the run

The logistics of the run were simple. My 20-pound backpack contained a sleeping bag, tube tent, water sack, clothing (wind suit, rain parka, long underwear, a set of street clothes, and an extra pair of running shoes and socks), toiletries, paper, pen, camera, and spare parts for the backpack. By averaging 25 miles a day, six days a week, I planned to follow the seasons and circle the country – starting and finishing in Mercersburg, and touching all the border states – in roughly sixteen months.  While continuing to work, I secretly spent more than a year getting in shape and preparing myself mentally for what lay ahead.

As it turned out, the adventure was even richer and more surprising than I’d allowed myself to imagine.  Avoiding publicity and following my one-motel-night-per-month rule, I slept on beaches and mountaintops, in churches and jail cells, rest areas and schoolyards, and in the homes of countless strangers who reached out to me along the way.  Although my encounters with hurricanes, blizzards, vultures, snakes, drunken cowboys and power-hungry cops – and Mount St. Helens as it erupted – provided the raw material for scores of memorable stories, I learned even more from all my quiet encounters with friendly people everywhere.  These moments of insight and inspiration, along with so many surreal moments of wonder, surprise, and joy, lie at the heart of my account