Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Final Chapter of Running across America

Running through Pennsylvania and the Appalachian forest following old Lincoln Highway 30 takes you through the beautiful majestic golden Autumn forest. One of the highlights of my run was meeting 'Joe' the hiker who was completing a section of the Appalachian trail. Joe had good stories to share! Being low on food, we made sure he was well stocked before he left us back onto the trail which crossed highway 30. It did snow some on this section but did not stick to the ground.

Michael Hayward was willing to crew me into Atlantic City, NJ. Michael lives in Findley, Ohio where I stayed at his home and his wonderful kind wife Leni cooked delicious meals and helped to arrange some media and radio contacts locally. I was entertained by their very friendly cat Josi. Each day I covered more distance through Ohio and we'd mark our stopping point, returning back to Michael and Leni's home via our support vehicle until nearing West Virgina-where we either camped or found local lodging. 'Ben' my always reliable baby jogger which carried my supplies finally got to rest-but always on stand-by, should Michael have to unexpectedly leave back to Ohio (which he did, for 3 days.) So then I was back to running with 'Ben' the jogger and addressing the steep mountain climbs ahead. You certainly use different muscles pushing a 50 pound jogger for 40 miles, your arms and shoulders and knees 'sing' to you as using different body mechanics, you try to adapt the best you can. Downhill running with a jogger can really stress your knees if you do not control your speed as I quickly learned.

I ran by where United Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field during 9/11 in which terrorist overtook the plane. Heroic efforts of 73 passengers who over took the insane terrorists preventing a catastrophe at our Nations Capital, now a national monument.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania -home to the Amish- was a very enjoyable section to run through. Here time seems to stop with the Amish in their black horse driven buggies, cultivating their lands as their ancestors did. I was told the Amish do not like to be photographed and so I respected their wishes, (though many tourists do otherwise). Lancaster is now a big tourist attraction, always bustling with big tour buses powering on the Lincoln Highway, with their wind blasting me as they pass by.

I was receiving more friendly 'honks and waves' that day, realizing we just received some good press in the local Lancaster papers. While on a break in a small cafe, a family insists on buying my breakfast after reading about our Trans USA Run. The goodness of people is the part of my run I have enjoyed the most. Michael now catches up with me three days later and is eager to navigate me into Philadelphia. Michael, a sharp navigator, is always looking for the safest road to run along. His help has been just absolutely great. Your crew you trust with your life as any ultra runner or endurance athlete would most likely agree. Michael is no exception - a really unique special man who is giving up his time away from home to help me reach the Atlantic Ocean.

Philadelphia Marathon:

Knowing I would be running into Philadelphia soon, I heard about the upcoming Philadelphia marathon. Though already full with no entries, I met with one of the race directors at the Philadelphia Marathon Expo who had some last minute cancellations and granted me an entry! He was quite curious to know why after running over 3,000 miles that I would be willing and crazy enough to do a 'measly' 26 mile marathon..!? “To run in the City of Brotherly Love”, I tell him “and the great American history-besides it's a great ‘side trip’ for me.” The race was a 26 mile dog leg loop around Philadelphia, passing by many historic landmarks and statues and bridges. Not my best marathon time nor am I ashamed to say; my legs were in slow motion-having run alone for so long and now there were runners on all sides of me. It was 'culture shock,' but one marathon I will always enjoy and with fond memories. Very well managed marathon and course, great volunteers and aid stations, of course very friendly runners. You receive a great finisher's T- shirt and medal with bragging rights. A ritual many runners do is to run up the Art Center's many steps, following the path of 'Rocky Balboa'. I'll admit that I did this, slow and easy and humbled.

Leaving Philadelphia left a good spot in my heart. I met some old friends who I knew from California whom had moved back to Philly. 'Charlie' and I go way back and I know his family back in California. Charlie puts Michael and I up for a night in their loft apartment, Philadelphia 'style'. We have a famous Philadelphia 'Cheese Steak' that night.

The following day, with Philadelphia-marathon-worn legs, I begin my run out of Philadelphia, running over the famous Ben Franklin Bridge and Delaware River into Camden, NJ.

