Many years ago, I reworked and removed some content from various adventure running websites that I maintained. Accidentally, the complete journal I created while on the 2011 Mojave Desert adventure run was deleted. However, I was able to retrieve those writings and decided to place those into today's blog post. It's a bit lengthy, but if you would like to read my thoughts from that 506-mile, 17 day solo run from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley -- just continue reading! Also, be sure to check out the photographs and music slideshow.
Mojave Desert – Here I Come!
Written by Paul Staso on April 11, 2011
Today is the day I fly to Arizona to get ready to try and become the first person to run across the Mojave Desert solo by starting at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and ending at Badwater Basin, Death Valley. Tomorrow the Grand Canyon is supposed to have a high of 56 degrees and a low of 20 degrees. The forecast for the day I begin the run (Thursday, April 14) is for a sunny day and a high of 61 degrees. This week the high temperature in Death Valley is supposed to be 90 degrees, with the forecast for next weekend showing 103 degrees. The Mojave National Preserve, which I will run across, is forecasted to be in the 80's after I begin the run on Thursday. Yes… as I proceed along this P.A.C.E. Trek route it is going to get much hotter with the range being from 20 degrees to over 100 degrees.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Enjoying The Grand Canyon!
Written by Paul Staso on April 12, 2011
I am writing this blog entry on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 12, from the Maswik Lodge in the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Forty hours from now (6am, Thursday, April 14) I will begin P.A.C.E. Trek 2011, my 506-mile, 17-day solo running adventure from the Grand Canyon, across the Mojave Desert, to Badwater Basin in Death Valley. I arrived yesterday afternoon after taking three flights and a 90-minute shuttle bus from Flagstaff, Arizona. All of my gear arrived in great shape. “BOB” (my trusty stroller) is sitting here in my hotel room and needs to be built – which is something I will do tomorrow.
Today I went to the only grocery store in the village and got food supplies for the support stroller. I’ll carry two days of food and will restock again in Williams, Arizona. The first two days of this run will be like running on a rollercoaster. There are lots of ups and downs. I’ll have pine trees for the first day, but once I reach Valle, Arizona the trees are very sparse. It is about 60 degrees here at the Grand Canyon and the evenings are dropping down to 20 degrees. Last night I took some pictures of the Grand Canyon as the sun was nearly set and I hope to get out there a little earlier tonight to capture some good photos. Sunset is such an amazing time to view the canyon because of all the shadows. Also, the sun really brings out the red in the rock.
The breeze has picked up today, but it’s not cold. I’ve done some hiking along the Bright Angel Trail and today I had a picnic lunch on the edge of the Canyon near the Lookout Studio — and amazing structure made of large stones that sits on a point overlooking the vast Grand Canyon. Things are rather expensive here, but for those willing to explore you can find some reasonably priced eating options.
On Thursday I will begin the run at the Bright Angel Trailhead — which has a wonderful view of the Grand Canyon. I will then run through the Maswik Lodge loop and access Center Road, which leads to the South Entrance Road (Highway 64). That road will take me out of the park and heading South toward Valle, Arizona — which is where I will stop at the end of day 1. I have to run a few miles within Grand Canyon National Park and want to get those miles done early before all of the shuttle and tour buses begin rolling. I noticed this morning that activity in the park increased significantly at 8am. If I start the run at 6am (which is at sunrise), I should be out of the park shortly after 7am. After I leave Grand Canyon National Park I’ll be running through the Kaibab National Forest.
As I stood looking across the Grand Canyon today I was thinking about the actual distance across. The South Rim and the North Rim are just 10 miles apart (as the raven flies), but 215 miles by road! The elevation at the South Rim – where I am now – is 7,000 feet. The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher. Rock in the bottom of the Grand Canyon has been dated to nearly 2 billion years old. Because of the Canyon’s extreme changes in elevation, exposure, and climate there are many different plant and animal communities. This afternoon as I ate my picnic lunch, many squirrels decided they wanted some of my food. They literally surrounded me! There are many forms of life here, such as the Grand Canyon Rattlesnake, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Lion, Abert Squirrel, Turkey, Mule Deer, Beavers, Humpback Chub fish, and countless tourists!
The Grand Canyon was made a National Monument in 1908 and became a National Park in 1919. It has an area of over 1,900 square miles and contains 277 miles of the Colorado River. It has been about 40 years since I last stood at the Grand Canyon. I was just a little guy back then, about 6 years old. It’s great to be back here and to know that on Thursday I’ll begin one of the most challenging solo journey runs — and in some ways the most challenging — that I have attempted. As I looked out over the mighty Grand Canyon today I couldn’t help but to draw some strength from its massive walls of rock. For the journey in front of me, I’ll need all the strength I can get.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Tomorrow P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 Begins!
Written by Paul Staso on April 13, 2011
It all comes down to tomorrow… 12 months of planning; many mileposts of training; endless hours of researching; countless prayers; and, 365 days of imagining. Tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. in Arizona I will begin a journey run that has never been attempted before by a solo runner: to traverse 506 miles in 17 consecutive days across the Mojave Desert. P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 is here.
The sands of the hour glass are running out and I’ll soon be standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon with an 85-pound stroller of gear looking down the road in hopes of reaching Badwater Basin, Death Valley on April 30. This run will include Arizona, Nevada and California and take me through some very remote areas. Oppressive heat, minimal water sources, sparse populations, and some potentially deadly hazards await me in the desert. I know well what can happen down the road I’m about to run.
