In 2016, I announced on this blog that I was officially retired from adventure running across states and countries. Now, seven years later, I believe with all of my heart that God wants me to do another "crossing" -- but this time literally. I am pleased to announce that beginning August 20, 2024 I will begin a 423-mile solo running journey which will literally be a route of a cross over the entire state of Indiana
. This self-supported endeavor will require 16 days on the pavement, averaging a marathon (26 miles)
per day while pushing all of my gear, food and water in the same support stroller I used as I ran alone across the United States, Germany, Alaska, Montana, and the Mojave Desert. The stroller is nicknamed "B.O.B." -- which is an acronym for "Beast of Burden" since I have to push it every step and when fully loaded weighs about 65 pounds.
How did you get this idea?
That's a common question that I expect to receive. In 2021, I awoke from my sleep in the middle of the night and had an image on my mind of a cross over the state of Indiana. I honestly didn't know what to think about it. I shared this with my family and pastor, but simply could not understand why I had this 'vision.' For the past two years, it has been in the back of my mind. It didn't make sense to me until May 5, 2023 when my pastor shared with my wife and I that our parish and diocese were experiencing a concerning decline in attendance and participation (as well as a shortage of priests) -- a decline which had caught the attention of our bishop. Immediately after that discussion, the cross over Indiana image was on my mind and heart and I felt God calling me to step out, literally, and prepare to run a cross course over the state of Indiana.Why a cross route?
Understanding the cross route took a little time for me. I decided I needed to look at a pedestrian route on Google Maps in the form of a cross over the state of Indiana. When I plotted such a route, the crossroads of the cross ended up being in Peru, Indiana -- my hometown. Even more surprisingly is the fact that the roads forming the cross intersect at the Catholic Church I attend in Peru, Indiana -- that being Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. It is the only Catholic Church in Miami County. I have attended that church since 2015 and am currently its Director of Faith Formation (a/k/a Director of Religious Education). My wife, Kelley, is an administrative assistant at our parish. Indiana's official motto is "The Crossroads of America" and when you place a pedestrian cross route over the state of Indiana the intersection of those crossed lines are at my home parish, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. For me, this was a huge confirmation from God that I was indeed meant to run this course. If Indiana is "The Crossroads of America," then St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church is the "cross"-roads of Indiana!
Will you run this cross as an employee of the diocese or as a parishioner?
I want to make it clear that my running this course will NOT be in my capacity as Director of Faith Formation for the Catholic Church I attend. I will be doing this solo run as a parishioner. All of the costs will come out of my own pocket and I will use my vacation time to accomplish the task.
How will you run the 423-mile cross course solo and self-supported?
As many know, I've run thousands of miles completely alone across states and countries (NO support crew or pilot)
using a jogging stroller that carries my gear, food and water. Since completing my last adventure run in 2011 at the age of 46 (506 miles solo across the Mojave Desert in 17 days)
, the stroller has been stored in my attic. I've pushed that stroller 3,260 miles coast-to-coast across America; 500 miles through Alaska; 500 miles across Germany; 620 miles across Montana; and across the Mojave Desert (Arizona, Nevada and California)
. Now, after 12 years, I'm dusting off the stroller and preparing it for a crossing unlike any I've ever done. Pope Francis shared a prayer intention in February 2023 which I believe goes to the heart of what I'm aiming to do. He said, "Let us be daring... pray that parishes, placing communion at the center, may increasingly become communities of faith, fraternity and welcome towards those most in need."
Yes, it's time to dust off this particular ability I've been given by God and to be daring with it -- focusing on my faith and parish family.
Will your body hold up since you'll be nearly 60 when you "cross" Indiana?
Yes, I believe it will. I've kept myself in good shape over the years and my annual physical exams show that I am fit. I do not take any medications, I do not smoke, I do not drink alcohol, and I have no physical limitations. I have been running distances beyond the marathon distance of 26.2 miles since 1985. One thing that I can say is that conquering the marathon distance (or more) on a daily basis is much more of a mental feat than it is a physical one.
What are some details concerning the route you'll run to cross Indiana?
The total distance will be 423 miles and I will complete those miles in 16 days on the pavement. That means I will average 26 miles per day (or a marathon per day). Seven of the 16 days will require more than 30 miles per day, with three of the days requiring me to log 37 miles daily. I'm approaching this particular journey unlike others I've done in the past. For this cross run, I'll be doing four separate runs to form the width and length of the cross over Indiana. Each of the four runs will begin at a different border and each will end at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Peru, Indiana. The run will be done as follows:
Why are you planning to complete the run on the day of the parish bazaar?
The run will finish on September 7, 2024 -- the day of St. Charles' parish bazaar, which is an annual event involving the entire community. I believe this will be a good time to celebrate together all that God has done in and through our parish, and continues to do. I'm hoping that parishioners from our pastorate will come together that day and just enjoy time together at an annual event which focuses on our community. I invite all people from Miami County and surrounding areas to join us on September 7, 2024 for this special day.
Will people be able to track your progress live online as you cross Indiana?
Yes! I will be using a SPOT Satellite Tracker device which will update my position via an online map every two minutes. More details about that will be released in the future. I'm asking people to bookmark www.TheCrossRun.com
-- which will be the website address I'll use for the running endeavor. I'll also be posting photos and videos to social media from the road each day as I cross Indiana. Details about that will be coming soon. For now, I ask that you please follow The Cross Run Instagram Account
How can people be a part of The Cross Run?