As I run across the Ben Franklin bridge, runners 'zip' by me on their training run. I seriously doubted they ran the Philadelphia marathon at that pace or just maybe I was moving too slowly with my ego talking to me-I felt like a 'turtle' coming into side 'cheetahs'.

Camden, NJ unfortunately is the second most dangerous city in America, East St Louis, MO being first. No city or town wants that recognition. Sadly a section I ran through had crime ridden neighborhoods, run-down homes, crime with drug dealers and gangs prevalent on every corner infiltrating the area. Sure I felt nervous running through this section and was warned several times to be cautious, including by the local police. Never had a bad incident-no 'bullet holes' as I passed out copies of The Way to Happiness and DVD's along the worst section. I found the people friendly and surprised at seeing me running and meeting with the home boys and locals, many friendly and asking why am I “running like Forest Gump?"

Michael and I made a special stop at the local Camden police station, where we met with the assistant Captain who took a big interest with our purpose and how The Way to Happiness programs could be implemented into their crime ridden areas. We were quite pleased we made a positive impact running through Camden, NJ. Even in the worst areas, good people exist wanting to survive and be decent citizens, raise their families which are constantly threatened by a handful of anti-social criminals. This was our reason for running across America; for The Way to Happiness and Youth, helping to make a safer environment for them and our future, establishing trust and brotherhood once again.

Running through the 'Garden State' was surprisingly more scenic than I had envisioned, along highway 30 I ran by several farm communities in a rural countryside with small towns popping up more frequently as I neared Atlantic City. Many wooded forests are spread along the way, hosting many animals, including bears, the locals say. Again I found quality tools along the road, giving them to Michael, likely left while repairing a flat tire on a dark night or somehow jostled out of tool box along a bumpy stretch of highway 30. Michael drives six miles ahead and waits for me. I like the 10km distance to run to for each crew stop. At times in bad weather we would shorten it or through tricky navigating sections of towns or cities. Mike has bagels, juice, water and fruit always waiting for me. Mike made the best sandwiches which were quite good and filling and is quite a healthy eater himself.

Day time temperatures were in the mid 50's and 30's at night; cool ideal running conditions but with strong headwinds as we got closer to the Atlantic Sea Board. Route 30 on this section fortunately had a fairly wide shoulder to run along. The cold winds of the trucks still power blast you, I never got used to that. Yet we are blessed with good weather and no storms for the next few days. Though it was Thanksgiving week-traffic was still busy. Little towns such as Elwood, Devonshire and Egg Harbor City stand out and pass quickly. I will never forget seeing the road mileage sign for Atlantic City stating 30 miles. You begin to feel the emotion build up- slowly but it was building up knowing this journey was nearing an end. Mike tells me a friend called and invited us for Thanksgiving in Pennsuaken, NJ. Pat Devlin and her husband Dennis who has cycled (biked) many thousands of miles across the country were kind enough to let Michael and I stay at their cozy home. Pat, a very friendly, upbeat person insisted she come out the last 10 miles of the run and finish with Michael and me; we welcome her company.

Giant airline jets are passing over on their final decent as we near Newark and Atlantic City. Now I see the tall Atlantic City wind mills and hotel casinos in the distance-deceiving it is-you think your a few miles from the Atlantic. Not the case. Its more like ten miles-a real mind teaser. Now in Atlantic City suburbs, you are surrounded by motels from low budget to the higher end 4 and 5 star hotels as you near the casinos. Oddly but probably fitting the location, I encounter a 'hooker' off the road soliciting her trade. At first thinking she was hurt or in trouble-not so as she attempts to "proposition me", here I am a sweaty worn out tired runner, old enough to be her father at least-- guess she needs the business badly I thought! Politely, I decline her offer and run on. Atlantic City has been called the 'Las Vegas' of the East Coast with towering hotels lining the sea board. Some still under construction and some abandoned before the economy tanked.

Michael calls me on my cell letting me know he and Pat are waiting at the Wagon Wheel Casino a half mile from the Atlantic. Soon I catch them and we run towards the New Jersey Boardwalk shore finding it closed off due to construction. Mike and Pat both time it where they need the rest room so we run into the Wagon Wheel Casino, waiting for their return from the rest rooms. As we are in the Casino, slot machines going full swing, people were coming and going as I tell Mike and Pat I would run through Casino towards the eastern entrance facing the Atlantic Ocean. People looking oddly as I run by them- here's a middle aged man in running shorts running through a casino! A couple stops and finds out from Mike and Pat that I am completing a 3,500 mile run across America, they insist on a group photo, another couple also wants a photo. How can I ever say no-running through a major casino at the last leg of a Trans USA Run?

Someone swings the doors open and there is the big Atlantic Ocean staring me in the face! 'Oh my god!' I tell myself with enthusiasm and joy 'there she is, Mrs. Atlantic Ocean!' Mike and Pat quickly catch up with me as we run along the board walk, now about 4:15 pm and soon to catch a setting sun in the east Seas are very calm as we reach the beach and I remove my shoes and dip my toes ceremoniously into the frigid Atlantic Ocean. I receive a warm hug from Pat and Michael, while some distant tourists cheer.

This was special, anyone who has run a Trans USA Run will certainly tell you. Each having their own special moment and personal reflections. For me it was a personal accomplishment and dream I carried with me since I was 16 telling my coach in high school in Southern California that I wanted to run across America. Now 40 years later I fulfill that dream. There would be a lot to take in and process, some who have run across America say for years and even possibly a lifetime, certainly a life time of great memories with numerous life changing experiences and your whole perspective of America and the American people make a big imprint on you.

Fun and facts:
Weight lost: 20 pounds
Shoes Worn: 8 pairs
Hottest State: 122 degrees Needles, CA
Coldest: 19 degrees Hookstown, PA
Favorite States: Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Steepest and Flattest: Flagstaff, AZ and Indiana flattest.
Scariest moments: Tornado warning in Warsaw, Indiana and thunder storms in Oklahoma with no shoulder to run on with 20,000 pound trucks hurling by you and being' power washed' each time while bailing out on to the side gully. Running on the interstates, very loud, narrow and dangerous, too many flat tires with my baby jogger. Almost getting bit by a rattle snake in Arizona during a night run.

Funny moments: Being stopped 15 times by the Highway Patrol receiving calls 'man running with baby jogger with' baby on board' along Route 66 and Byways.
Outside Chicago a lady thought I was a homeless veteran and insisted I let her buy my lunch. Finds out via Facebook I was not and makes a sizable contribution to my foundation.

Best 'Side Trips' :Running 12 miles round trip up 11,000 foot Mt Taylor in Grants, New Mexico and running the Philadelphia Marathon.

Oddest sleeping spots: Wooden 'Teepee' in Arizona, farm field in Missouri, tool shed in Illinois.

Best lodging: Holiday Express!!

Most Scenic run: Running through Route 66 along the majestic Navajo Indian Reservation with no cars for hours. Fantastic night running with a full moon. New Mexico was incredible, with wide open spaces.

My Advice and Input: Running across America is a challenge of a life time. Few will ever do it but some fellow ultra runners think and dream about running across America-not all will follow through understandably - what with work, family, life and economics. I suggest you research the routes out and gain as much information from past Trans USA Runs and each runner's hands-on experiences, good info over the Internet. March/April are the best months to start a Trans Con Run-I started in July, some start even later- but keep in mind weather conditions, as the longer you wait, back east can get nasty! Have a crew, solo is fun and challenging for the few only. Run for a worthy cause. Don't be a only for" thee and me" runner. Help your fellow man. Make your run and hard earned efforts count. There are many good causes out there-give your best for them and you will win too. Always get a full medical exam from a professional licensed medical doctor before you undertake running across America or any endurance activity. It is very strenuous and very dangerous running across America, the traffic can be treacherous and the efforts involved, planning and preparation great. You are admired and respected for being willing to take on a great adventure.

Feel free to contact me any time for any advice or questions via Facebook.

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. Stay healthy and live your dreams.

Striding on,
John Radich

In Appreciation: My run was a success due to the many wonderful support I had along the way and with sincere gratitude and respect I thank the following for supporting The Way to Happiness Foundation making a safer environment for our Youth and helping making my dream running across America a reality and for a worthwhile cause:

California: Dr Steven L. Smith, Edgar Zarzaiejo, Todor Trenkov, Ron Douglas, Richard Ross, Judy Maguire, Trisha Jackson, Richie Ettricks, Paul Godfrey, Friends of A Runner's Circle, Norm Lopez and the San Bernardino Pacers, Gabrielle Crittenden, Stan Nakashima, Bill Dickey, Deb Clem. Sgt Charlie Tucker US Army Retired Viet Nam Veteran. John Maguire, Steve Shepard, Brian Miehl, Ellen Formery, John Spencer, Mike Tlyer, Lynn Ward. Leni Mulller, Michael A. Hayward who was my wonderfully loyal crew from Ohio to the Atlantic Ocean, Gail and Janice Lance, Scott and Liz Futuch, Walt Bianchi, Cindy Oleck, Charlie and Fred Kress, Dennis and Pat Delvlin.

And to the other runners, crew and friends who assisted me a long the way whose names misplace me but very much appreciated and thanked.

With special gratitude my major sponsor Natural Vitality and Staff, Ned Parker Construction.

My family, who were always supportive and there with me in spirit along with fellow ultra runners and my Facebook friends.

A very special "Ultra Thank You" to Patricia Almieri and Christopher O'Brien our marketing and PR design person for their tireless work keeping the Trans USA Run operating in full force! You were both just incredible and truly professional and key to our success.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Keystone State

Many will agree Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful states in the union and I agree. Hwy 30 winds into scenic forested Allegheny mountains near by. I am abruptly awakened to the still climbs having been so ever 'spoiled' be the flatter gentler states Indiana and Ohio. Hwy 30 climbs and then climbs some more, my legs are not used to this! The breathtaking vistas of this section of Pennsylvania making it worth the effort to run and enjoy. The coal trucks carrying coal from the local mines leave their 'oily scent' of coal lingering in the mountain air on this 15 mile stretch. It snows one day-though not a heavy snow-it was fun to run through while it shortly lasted. Cabins and well crafted homes of stone dot the forested Hwy 30 (Lincoln Highway). Fortunately I have a wide shoulder to run on which surprised me, a few narrow sections in the beginning which made me uneasy as any runner would attest.

Latrobe, Pa home of legendary pro golpher Mr. Arnold Palmer was a beautiful town and friendly, towns like Irwin, Boswell, Bedford all quaint and with much early American key history, Bedford being one one of my favorites small towns. Also running near the Flight 93 Memorial was quite powerful and moving experience.

Pennsylvania does a great job with marking each historical landmarks all pertinent to our early American history and focal points of events.Temperatures now in the low 30's at night and yet a 'mild Indian summer' exist during the days which is quite a blessing being the weather gods have been kind so far. The last section of the hills awaits me in the busy hub of Breezewood.

To be continued...

Running Ohio

The Buckeye State is where I met Michael Hayward, who felt compelled to help because of the purpose of the run. Michael crewed me starting from Van Wert, Ohio just east of the Indiana state line - a small Americana town even Andy Griffith would be proud of! Here I run pick up America's oldest and longest highway, the Lincoln Highway 30. Mike has a home in Findlay, Ohio and is quite sharp with the Ohio roads. Each state that I have run through is having its own geographical personality. Long lonely farm roads stretching for miles, dotted with beautiful red barns- all symbolic of the Ohio landscape. Trans USA Runner Phil Rosenstein and fellow ultra marathoner join me for a day of running on Halloween. We encounter kids in their costumes trick or' treating before dark with their families. We are offered candy, hot chocolate and cider.One family took a keen interest with our run and the grandfather was a well -versed historian on the Lincoln Hwy -knowledge which he proudly shared with us. He and his wife offered coffee, candy and even dinner and a shower if we wanted-we graciously declined and kept to our running schedule. Running with Phil was a real treat and honor having him run with me-he ran the same route I was following, two years earlier! Phil was always a very humble and encouraging person- with crewing and generally helping runners to achieve their best- all part of his good nature and big heart. Phil briefs me on the latest news in ultra running and friends which I enjoyed hearing..

We spent a night in Findlay, Ohio at Michael's home. His wife Leni cooks us a great pasta dinner and went out of her way to ensure that were fed and rested. Phil departs back to Akron, Ohio to see his girlfriend. Phil's company and encouragement made my day and will always be appreciated.

Farmers are working late to plow their fields for next years crops, amazes me how big their farm machinery is and the control they have over them. Like an artist, they landscape their fields, their income and livelihood. Running lonely stretches offers its dangers too-dogs! Man's best friend-well stated and true. However any mailman, meter reader,runner and cyclist will tell you differently-dogs can be your worst 'nightmare' too! Unsecured they can pose a danger - dog bites can ruin you day and even cause serious harm. I've had close calls with dogs during the run, no bites-knock on wood! Been chased and charged at many times-my line of defense has been my water bottle which I have 'squirted' them with-works most of the time-no pepper spray, although it's been suggested I do carry it. Rocks also most of the time check their 'charge'.Running in a real rural section of Oklahoma I carried a rake pole which I was told by the locals to keep because of unchained mean dogs wanting a taste of your calf muscles. Never had to use it-maybe it was an intimidating object to them, who knows? Had a lab puppy follow me in Missouri-about a mile before his owner came looking for him.

Micheal waits 6 miles up the Hwy for me. Now parked in a drive way, a family is awaiting me to come by, Michael being the very personable person he is, struck up the conversation with the young family, as they were very curious about our run and The Way to Happiness Foundation we both support. The young father, who was a welder by trade - shows us the 'robot' he made out of pipes, parts, wires and how it was the main Halloween 'attraction' on the block. We are invited in for homemade pizza which was quite good. Michael and I felt part of the family, very kind people we will not forget, accepting two strangers into their home.

The following day Phil refers us to a fellow Badwater runner David Corfman's brother and wife Richard and Sue who live near Orville, OH, home of the Smuckers jam, let us spend a night at their beautiful home. Richard, a former bike mechanic was kind enough to repair my baby jogger wheel bearings and made it like new! Richard treated us to a nice dinner at a local eatery with some of the best homemade breads and soups and gave us a 'cooks tour' of Orville. Sue, his wife, set up a great breakfast the next morning before leaving to run. Great family!

We are fortunate to spend another night 40 miles further east at Gail Vance's home who crewed David Corfman during the Badwater race this past summer. Lance loves running, very upbeat guy. He shares with us that he weighed over 250 pounds, had a double bypass heart operation and has now run four marathons and is now training for another with his wife Gail! Very inspiring man-Vance is inspiring to anyone who meets him. He treated Michael and I to a nice dinner and was just great company and a unique person who has overcome major health issues.

Ohio now tends to become hillier as we enter West Virgina and cross over the Ohio River. It's always a great feeling crossing into a new state. We did receive some nice press in Ohio which carried over into West Virgina. People quickly recognized us and told us that they enjoyed the news article and thanked us for running for youth and The Way to Happiness Foundation. West Virgina and crossing into Pennsylvania was quick. Didn't get to see much of West Virgina.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Hoosier State Indiana

Running out of Chicago was enjoyable with the completion of finishing Route 66 still fresh in my mind. I met Mike Tyler who agreed to crew me out of the tricky sections of Chicago and onto Hwy 30, the Lincoln Highway- America's first Trans America Highway.Mike was a lot of fun and a champion wrestler in high school, sharing some fun stories on his odd but effective training methods.

I'm finding Indiana to be a very flat state- rarely did I have a 'hill to climb'! Hwy 30 had a nice wide shoulder to run on, but the trade off was the 'jet blasts of wind' from the trucks- still quite intense and 'hat knock offs' I lost count of! The colder temperatures now made it more challenging.

In the following days ahead John Spencer volunteered to crew me 3 great days through Indiana. John works in the Battle Creek Michigan area and had some extra time to help, which he enjoys (and I appreciate). John and I ran across Europe in 1999, Athens, Greece to Hamburg, Germany so John is no stranger to ultra running and crewing. A real honor to have him along for 3 days.

Tornado! Finishing a 40 mile day, we finished in Warsaw (not Poland!) Indiana - the weather was changing fast - lightening and wind gusts, etc. A „distant siren“ is heard - not having ever heard this, I didn't realize that it signaled a tornado in our vicinity! We 'staked' our stop point (so I could continue on from there, after the break) and headed off to a local eatery to satiate our hungry appetites. The local TV station was on with tornado warnings, so we had stopped just in time - my first encounter with a tornado warning that close by! Fortunately it was soon down graded. But too close for comfort-you could feel the low pressure on your body-at least I did. In California we have earthquakes and forest fires-this tornado was all new for me! Indiana has miles of farm lands, mostly being corn.