Those who have read this blog consistently over the past few weeks know that I’ve been struggling with getting into the right mental mindset to tackle this challenge. Last night I spent time on the edge of the Grand Canyon, enjoying the sunset and thinking about what I’m about to attempt. I spent some time in prayer and looked at the incredible beauty of the canyon. The setting sun’s colors reflected off of each layer of the rock walls, and it was like looking at a stone rainbow. I began to think about the colorful moments that I’ve been fortunate to experience on all of my P.A.C.E. Treks… running from the Great Plains of Eastern Montana to the northern Rocky Mountains of Western Montana; running through the majestic and vast terrain of Alaska; running across Germany through very challenging weather conditions; and of course running across the United States during the second hottest summer ever recorded in America. The people and places I’ve encountered on my journey runs are locked into my memory, as are the difficult moments and times filled with indescribable satisfaction and joy. But just as the Grand Canyon reflects light in a so many colors due to its varying rock layers, so too does my running reflect the colors within me and the strength that I have. The canyon has helped to prepare me in a way that I never anticipated. Its grand nature has helped me to see the grand nature that is within the running ability I have. I am so fortunate to be able to do what I do through P.A.C.E. and as long as my legs contain the strength to carry me 30+ miles per day, I will keep pursuing journey runs to help promote active children everywhere.
As I sat on the edge of the canyon last night I thought about my running life since the age of 10… all 36 years of it. I know in my heart that my running has been both for running away from some things in my life, and also for running toward opportunities and goals. I’d like to say that all 36 years of running has simply been for the joy of the sport and for pursuing goals. However, that would not be true and I have always maintained the position that my writings would reflect what is truly in my heart. Sometimes my running is an escape… an opportunity for me to separate myself from the daily expectations that are associated with the various hats I wear (business owner, father, husband, school speaker, etc.). Running provides me with an opportunity to regain better focus on my strengths, my faith, and my purpose. However, my running also helps me to be all that I can be — not only as a runner, but as a man. The sport challenges me in ways that I am not challenged in my everyday life. It brings out a side of me that isn’t easily seen outside of a P.A.C.E. Trek event. Running the extreme distances I do requires me to dig deep within myself, day after day, to answer a question deep within… “How far can you go?” or “How long can you last?”
During each journey run I do there are constantly changing elements (weather, terrain, physical pains, societal influences, potential dangers, and more). However, there is one thing that doesn’t change, and that’s my desire to reach for the next milepost. If you really want to know what my greatest strength is in life, I would say it’s the ability to endure or persevere. I’m very good at setting my mind to something and sticking to it until it is complete. In order to do that during a P.A.C.E. Trek, I have to close out everything else. I have to focus on the task of conquering 200+ miles each week while being completely alone and pushing 80+ pounds of gear, water and food. P.A.C.E. Treks take everything within me to accomplish them. Yes, you’ll see pictures of me — the smiling P.A.C.E. guy — with the thumbs up and the trusty support stroller, “BOB” (which stands for ‘Beast of Burden’). But the story behind those smiling, thumbs up pictures is one of focus, struggle, pain and plenty of persistence. I’m going to let you, the spectator, see behind the curtain on this P.A.C.E. Trek… in other words, see with more clarity what it really takes to do what I do. I’m not going to do that so you feel sympathetic toward me or so that I come across as some sort of martyr. I think it’s important for both children and adults to have better insight into what is required to run across states and countries. So, I’ll be more transparent with this P.A.c.E. Trek than I have with other ones. There’s so much that can be learned through honesty — even when being honest can reveal weaknesses or be difficult. I want to live my life genuinely and doing that requires walking (or running) with integrity and yes… honesty.
So, what does all of this have to do with running solo across the Mojave Desert? A lot. To take on a running route that has not been done before, as I am, requires a person to get very real. It requires identifying weaknesses, identifying false perceptions, and identifying personal strengths. I’ve been doing that over the course of the past year and it hasn’t always been a comfortable exercise. In fact, sometimes running the training miles is easier than looking into my own heart.
Yes, P.A.C.E. Trek 20011 begins tomorrow. I look forward to what awaits me down the road. You can follow my progress at the P.A.C.E. Trek website. Also, today I published the first video file and my friend, Rob will be publishing audio files as they become available.
The Mojave Desert will certainly be a challenge, and I am ready.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Day 1 of P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 Complete!
Written by Paul Staso on April 14, 2011
Today was the first day of the latest P.A.C.E. Trek adventure. Yes, I am trying to become the first person to run solo and unsupported from the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley via the Mojave Desert. This 506-mile, 17-day running adventure is truly going to test everything within me as a journey runner. I began today all alone on the South Rim of the Gran Canyon. Standing there at 6:00 a.m. I looked over the canyon as a mist and light fog blanketed the lower elevations. I took time to just enjoy the scene, made a video, took some pictures, and then… took off. “BOB” (my 80+ pound stroller of gear, food and water) was well equipped for this undertaking and it wasn’t long before I felt right at home on the edge of the road.
The first objective of the day was to get out of Grand Canyon National Park — and that took about 4 miles. I then began running south on Highway 64 toward Valle, Arizona. The sun broke out above the treetops and soon I was running in a t-shirt, although the daily high never broke 50 degrees. I did have a lot of sunshine and am writing this with a bit of a sunburn!
I stopped in several places and took pictures and it wouldn’t take long before I was running out of the pine tree setting at the Grand Canyon into an area of low sage brush and a drier landscape. There was nothing to see along today’s route. Yes… it was somewhat boring. There was a lot of traffic heading to Grand Canyon, so I had plenty of vehicles passing me all day. The wind picked up in the final 3 hours and added to the battle of going up and down constantly rolling hills.