I want to be available to speak at Catholic churches, schools, youth groups, camps, retreats, conferences and sports teams as I can between now and the start of the run in August 2024. Anyone wanting to reach out to me about that can email Paul@TheCrossRun.com
. Also, between August 20 and September 7, 2024 people are welcome to send prayer intentions to email@example.com
and I will receive those prayers during the run -- praying those intentions as I stride on Indiana's roadways. Further, those who support the run by praying for my purpose and safety will be greatly appreciated. I'm aiming to have t-shirts available for purchase online by those who wish to support/promote the run. The t-shirts will be at cost and I will not profit in any way by the sale of those shirts. Finally, if you see me running along a roadway in Indiana, please take a moment to stop and say hello!
Will there be media coverage of The Cross Run?
What I've learned through years of running across states and countries is that media outlets (newspaper, television, radio)
tend to be made aware of my running endeavors by people who call their offices and tell them that some guy is running down a highway pushing a baby stroller -- and sometimes they call the police to check and make sure I don't have a baby in the stroller! As a result, there are moments when a media truck pulls up and starts asking questions. However, I'm open to any media interviews that any news agency wants to do -- particularly Catholic news sources. Again, I can be reached at Paul@TheCrossRun.com
What makes St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church so special?
I could actually write a book about all that makes this particular parish special. Leaning toward brevity, I can say that it was the first church erected in Peru, Indiana back in 1835. For nearly 200 years this church has stood to serve the needs of God's people in Miami County, Indiana. The first settlers of Peru, whose names appear throughout the years on the records of the church, are ancestors of many of the present parishioners. The church's stained glass was imported from Munich, Bavaria and Saints from every state of life and from every nation and age are represented by the figures on the windows and the statues. Also represented on the windows are the seven sacraments, the nine choirs of angels, and the three theological (faith, hope and love/charity)
and four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance)
. The figure of our Savior on the cross, hanging above the altar, and the statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are the work of Munich artists. Other statues on the altars were made in Paris. The pipe organ dates back to 1893. However, it is the people of St. Charles that make this parish so incredibly special.
Parishioners who truly care about one another, about their Catholic faith, and about their fellow man. I was a Protestant for 50 years before converting to the Catholic faith and I can honestly say that St. Charles Church is my faith family. I know that in recent years there have been those who have opted to step away from attending church and forego being in a community of believers. That is one of the unfortunate results of the pandemic that came upon us in early 2020. However, those who come through the doors of St. Charles Church are stepping into a place of friendly, faith-filled believers who want to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus. Quite simply, St. Charles Church is at the "cross"-roads of Indiana and I believe that was God's plan.
What do you hope to achieve through this Indiana cross run?
I am praying that God will use the run to bring to the hearts and minds of those who it connects with the need to use the gifts that they have been given -- no matter what they are
-- to bring glory and honor to God and to build up His church. It would be a blessing if this run can cause some people to stop for a moment and to think about their own spiritual life and what steps they can take to place God at the crossroads of their heart. I also hope that it will encourage those who have been away from the Catholic Church to return and to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. This run will occur just a few weeks after the conclusion of the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana -- aiming to revive Catholics' love of the Eucharist. I am also praying that more people in Miami County, Indiana will come to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in the town of Peru to encounter our Lord in a very special way and to consider becoming a part of this incredible parish. We all encounter crossroads in our lives and sometimes we wander in the wrong direction. I'm inviting people to come through the doors of St. Charles Church at the "cross"-roads of Indiana. In addition, I will be receiving prayer intentions between August 20 and September 7, 2024 as I run the Indiana cross route and will be encouraging people to send me their prayer intentions at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Finally, Pope Francis has said, "I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities"
(Evangelii Gaudium, no. 33). I believe that 'The Cross Run' is indeed bold and creative.
The total distance is 423 miles. Is there anything significant about that?
When I plotted the cross run through Indiana, the total distance ended up being 423 miles. It just so happens that Paragraph 423
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads:
"We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He 'came from God', 'descended from heaven', and 'came in the flesh'. For 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. . . And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace."
Those are the teachings found in John 13:3; John 3:13; John 6:33; 1 John 4:2; and, John 1:14, 16. What a wonderful summary of The Good News... God sending us His Son.
Also, at John 4:23 we read,
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."
The time is now for worshipers to worship God in the Spirit and in truth. It's time for Catholics who have stepped away from parishes worldwide to go back to the church, to encounter Christ in the Eucharist, to grow in their faith, and to build up the community of believers. The Good News of God's gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, is still good news for our world!
Words from a prayer of St. Charles Borromeo...
St. Charles Borromeo -- the Saint whose name is connected to my home church in Peru, Indiana -- prayed, "Almighty God... I am simply Your instrument for bringing others to the knowledge of the wonderful things You have done for all Your creatures. Help me to be faithful to this task that You have entrusted to me." I am running with those words in my mind and heart... that I am God's instrument and that I am to be faithful.
Follow St. Charles Church on social media!
You can keep up with all of the happenings at St. Charles Church via its Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/stcharles.parish.peru and its Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/stcharlesperu.
15 Months and Counting...
I have 15 months to prepare for this running endeavor. During that time, I'll be preparing my body and preparing "BOB" -- the support stroller I'll push. I am so incredibly grateful to my wife, who is supportive of this undertaking. Without Kelley's support, there is no way that I could take on this challenge. I look forward to being able to run home to her, and to my home parish. There are links below if you would like to become familiar with the other running adventures I've done. I ask for your prayers and encouragement as I prepare to run the "cross"-roads of Indiana... all such roads connecting with my home parish, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
Paul J. Staso
Click on any of the links below to see some of my adventure photos: