I trained by running an average of 10 miles per day before the run. This was especially tough during the winter months when we got slammed with so much snow and ice. Luckily I am able to stay in a constant state of readiness for these long runs, because I regularly run a lot of long races around the country.
Since I was doing the run for the most part self-supported, I searched out convenience stores and local restaurants along the way. I always made sure that I had a huge breakfast each morning before starting out and did my best to make sure I had a good dinner to replenish my muscles. I did have trouble in some places finding sufficient good nutrition and at times did have to rely on ice cream and candy bars at some convenience stores.
The exact mileage count, after I finished and tallied it all up, was 667.2 miles that I was on foot from the time I started to the time I finished. It was exactly 14 days 11 hours and 28 minutes from the time I started at the Tennessee border on April 4, 2015 at 8:00 am till the time I finished on April 18, 2015 at the ocean on Nags Head, NC. My original goal was to run it in 13 days, but weather and a couple of wrong turns during the run, caused a delay in my finish time of 2 days. Also, when I originally mapped out the course, it appeared the course was approximately 620 miles, but when I finished it turned out, as I said, the course was 667 miles long.
My average daily mileage at the end of the run was 44.46 miles per day. My longest day was 62 miles and my shortest was 18 miles.
In North Carolina, the furthest west town has historically been known to be Murphy, NC and the furthest east was known as Nags Head, NC. There was always a reference to the entire state of North Carolina as “From Murphy To Manteo”. The route I took was entirely run on Hwy 64, which runs from Murphy in the west to the town of Manteo, NC in the east. However Hwy 64 ends just short of the ocean and I wanted to go all the way to the furthest east edge that I could. So in reality, it was Murphy to Nags Head, but I wanted to use the old historical way of referencing the whole state “Murphy To Manteo.”
I do not have any direct connections to the military, other than family members throughout the years who fought in WW2, Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts. I grew up in the town of Sanford, Florida when it was a Naval Air Base, and I had family members that were stationed there. Other than that though, my connection to the military has been through acquaintances I have met in my running circles and other social circles. I have thought a lot about what they have to go through and I really wanted to do something in my small but personal way, to try and help them recover from what they have gone through on mine, and other’s behalves.
I found out about Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund through The Gary Sinise Foundation. Gary is a hero of mine (and someone I’d really like to meet), not just because he’s a great actor, but also because of what he does and how he lives his life and gives back. I had looked at other veterans’ charities, but I wanted to be associated with an organization that would partner with me and also one that I knew was doing great things that I could be involved with, more than just sending money to them. I contacted Gary’s foundation and they suggested that I look at the charities they support. When I saw the great work that IFHF was doing and especially that they were building a new center near me at Fort Bragg, I contacted their organization and they were very happy to support me and get the word out about what I was trying to do for them. I am so excited about the money we have been able to raise for the Spirit Centers and now that the run is over, I am looking for new opportunities to support them. I truly will be excited when I can go down and present them with the check for the monies we have raised during this effort.
The biggest challenge on this run was CONSTANTLY being vigilant to the thousands of oncoming cars that I had to face daily during my run and making sure I did not get hit. I ran the run for the most part totally self-supported, carrying only what I carried on my back and with no support vehicle. I ran most of the 667 miles facing oncoming traffic, with all the cars and large trucks, literally passing only inches away from me, and driving at high speeds. Some of that happened in the dead of night when people would be tired and not as attentive. Those periods during the night were the toughest because I had to really struggle to keep mentally keen to those oncoming vehicles. I waved to every car that passed. I did this for 2 reasons; First, to be friendly and see all the friendly responses, but also to make sure people saw me. I actually did get hit by a car when I was in Lenoir, NC. I let my guard down for a split second and a lady who wasn’t paying attention, hit me doing about 25 miles per hour. My left leg was very sore for about 3 days, but luckily no permanent damage was done and I was able to complete the mission. The other big challenge was getting the necessary food and nutrition to keep me going. In the 15-day period from start to finish, I burned over 100,000 calories and lost over 20 pounds.
The biggest highlights of the run were all the waves I got from people along the way from the passing vehicles and also the friendly greetings I got from everyone I met along the way. I actually had people search me out, after they heard about me from the local media, and drive up next to me, roll down the window, hand me money and thank me for what I was trying to accomplish. So many towns made me feel like a rock star. It was very surreal for me. There were so many times when I would be running and would be very tired and slowing down and I could have a car pass and recognize me from the media and wave with such excitement that I would immediately pep up and get re-energized.
Make sure you do your homework and know what you are getting into. I had planned this run for 2 years and did a fairly thorough job of planning and organizing, but there were still so many things that caused problems that I had to overcome in order to succeed. During the planning stage, it is very easy to get all wrapped up in the excitement of what you are about to do, but when you are out there with only 3 hours of sleep from the night before and you have already run 40 miles and know you still have 20 miles to go, in the pouring rain to get to your hotel for the night, it can be very harrowing and in all honesty, takes a lot of grit and determination to not just want to give up and quit.
ABSOLUTELY. It was a great adventure. I had some low times during the run, but those are the things that made it the challenge that I knew it would be. I have so many wonderful memories from just a 15 day journey and I can’t wait to write all about it and share the whole story with the world. I did my best to take pictures of everyone who stopped me along the way and donated to the charity. I really loved the expressions from the people I would meet and tell them what I was doing and they just couldn’t believe someone could be THAT crazy! I want to take some time off from any really big runs for now, and concentrate on getting the story out onto my blog, but I am already thinking about some big running plans for next year.
Posted on May 7 2015 in Blog