not risk losing that prematurely by putting my life on the edge of a highway with a stroller full of gear.
My runs across states and countries have had many purposes. Clearly, I had a desire to encourage children to be more active and to take care of themselves. As I always said, "If you take care of your body it can take you on some wonderful adventures!" I've experienced that and along the way my legs carried me to some amazing locations, and I met so many top-notch people. At times my running across states and countries was about running toward something, but too often it was also about running away from something. Regardless, I managed to conquer mass amounts of distance all alone... enduring severe heat, incredible cold, torrential rains, relentless winds, painful hail, blinding snow, life-threatening lightning, tornado scares, and more. I captured so many moments in pictures and video, aiming to give others a window into my experiences via online postings. I wrote daily blogs, spoke at countless school assemblies, and had many roadside encounters with curious people.
As many of you know, as I did my adventure runs across states and countries there would be K-12 school children who would run with me virtually -- tracking my progress via an online classroom that I updated from the road. Over 100,000 school children from countries worldwide participated by running around their school gymnasiums and playgrounds. I received so many thoughtful notes from students and teachers. I did newspaper, radio and television interviews as those opportunities were presented. I paid for most of the endeavors out of my own pocket and never made a dime on any adventure run I did. Companies just didn't seem interested in sponsoring what I was doing, so I had to pay out in order to get the runs to the finish line. There were some who handed me money along the edge of the road just to support my purpose in running, and some school assembly fees also contributed. In all, the running adventures I did cost over $20,000.
I still have "BOB" (short for 'Beast of Burden') -- the stroller I pushed for each adventure. It now is a reminder to me of all that I endured. That stroller was with me every step of the way, and without it I would have never been able to accomplish the things that I did.
It's now time to focus on my life with Kelley and the children that we have. I will never again risk my life on the edge of a highway in an attempt to conquer all of the mileposts from one border to another, or from one ocean to another. For me, those days are done -- and I have peace with that. I view my life as a daily blessing... one not to be risked foolishly. I have accomplished everything I wanted to in long-distance running. In fact, I've accomplished more than most runners will ever experience. I've come out the other side of my endurance feats with a body that is healthy and not limited with injuries or issues. I am blessed... truly blessed.
I will write my books and do some speaking engagements as opportunities allow. Running will always be a part of my life, but will not be as it was when I would run endlessly for the horizon. Instead of my hand being on a stroller, it will be holding Kelley's hand. She and I will step side by side on life's path... into our future and all that it holds.
Life is indeed short and one to be appreciated daily with loved ones by your side. I was blessed to be able to accomplish some extreme running challenges, but I'm more blessed to be marrying my best friend and forever partner, Kelley, and to have children who are a joy in my life.
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.