John crews me competently and we catch up on each other's lives and share some great times running across Europe. The 3 days John gave me were quite productive with some good press in Warsaw about our run for Youth and The Way to Happiness Foundation.

The Three Rivers Running Store out of Ft Wayne, Ind. - met 'Casey' the store manager , who passed a runner by me -“Ed“'- a snappy and runner savvy marathoner from Van Wert, Ohio, who gave a day of crewing and joined in with me on my run as Ed would leave his truck and 'run up and back' with me to his truck getting his training in at the same time. Ed was a 'folksy' personable guy- family man- father of four. Ed shared his experiences with me, of running the Boston Marathon and a 50km trail race in Indiana. Ed crews me to the Ohio State line on Hwy 30 with a large sign welcoming you to Ohio. With a good day of running in, Ed takes me into Van Wert, his home town where I secure a motel for my first night in the Buckeye State of Ohio. Ed was a big help and an enjoyable personality to run with.

To be continued...

The Last Stretch of Route 66!

Running through Southern Missouri I still faced heat and humidity, yet more tolerable than Oklahoma and Kansas. Missouri is by no means a 'flat' state with Rt 66 tossing in some rolling hills which makes you work harder. Fellow Badwater crew and friend Steve Shepard volunteered to crew me 5 days. Steve lives in Houston, is a seasoned runner and ultra cyclist, having recently finished a 100 mile bike ride. Steve was a big help on crewing me towards St. Louis. Steve competently navigated me along and with help from his wife using Google maps we found those 'beloved frontage roads' (not always Rt 66) which basically followed Interstate 44. We faced some tricky spots and dangerous sections with traffic. Reaching St Louis and Steve having to go back home, I am now in St. Louis, Mo!

In St. Louis we have a The Way to Happiness Chapter here which I connect up with friends and we receive very positive TV and press coverage. St Louis is a genuine Midwestern City, famous for its arts and music and note worthy people. Thomas Jefferson, Charles Lindbergh to name a few. The giant 'Arch' is a world famous landmark and surrounded by a path with runners enjoying the scenic National Park. No, I never was bold enough to ride up in the ARCH! Take the museum self-guided tour -- yes! Wanting to run around the park with fellow runners, never got that chance - legs were to tired and slow to hold their pace.

Springfield was quite nice and where Abe Lincoln once lived and studied law. I was welcomed to Springfield by a coyote darting in front of me. In Illinois I began to see a lot of pride in their marking of RT 66, making it easier to spot turn offs. I'm hit with strong head winds coming into Pontiac, IL.

Following old „broken up Rt 66“ was closed and safer to run than the narrow adjacent highway, but having to jump off and on . Tedious game it became. People honk and wave and I'm wondering what they are thinking, seeing this man run with a baby jogger - 'is he crazy?'. Taking a water/bathroom break at the local MacDonald's in Pontiac, IL, I met „Gene“ a native to the area. Gene took an interest in my run across America, telling me he was much into ultra cycling and has ridden across many states before he had a stroke. (Though I never noticed much of a limp or physical limitation.) Gene was a retired school bus drive for 38 years, never one accident or ticket, including with his car. Gene was a very likable man, we hit it off well. Gene talked me in having him give me a 'cooks tour' of Pontiac Museum and seeing the beautiful RT 66 Museum they have. Gene made a nice ever lasting impression and inspiration to me as I continued on Rt 66.

Joliet, Il a big town south of Chicago, here I begin to really experience more traffic and leaving more rural areas behind. One of the most difficult sections I faced so far on RT 66, extremely narrow sections, especially for a baby jogger.Trucks barreling down the highway too close for comfort. Camped off the road that night in what I thought was 'secluded' in a wooded area, only shared by a dog barking all night. Although I was comfortable in my one man tent, I don't recall falling asleep.