As with any P.A.C.E. Trek, there are always glitches to work out. I learned that the GPS tracking application on my cell phone was running down the battery faster than my solar panel could charge the phone. So, in the final 7 miles my cell phone died and there were no other GPS marks showing on the website. To alleviate this problem, I will only be posting a live-tracking GPS mark once per hour. That way I can turn the application off and preserve more battery. So, you can look on the website for my position once per hour.
I ran 29 miles today and am in a hotel in Valle, Arizona. Tomorrow will be a 30-mile day to Williams, Arizona and the temps are supposed to be around 60 degrees with sunshine. I just had a wonderful meal and am now going to go back to my room and take an ice bath — a wonderful thing after running more than a marathon. I hope to get pictures and videos from today posted, but my Internet connection here is marginal at best.
I want to thank all of those who sent me a word of encouragement today, or signed my guestbook. I receive those notes while I am on the road during the day and it truly helps me to get through the miles. So, thank you!
My friend, Rob, has been posting audio files on the website and I hope you’ve been able to listen to those as well. We’re still working out the glitches, so please be patient on everything. We’ll get into our stride here soon!
So, P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 rolls on tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the experiences that await me on this journey!
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
60 Miles in 34 Hours
Written by Paul Staso on April 15, 2011
Today was the second day of P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 – my attempt to run 506 miles in 17 days from the Grand Canyon to Death Valley. I started running at around 6:30 this morning and the sun had just come up. The temperature was around 25 degrees, but it would warm up to about 60 during the day. It wasn’t long before I was in running shorts and a singlet. My incredibly white body from training through a harsh Montana winter has certainly turned a shade of red. More sunscreen tomorrow!
This was a day of not having much to see. What I did see a lot of was hills. Highway 64 from Valle to Williams has a lot of hills, and many are rather long. So, pushing 80+ pound “BOB” (the stroller) was rather challenging today. By the way, for those of you who don’t know, BOB stands for “Beast of Burden” — which BOB truly is. However, without BOB I could never do what I do through P.A.C.E. Treks each year. The support stroller allows me to be completely self sufficient on the road, meaning I don’t have to have a support crew with me.
I arrived in Williams, Arizona at around 2:30 p.m. today and am staying at the Knights Inn. I was warmly welcomed and have enjoyed relaxing here. I’ve done two ice treatments (primarily feet and knees) and am now focusing on tomorrow’s 26-mile run to Ash Fork — where I’ll also stay in a hotel.
The typical physical pain of P.A.C.E. Trek is starting to set in. No, I’m not “Superman” and I’m not some out-of-this-world distance runner, as some have suggested. I feel the impact of my feet on the pavement just like everyone else. Essentially, I have about a 12 to 15-hour window of time to repair and prepare my body to do another marathon or more. It’s much more difficult pushing 80+ pounds of gear, food and water each day. I’m 46 years old now and have no idea how long my body will hold up to the tremendous physical strain of doing these annual journey runs. For now, I am focused on running into Badwater Basin, Death Valley on April 30 — only 15 days from now.
I want to thank the teachers and students who have been signing my online guestbook. It is so wonderful to read those notes. It truly encourages me. I’ve had some teachers send me questions that their students have and I’ll try to answer those in this blog very soon.
So, 60 miles of this P.A.C.E. Trek is now complete. I still have a little over 440 miles to go. I am feeling more focused each day. While it is true that the route I’m attempting has never been done before by a solo runner, I believe I’ve been uniquely prepared for this challenge. I, like you, will just have to see what unfolds down the road.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
3 Days and 86 Miles Done… 14 Days and 420 Miles to Go!
Written by Paul Staso on April 16, 2011
There are always days during a P.A.C.E. Trek that don’t quite go as planned. Today was such a day! I knew that navigating between Williams and Ash Fork, Arizona was going to be a challenge. Aside from Interstate 40 (which I didn’t believe I could run on) there were various country roads that meandered through a rolling countryside. I plotted a route and set out this morning. I quickly learned that one of the roads I would have to run on was gated with a sign that said “NO ENTRY”. It was next to railroad tracks and was a terrible road… one that would require a four wheel vehicle — not a three-wheel stroller. So, I headed back to the hotel I had stayed at the night before so that I could use their Internet and try and formulate a new plan. After five miles, I was at the hotel.
The gentleman that runs the Knights Inn at Williams, Arizona was such a great help. He called the state police and learned that I could run on Interstate 40 between Williams and Ash Fork. So, I went ahead and did that. There was truly no other way. I can tell you this… having done about 5,000 miles of P.A.C.E. running adventures I’ve only run on about 50 miles of interstate highway. I don’t like running on interstates. They’re loud, dangerous, and you have to breathe in the fumes from the many vehicles — particularly large 18-wheel trucks. So, I didn’t care too much for today’s run. However, when you’re faced with the situation I was, there is no alternative.
I arrived in Ash Fork early in the afternoon and went to my hotel — The Ash Fork Inn. It has been here for decades and is one of the dwindling number of original Route 66 businesses. As I walked through town I saw many old, closed down businesses. Route 66 runs through here and you can certainly see how the placement of Interstate 40 hurt the small towns along Route 66. If you’ve ever seen the Disney animated movie “Cars”, then you know what I’m talking about. So many people driving on Interstate 40 just fly by these little towns. They don’t stop and as a result the towns suffer, and slowly die.
Tomorrow I will run 25 miles to Seligman and stay in a little hotel there. I hope to be able to have Internet access.
I am soooooo tired tonight and am going to keep this blog entry short. All is well. Just have to do some treatment to my feet. They have been taking quite a pounding.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
4 Days Done… 110 Miles Complete
Written by Paul Staso on April 17, 2011
I am in Seligman, Arizona after a 25-mile run today from the town of Ash Fork. If you haven’t seen the pictures and videos from today, you’ll want to run over to the website and click on the audio, picture and video links!
