Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Some People Cheat in Order to Claim a Run Across America

It has been over 10 years since I completed my solo run across America. Since then, many people have attempted a coast-to-coast run/walk, and several have actually accomplished it. What saddens me to see are those who decide to cheat in order to claim a run across the country. Some have actually been eaten up by guilt and eventually admitted cheating. Case in point, former teacher Rosalynn Frederick.

On March 23, 2013, Rosalynn, age 37, began a run/walk across America from California to Connecticut to promote a non-profit organization. She says that she averaged about 20 miles per day for about 5 months on the road, taking in thousands of dollars for the organization as well as her trip costs. The following year she wrote a blog post which began with the words "An Important Truth." In that writing, Rosalynn admitted to cheating on her run/walk across America and lying to those who had supported her and donated to the organization she promoted. In part, she wrote:
"Last year, on August 15, 2013, I completed a journey across the United States that took me 5 months... There are some things that I have kept private. What I have recently realized is that one of the things I kept to myself for so long, was eating me up inside. I’m going to share this now because it feels right for me to do. It also feels scary. I’ll start by saying that I’ve felt ashamed and so sorry about what I’ve done. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can’t. So, now I deal with the consequences of the decisions I made. I was not the 20th woman to cross the USA on foot. In fact, I did not cross the entire USA on foot... I was dishonest and I regret it... I was running very short on funds and emotional strength... my body rebelled... I secretly hitched a ride... I honestly can’t fully remember how I convinced myself that what I was doing was acceptable. I think desperation had taken over. I’m sure my ego was involved. I had lost perspective on reality. I had lost a sense of my true self somehow along the way. I was so consumed with my goal that I was willing to lie to keep up appearances... For 10 days, I went out in the morning hoping to be able to cover the planned mileage on my own and ended up hitchhiking, calling a cab, or taking a bus for a portion of the mileage…and I didn’t tell anyone... When I finally made it to Norwalk, CT on August 15, I celebrated, but in my heart I knew I was living a lie. I was ashamed, yet I still kept it to myself... I have a strong sense of disappointment in myself regarding this experience that I am learning how to deal with. That’s going to be another long journey."
Rosalynn isn't the only person to cheat during a crossing of the country on foot. There have been several others. For instance, last year British runner Robert Young was over halfway across the United States on a supposed world record pace when it was discovered that he was cheating by riding in his support vehicle at night over portions of the route. An investigation was commissioned by his chief sponsor and it was concluded in a 101-page report that he couldn't have possibly run the distances/times that his tracking devices indicated. Unlike Rosalynn Frederick, an admission was not to come out of Robert Young. He still maintains that he did not cheat, but rather that he made "mistakes." How did his run end? Well, he never crossed the finish line. Instead, he abandoned the run while in the state of Indiana shortly after his cheating (or "mistakes") were discovered by observers.

My solo run across the country required 108 days on the road to conquer all 3,260 mileposts. It is the most physically exhausting feat I've ever done and now that I'm in my 50's I look back on it with fond memories and a sense of pride in what I accomplished. I can wake up each day with a clean conscience knowing that I didn't cheat at all on my own crossing of the country. Cheating in athletic and/or adventure endeavors is nothing new. Every year we hear about athletes who get caught cheating, but it isn't often that athletes voluntarily admit their cheating. I appreciate the fact that Rosalynn Frederick finally admitted her cheating. Hopefully, her admitting it made a positive and lasting impact on her life.

Cheating is never worth it... whether in school, sports, professions or relationships. The wise course to take is to simply aim to do your best, regardless of the outcome, and wherever your finish line ends up cross it with your integrity and honesty intact.

From Him, Through Him, For Him (Romans 11:36),

Paul J. Staso

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