I spent all of today on the historic Route 66 and it was great to be able to run on a portion of the “Mother Road”. However, the start of the day was far from “great”. The first six miles were on a portion of the old Route 66 that is now meandering through farmland and pastures. It was rough going and “BOB” (the stroller) doesn’t do so good at four-wheeling… perhaps because it only has three wheels. Anyway, I got to a point at around mile 2 where there was a barbed-wire fence and a large gate. It was to keep people away from some train tracks that now cross the old Route 66 in that location. I had no choice… I had to dismantle BOB and carry the pieces through the barbed wire, across the tracks, and to the other side and then rebuild it. That took time. I continued on and once I was about 6 miles into my day I reached a paved portion of Route 66. Then the hills came! It was a lot of up and down… and my 150-pound frame wrestled with BOB’s 80 pounds of weight now and then. Finally, with only about 8 miles left, the winds hit… and I mean STRONG winds. They were gusting up to 40 miles per hour and the final 8 miles seemed like it took forever.
I did eventually make it into Seligman, Arizona and have had a nice evening. I showered, took care of my feet, and had a great meal. I then worked on uploading over 40 new pictures and two additional videos. My friend, Rob, also posted 3 of my audio files that I had sent him during the day. So, there is a lot to see at at the website. Tomorrow will be a very long day, 37 miles to the town of Peach Springs where I’ll be in a motel. I plan to get on the road around 5:30am.
I’m going to sign off from this milepost in Arizona and grab some much needed sleep. Thanks for checking in on me. All is going well.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
25 Miles Today… An “Easy” Day.
Written by Paul Staso on April 19, 2011 (AM)
I always know when I’m getting deeper into a P.A.C.E. Trek. It’s when a 25-mile day seems like an “easy” one. After yesterday’s completely exhausting 37-mile run, today’s 25 miles will indeed seem easy. I’m actually going to use today as a “recovery day”, even though I’ll be going 25 miles.
Right now it is 10:00 a.m. here in Peach Springs, Arizona and I am at the Hualapai Lodge on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. This lodge is wonderful and I got a great night’s sleep. I just ate a very large breakfast which included: 3 muffins, 2 danishes, one bowl of cereal, 5 glasses of orange juice, two eggs, hashbrowns, toast, bacon, and a large bowl of fruit. I think I’m fueled up for another day on the road!
I will be leaving here in about an hour to begin the 25 miles to Hackberry, Arizona — where I will be sleeping in my tent next to the Hackberry General Store. It is owned by John and Kerry Pritchard and I contacted them and asked if there would be a place to put my tent. They offered next to their store and I’ll certainly buy some supplies for BOB while I’m there. I’ll continue to run on Route 66 all day today. After finishing today (my 6th day on the road) I’ll have 172 miles of this 506-mile P.A.C.E. Trek completed — or about one-third.
I don’t expect to have any Internet tonight from Hackberry, but may be able to get some information out via cell phone. I always do my best to get information out. At the website, I have posted some pictures and videos from yesterday’s 37-mile run, and there are also some audio files from that day as well. Tomorrow I will run 31 miles to Kingman, Arizona where I will stay at the Tri-State Inn.
It’s time to get BOB ready to roll and to get focused on the 25 miles in front of me today. Thanks for checking in and I’ll try to provide an update later.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Hello From A Tent In Hackberry, Arizona!
Written by Paul Staso on April 19, 2011 (PM)
Today was a 25-mile run from Peach Springs, Arizona to Hackberry, Arizona. I stayed at the lodge in Peach Springs until the 11:00 a.m. check-out time so that I could have a few extra hours of rest after the 37-mile run I did yesterday. As I wrote in an earlier blog message from today, I ate a wonderful breakfast and was ready to head out.
The weather was beautiful (again) with clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. I don’t believe it got hotter than about 75 degrees. However, the winds returned! Yep… headwinds! So, from about mile 5 until the finish I dealt with varying headwinds from 10 to 30 miles per hour. It is incredibly dehydrating and I’m taking in as much fluids as possible. My lips are incredibly chapped and sore, and I try to keep them protected.
During my run today I met “Flo”, a girl on a journey bike ride in America to raise money for fighting breast cancer. She’s from France and gave me a pink ribbon to put on “BOB” (my support stroller). She gave me her website link and I’ll have to dig that out and be sure to include it in tomorrow’s blog entry. She was great to talk to and we must have spent a half hour together at the roadside’s edge. She was going in the opposite direction of me. She said that she had never come across a guy pushing a jogging stroller. I then told her that I had already run across America, Germany, Montana, and did an Alaska run. Then she started to think I was nuts! Those in France will never look at Americans the same!
I pushed on through the wind and arrived in Hackberry around 6pm. The elderly owners of the general store met me and showed me where I could pitch my tent for the night. I am on the edge of a field behind their general store. They were kind enough to give me a plate of food (leftovers from their evening meal), a bottle of water, and some ice for my legs. It was very kind of them! I set up my tent, got everything organized, cleaned up a bit using some supplies I have, and then settled into my tent for the night. As I write this at 10pm there is the sounds of a dog barking in the distance as well as a train approaching. Trains seem to go by ever hour or so. The sky is a sea of stars and there is a slight breeze. The temperature is dropping quickly and it’s about time to settle into my warm sleeping bag. I’ll get moving pretty early tomorrow (likely by 7am) to do the 31 miles to my hotel in Kingston, Arizona.
By the way, I have no cell service here at all… but when I got into my tent I turned on my laptop and was surprised to see a very faint connection available via the general store’s unsecured Internet. I tried it and was amazed to have just enough of a connection to write this blog entry.
All is well here. I am feeling pretty good at the end of this sixth day of P.A.C.E. Trek 2011. I want to encourage all of the school team leaders to post a mileage update via the website. There are about half of the teams that do not have any mileage posted yet. Also, I ask team leaders to encourage their students to sign the online guestbook. Some have had their students sending me messages through my website's contact page. Please don’t do that. Have your kids use the online guestbook.
Time to get some sleep, as the train blows its whistle as it nears this tiny town. P.A.C.E. Trek continues on tomorrow with only three days remaining in Arizona before I cross the Nevada border.
Goodnight from the edge of a field in Hackberry, Arizona!
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Taking A Day Off Tomorrow…
Written by Paul Staso on April 20, 2011
I am in Kingman, Arizona after about 200 miles of running in 7 days. It has been a brutal week with constant headwinds that have dried out my body severely. I need to take a day and hydrate my body well. I also have some physical issues to deal with (toenail loss, blisters, and some muscle issues). I knew that this was going to be a demanding P.A.C.E. Trek when I organized it. Also, with any P.A.C.E. journey there are physical matters to deal with. However, with this particular trek I’m experiencing multiple issues that don’t usually happen simultaneously, and which don’t usually occur this early in a P.A.C.E. Trek.
Taking a day off here in Kingman is the best decision. I still have about 300 miles to go and after one more day of running (to Bullhead City, Arizona) I’ll be heading out into the Mojave National Preserve. If I am not in the proper physical and mental state when I reach that point, I’m likely not going to be able to finish this trek. So, I am going to take one day off and care for my body the way that it needs. I will then continue down the road with every intention of ending this trek in Badwater Basin, Death Valley.
Wind is a large foe to a distance runner. It is not only incredibly dehydrating, it also adds resistance. In my case, it adds resistance to the 80-pound companion I push — “BOB” the stroller. As I mentioned before, I’m a 150-pound runner and the stroller I push is over half of my body weight. When you add 30+ mile per hour constant headwinds, it makes for an exhausting situation. I barely made it into Kingman today. My back felt like it was breaking after days of pushing into the headwind. My feet felt raw from all of the intensive push offs at the ball of each foot. My Iliotibial band in my right knee is a little tight, and I have a bit of tendinitis forming in my lower left leg. The sunburn I received the first couple of days is peeling and causing further dryness issues (even though I’ve been applying aloe). A more advanced moisturizer is needed.
To get through the strong headwinds today I did a mental technique I call “Quieting The Mind”. Essentially, I put in earplugs and block out as much noise as possible. I then pull my cap down to see only about ten feet in front of the stroller. I then push the stroller firmly and steadily, taking one step after another and controlling my breathing. I don’t look around, I don’t take pictures, I don’t distract my mind from what I need to do — moving forward. I quiet my mind of anything that may distract it from pushing my body and “BOB” down the road. I did that for about 17 miles today and my mind actually moved my body forward — not my legs.
The motel I am in right now is close to restaurants and a grocery store. Tomorrow I will do some laundry and restock BOB with some supplies. I will also do some ice treatments and most of all… stay off my feet as much as possible. Of course, I will also be hydrating well throughout the day.
Time to get some rest. Thanks for stopping by to see how things are going. I’ve posted a new video at the website and will put more pictures online tomorrow.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Back On The Road Tomorrow…
Written by Paul Staso on April 21, 2011
It has been a good day off the road here in Kingman, Arizona. I’ve done some care to my body, restocked “BOB” the stroller, did some laundry, and got some nutrition and hydration. There’s only so much that can be accomplished in 24 hours, but hopefully it was enough to help me press on through the remaining 300 miles of this adventure. Tomorrow will be a 40-mile run to Bullhead City, Arizona where I will have my last hotel night for several nights to come. After I leave Bullhead City on Saturday morning, this P.A.C.E. Trek changes drastically. I’ll be venturing out into the vast Mojave Desert and will be living off of only the provisions I can push in the stroller and sleeping in my tent for several nights. This is going to get very interesting very quickly!
For now, I am feeling a little better and can only hope that the headwinds will subside a little so that I can stay better hydrated and not incur as many physical issues due to pushing the stroller through the intense headwinds. BOB is now stocked heavily for the barren days ahead and weighs nearly 100 pounds due to additional food and water supplies. My back will have to withstand quite a lot in the coming days, as will my legs, feet, hands, and every inch of my body. Yes, this is the “extreme” part of this particular P.A.C.E. Trek. Time will tell if I’ll be able to succeed at this unprecedented solo crossing with no cached water or food -- but only the supplies I am pushing.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
And Now The ‘Real’ Adventure Begins!
Written by Paul Staso on April 22, 2011
After it was all said and done, today was a 40-mile day to Bullhead City, Arizona. The route from Kingman to Bullhead City was up and down, with a significant climb in the final one-third of the day's mileage. I reached an altitude of about 3,500 feet and then dropped nearly 3,000 feet over the course of 12 miles to the bottom of the valley floor where Bullhead City is (and it was 85 degrees). The 12-mile descent was at a 6 percent grade and truly impacted my knees as I tried to hold back 90+ pound “BOB” from rolling away. In the final few miles BOB got its first flat tire since my run across America in 2006. It felt great to finally arrive at the hotel and I’ve eaten a large pizza and did some body care. I also posted some pictures at the P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 website.
Today was my last full day of running in the state of Arizona. Tomorrow I will begin a 38-mile day by running in Arizona. Then, after a few miles, I’ll cross into Nevada and before the day is done I’ll be in the state of California! Three states in one day! Very cool.
So, this is the point where this P.A.C.E. Trek gets a little extreme. Tomorrow morning, I will run straight out into the Mojave Desert for four days — going about 140 miles in that time. It will be an extremely difficult challenge, yet I believe that I can do it. Communication will be quite minimal at times, so don’t look for too many pictures or videos over the next few days. Also, my friend Rob will be posting audio files when I can get those out to him. He will also be overseeing the online blog for a few days.
Ever since I came up with the idea of trying to run solo across the Mojave, I’ve thought about how I would feel the night before I were to actually venture out in the desert to sleep in my tent for several nights without a great daily meal, icing treatments, and more. Now that I am actually here, I can tell you that I feel as prepared as possible. I’ve just completed about 240 miles of running in 8 days. I’m very close to the halfway point, which I’ll be at tomorrow. Please know that I won’t be foolish or extreme while in the desert. P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 is not worth dying for. I will take certain precautions while at the same time pushing toward the finish line.
Thank you for stopping by to see how things are. I won’t have an Internet connection the next 3 nights, but I will have my cell phone and should be able to get some status updates out to Rob for posting. I’ll also try to get some audio files to Rob so that he can post those as well. The barren desert is now in front of me… and the real adventure is about to begin! Wish me luck!
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
NOTE: At this point in the run, I had no connection to the Internet and -- as possible -- called my friend, Rob, with updates from the desert, which he kindly summarized in my adventure blog.
Into the Desert
Written by Rob on April 23, 2011
Paul called saying that he went 34 miles today in 85 degree weather. The first 20 miles was all uphill but the day went well. Bob is over 100 pounds as he is loaded with food and water for the next 4 days. He ran in 3 states today (Arizona, Nevada and California) is now past the half way point of this trek. In the last 36 hours he has run about 74 miles. He has plenty of food and plenty of water and feels things are going well. He plans on making a short stop in Goffs, California tomorrow where he hopes to be able to top off his water. He’s getting set up for the night and feels he has a good spot for the night.
A Quiet Day
Written by Rob on April 24, 2011
This is one of those quiet days when SPOT (the satellite tracker) is our friend. While Paul’s cellular carrier shows coverage over this area, it is remote and so I will assume that cell service is not available on this part of the trek. I did not receive any audio files today and my calls and texts have not been answered, but I did watch Paul’s SPOT tracker move over the planned course so my best assumption is that he is where he needs to be for the night. I’ll update Monday or as soon as I hear from him.
Audio from Paul
Written by Rob on April 25, 2011
Paul called and left a message and it is now posted here. I hope he will have a better connection this evening to update his progress and plans. I’ll edit this later tonight with the latest information. Again, the SPOT tracker shows that Paul has arrived at his planned destination and I’ll assume that as soon as he has cell service he will send an update.
Written by Rob on April 26, 2011
I spoke with Paul this morning. He said that the roads have been challenging and often very sandy, which made pushing BOB extremely difficult. His cell service, as we know, has been very limited but he hopes to have a good connection in Baker tonight. He was offered a camper to sleep in last night so he was able to get a shower and sleep off the ground. Today is about a 30 mile day and the first 7 miles are taking him from 2,200 feet in elevation up to 3,600 feet. From there it should be mostly downhill into Baker. He’ll probably change this post when he can update it but I wanted to get some information out since the last 3 days have been somewhat quiet. He did leave an audio file this morning and it is posted.
Last Night in a Tent
Written by Rob on April 27, 2011
I received a message from Paul this evening on a very bad connection.
He ran 29 miles today and is set up for the night at Salt Creek Hills. It is a small turn off of the main road. He has an important convenience in the form of an outhouse nearby. It was unexpected as he is out in the middle of nowhere. Attached is a picture he sent me earlier in the day.
BOB got another flat today because he has to be pushed off the road when cars come and the pavement is very hot which makes BOB’s tires soft. As you can see in the picture, the shoulder of the road is not paved so when traffic comes Paul and BOB go off the asphalt. Paul is running out of patches for Bob. The tires are working hard with the weight and the heat.
Paul is also in sleeping in his tent for the last night. He hopes to be able to keep up with his route and stay in hotels as planned for the rest of the trip. Audio files are made as he has cell service. I’ll post more as I get it.
An Early Start on the Day
Written by Rob on April 28, 2011
I see that the SPOT tracker is showing Paul moving, which means he got an early start today. As of 8:00 AM (his time) today he has less than 23 miles to complete the day. I know that he was worn down yesterday. At this pace, he may be done with the day before 3:00 PM. I’ll post audio as I get it.
1:20 PM - SPOT tracker has Paul about 5 miles away from his goal today. I would estimate he will be finished for the day between 2:30 PM and 3:00 PM this afternoon.
Only 2 1/2 Days Remain!
Written by Paul Staso on April 29, 2011
Hello from Paul and “BOB” (the trusty support stroller!). I want to thank my friend, Rob, for keeping everyone up to date on P.A.C.E. Trek happenings while I’ve been out of cellular connection. If you want to get online, the desert is not the best place to try that! I have to keep this blog entry somewhat short since I have to get up in a few hours to do another 27 miles. I only have 2 1/2 days left on this challenging run.
This has been a physically draining and painful solo run across the Mojave. There is SO much that I have to write in the coming days to get everyone up to speed on what has been happening. Suffice it to say, my body has paid a price to log the 430+ miles I have in the past 14 days. It will take some time to heal from this undertaking. Remember, nobody has ever run solo across the Mojave Desert before — starting at the Grand Canyon and finishing at Badwater Basin, Death Valley. I’ve battled harsh conditions and am pleased to have endured to be within 75 miles of the finish line.
The strides I take, I take for the kids around the world who are running right along with me. I’ve had some moments on this run where I’ve placed my strides for other purposes… some rather selfish. However, I want all who read this to know that I will be crossing the finish line on Sunday in honor and appreciation for each and every child around the world that has run this distance with me. P.A.C.E. is about kids. It always has been and it needs to always stay that way. It’s not just about some guy who can push a stroller a really long way in a short amount of time. It’s about kids running and walking around their school gymnasiums, tracks and playgrounds to become more active and to stride along with me virtually as we take on a challenge together. PACE stands for “Promoting Active Children Everywhere”. It does not stand for “Paul Amazes Children Everywhere”. The focus shouldn’t be on me, and I apologize if I have made this P.A.C.E. Trek too focused on me trying to accomplish a solo running adventure never attempted before. I needed this particular challenge for a number of personal reasons. It has been worthwhile for me in so many ways, and in some ways it has been more painful than I ever imagined it would be. Sometimes we go into something with certain expectations, and we end up being surprised and ultimately seeing that it wasn’t quite what we expected. I guess you can say that has happened to me, to a degree, on this P.A.C.E. Trek. Regardless, I am striding toward the finish line and am cheering on the kids around the globe who are doing this right along with me.
I’ve always aimed at making P.A.C.E. Trek more about the physical benefits and learning aspects than the ‘adventure’. I’ve let that slip too much with this trek. To the teachers who have participated in years past, I apologize. To the students who expected to see something different from what they have, I apologize. Usually, I include local and regional information daily, and have health/fitness facts to get kids and adults thinking. I’ve not done that with this particular P.A.C.E. Trek and for that I have regrets.
I’ve been doing P.A.C.E. for five years and have logged well over 5,000 miles pushing “BOB” the stroller. Although I always aim to do my best and to show kids what is possible with a healthy body and a solid goal, sometimes I fall short of meeting certain reasonable expectations — and I’m now very aware of that. I’m making a promise that if I do another P.A.C.E. Trek that I will return 100 percent to being a ‘teacher’ as I am a runner. Those of you who know my background are aware that I used to be a 5th grade teacher. It’s important to me that kids not only get fit and have goals, but that they learn things of value! I feel I’ve dropped the ball a little (actually, a lot) on that during this P.A.C.E. Trek. What have kids really seen through P.A.C.E. Trek Mojave Desert? They’ve seen something happen that’s never been done before. They’ve seen a guy pound his body into the ground (and sand) and take a beating from the desert. They’ve seen one man endure all by himself as he crosses a dry, barren, windy and lonely place. Is seeing that enough? I say no. Please don’t misinterpret my words to be ones of frustration or dissatisfaction with this journey. I am certainly pleased with my own personal performance. However, P.A.C.E. Trek is not about Paul Staso. It’s about the kids and the importance of taking kids on a unique fitness adventure that imparts knowledge and challenges thinking. That’s what it has always been in the past. I need to make sure that it is that way in the future.
I should be able to put more pictures out on the website soon, and of course I have a lot of videos to upload. This journey has been so difficult for Internet connections and getting information out has been beyond challenging. I know that there are so many teachers and students who wanted to see more daily, and I’m sorry that wasn’t possible with this particular journey. I do, however, appreciate my friend Rob and all of his efforts to keep you posted as much as he could. Crossing the Mojave all alone is incredibly difficult, and without some big sponsors that can provide satellite phones and Internet connections via satellite, we just can’t do what we’d ultimately like to. So, we get by with the technology we can personally afford.
It’s time to get some rest to take on the next day of running. Remember, you can track my progress via the SPOT satellite tracker at the P.A.C.E. Trek Mojave Desert website. I’m pushing for the finish line on Sunday and look forward to crossing that line with thousands of school children from 9 countries virtually alongside me.
Thank you for your encouragement, support and understanding with respect to this P.A.C.E. Trek. Although my body is battered in many ways, and my emotional and mental state is not as steady as I prefer when wrapping up a P.A.C.E. Trek, please know that this has been beneficial for me and I fully expect that there will be another P.A.C.E. Trek coming up. Where will I go? Why don’t you write to me and make a suggestion! You can use the online guestbook at the P.A.C.E. Trek Mojave Desert website.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso (currently in Shoshone, California)
47 Miles Until The Finish!
Written by Paul Staso on April 29, 2011
Hello from Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Hotel. Today was absolutely, without a doubt, the most difficult day I’ve ever experienced as far as pushing “BOB” (the stroller) into intense, sustained headwinds. The winds were at times 60+ mph and had me at a complete standstill on the side of the road. I put in earplugs and wore my goggles (ski goggles that help to protect my eyes from blowing sand). It was an incredible effort to get through today’s 27 miles and I managed to do it in about 7 1/2 hours on the pavement. Keep in mind that I’m about 150 pounds and BOB is currently weighing in at around 95 pounds with the water supply it’s carrying. When you try to push that much weight into 50 to 60 mph headwinds, it’s quite challenging. The wind was coming right out of the north, and of course that’s the direction I was going to get to Death Valley Junction.
As I write this it is going on 10pm and the wind is still howling outside. I’m sure tomorrow will not be much better. Also, I have to climb to 3,500 feet in elevation tomorrow before beginning a decent to below sea level. So, high winds and hills will likely be my challenge tomorrow. The wind today was so exhausting. My body is hurting and my back is incredibly sore from all of the pushing. My skin is very dried out from the sun and wind. I’ve been treating it, but the wind simply depletes moisture from my skin so quickly. My feet are throbbing and my eyes are burning – even though I wore goggles today.
This P.A.C.E. Trek is certainly taking a lot out of me, but I am determined to finish this Sunday around noon at Badwater Basin, Death Valley — the lowest, hottest and driest location on the North American continent. I am now only about 36 hours away from crossing the finish line. I am ready! The people here at the Amargosa Hotel are absolutely wonderful. The room is great and I even have Internet (although no cell service). I would highly recommend that you pay a visit if you are ever at Death Valley Junction. They also have a cafe that serves great hamburgers. This is certainly a little oasis in the middle of a big, barren valley. Amargosa sits about 3 miles north of the Alkali Flat — an old lake bed that is dried up and very dusty. Today as I was pushing to get into Amargosa, the winds were howling and the dust was swirling around the valley. It was very challenging to complete the final few miles. However, shelter and food can be a wonderful motivator!
BOB the stroller is doing pretty good… considering. You see, the stroller is designed to carry no more than 80 pounds. I’ve been loading BOB at 100 pounds or more on this trek with all of the water I’ve needed. So, I’m glad that its frame has held up and that it is still rolling along. I’ve had a ton of flat tires! In fact, I’ve had more flat tires on this trek than I did during my run across America in 2006. The hot pavement makes the tires soft and when I have to jump off of the pavement and into the gravel sides due to oncoming cars, the sharp little stones quickly penetrate the soft rubber. So, it has been quite a journey for dealing with flat tires.
It’s now time to get some rest. I have a lot of pictures and videos to get uploaded to the website and perhaps I’ll be able to do that tomorrow night from the Furnace Creek Ranch. Thanks for stopping by this milepost to see how things are going. I’m well and am looking forward to the finish line… which is getting closer by the hour!
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso
Tomorrow P.A.C.E. Makes History!
Written by Paul Staso on April 30, 2011
It all started in March 2010 when I was running across Germany. That’s when I came up with the idea of trying to run across the Mojave Desert from the Grand Canyon to Death Valley. I just didn’t know if I could do it, but I wanted to try. So, I planned it, trained for it, and then on April 14, 2011 took the first step toward making it happen by running away from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon pushing my trusty support stroller, “BOB”. Now, 16 running days later, I am in Furnace Creek at Death Valley with the finish line only 18 miles away at Badwater Basin (the lowest, hottest, driest location on the North American continent). The 506-mile route has included Arizona, Nevada and California and has never been accomplished before by a solo runner. This is indeed a great evening. I am writing this from the Furnace Creek Resort and will be getting on the road tomorrow morning to run the final 18 miles. I should cross the finish line at 12pm Pacific time.
I can’t describe thoroughly how difficult this journey run has been. Physically, it has tested me in ways that no other running challenge has. I had to dig really deep to get to this point… really deep. There have been certain people who have helped me tremendously get to where I’m at. My parents have been a steady and supportive force behind my success. They have acted as directional assistance via phone using Google Earth technology and have encouraged me to keep moving forward… wisely and carefully. I just spoke with them by phone and both are so proud and pleased that I am going to finish this. Rob -- a friend for over 30 years -- has been a constant support of my P.A.C.E. endeavors since my first steps during the run across America in 2006. He continues to be someone that I can consistently rely on for assistance in getting information onto the P.A.C.E. Trek website when I am in locations that have no Internet service. There are the students around the world who wrote in my online guestbook and sent me wonderful e-mail messages of encouragement. It is for each and every one of those students that I did this run. Hopefully, they not only watched something happen that has never been done before, but perhaps they have also thought about what they might be able to achieve if they set a goal, work hard toward it, and keep persevering through the finish. Also, I thank the teachers who took the step to register their school teams so that more children can be exposed to an event that truly helps kids see what is possible if you take care of your body. P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 has reached this point due to the encouragement of so many people. Yes, I was the one pushing the heavily-weighted jogging stroller through the mountains, sand and wind every day. However, those who took the time to encourage me are unsung heroes in this story. To them, I am incredibly grateful.
My body will definitely need time to heal. This has been quite challenging physically. I wasn’t able to be as transparent with my thoughts as I initially hoped. The reason? Because too many young children were watching this unfold and I decided that due to their age it would not be wise to be as transparent as I could have been. The reality of this P.A.C.E. Trek is that there has been a price to pay, and my body feels that price. In time, I will heal.
I’ve spent some time this evening looking back through the pictures and videos that I took while doing this journey (and yes… I will be getting all of those online very soon so that you can all see!). As I’ve looked through those images and reflected on what it took to get here, I am once again in awe of what the human body and mind can accomplish. I’ve learned even more about myself… about my ability to endure, about my ability to deal with pain, about my ability to be self sufficient, and about my ability to adjust the ‘game plan’ when needed to have a better chance at success. I’ve also grown in my own faith and have discovered that sometimes we’re given moments to cherish for a lifetime and that although we can’t always have those moments permanently we can always hold onto the memories. P.A.C.E. Trek 2011 has changed my life. I’ll never quite be the same person I was before I ran off into the desert. Self discovery can be a valuable thing and although I wasn’t looking for a life-changing experience through this P.A.C.E. Trek, it certainly has made an impact on my life that I’ll never forget.
The finish line is 18 miles away and tomorrow I will run across it. Sometimes we’re given experiences to change us in subtle yet profound ways, and sometimes we’re given experiences to turn us down a different path from where we were going. This P.A.C.E. Trek has created both of those experiences in my life.
Tomorrow, P.A.C.E. makes history as accomplishing something never done before. I am honored to represent The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, the sport of journey running, and to be someone that children admire. I never imagined that I would have such a platform in my life, and I am humbled by the kids who think I’m amazing or who want to be like me. The tears that are welling in my eyes right now reflect how deeply their admiration impacts my life and heart. I so often feel undeserving of their bright eyes looking up to me, but am also thankful for the opportunity to be in the role I am.
The finish line awaits and tomorrow I will meet it. Mojave Desert, I have conquered you.
-- Gotta Run, Paul Staso