Chicago! After having RT 66 joining on to Interstate 55, "not a runner friendly section"- finding this out from a knowledgeable truck driver, who pointed out a frontage road that would get me back on Rt 66. Having to back track 3 miles was a bit disappointing but the only solution. Now running into suburbs, sidewalks are a welcome sight to run on and out of traffic.The longest stretches of sidewalks I have seen anywhere. Seeing the tall Chicago buildings and the Sears Tower made it clear I was nearing the end of RT 66 but yet still the last ten miles would be work with traffic and the city congestion. Rt 66 signs now more apparent, which boosts my morale. Chicago is a magnificent city with it's own personality. More people now, more odd looks as run and now walking my jogger, avoiding crowds of people. A lady asked if I was a homeless veteran, a vet yes, homeless not really, I'm running across America for youth and The Way to Happiness Foundation and presented her with our brochure. Later that night I receive a facebook message from this person apologizing thinking I was homeless and makes a nice contribution to our cause!

The last 3 miles: Meeting a friend in Chicago who happens to live along Rt 66 and the last 3 miles gives me a place to stay as I would finish the last 3 miles with friends and fellow runners/walkers the following morning. With almost perfect sunny weather,we follow Jackson Ave on to Lake Michigan and crossing over a block where RT 66 would officially begin on Adams Street across from the Chicago Institute of Art. We reach the start point of RT 66 and it was a very big relief, after running 2,400 miles and what I have been aiming for since July 4th beginning in Santa Monica, CA. I 'hug' the RT 66 sign knowing it's now complete and high fived by all my friends and even strangers who just joined in to be part of the finish. The challenges of covering 2,400 miles are now a reality and it begins to sink in. Still a lot to process. A life changing running adventure through harsh conditions,meeting amazing people along the way, you can't help but grow from this experience.I highly recommend you take a drive ( not encouraging you to run Rt 66!) and enjoy America's most famous Highway!Running RT 66 though an incredible journey, it is extremely dangerous on foot. Trucks, cars travel fast! Be aware.

Here some of the Route 66 facts:
RT 66 covers 8 States: California, Arizona, New Mexico,Texas,Oklahoma,Kansas,Missouri, Illinois.
85% of RT 66 is still drivable. Officially designated 66 Chicago to Los Angeles to Chicago in 1926. Much colorful history has been written about RT 66, movies made, songs sang.
Email / Phone: 909-336-6131.
National Historic Route 66 Federation, PO Box 1848 Dept.WS, Lake Arrow Head, CA 92352-1848

Striding on,

Monday, October 25, 2010

From Albuquerque to St. Louis

Tucumcari, NM. Small famous rail road town along RT 66. Treated to natures best light show - lightening and thunder blasts in spectacular showing. Jogger tires taking too many flats. Staying at the Blue Swallow Motel, owner Bill and Terrie are very kind host, very retro RT 66 rooms and nostalgia. Bill a former BMX bike racer found the right rugged tires for my jogger and saved me a day not having to search for them in the next distant town. Traveling to Tucumcari: stop and
rest at the Blue Swallow, Bill and Terri will take good care of you.

Texas: More open land and ranches, warmer temperatures now as I droop in elevation. Well groomed roads and stiff littering laws.Rancher stops me and offer me a ride to the next town, I tell him that I running across the USA and RT 66, accepting a ride would 'compromise my run' he says"no o ne will know, true I say but you and I" and God he says finally understanding and makes a donation to The Way to Happiness Foundation. Adriane, Texas, I pick up John MacGuire who will crew me. „“Road shock without running a baby jogger and having support and a car takes a while to sink in“. The jogger becomes a big part of you and the road-like family. John a ultra runner himself is very competent and savoy on crewing and navigation - a great cook, John cooked many healthy meals along the way. John was just a stellar crew to have. Amarillo a big town and we faced a rough neighborhood section, being warned by local police and people, John safely leads me out of Amarillo and enjoying the majority of a great and proud city with its own marathon and many local races. With the heat now over 100 degrees I became dehydrated urinating blood - John pulls me off at 35 miles and we get my fluids back that evening - next day still urinating blood, it begins to come back to normal with John's careful monitoring and insisting I take in more fluids - easy to get lost in the challenge and beauty of run and forgetting to stay hydrated.

Oklahoma: Rodeos, cattle ranchers, famous bull riders, gas around $2,44 with friendly country people with very thin RT 66 roads to run along. Humidity increasing and heat here. You become drenched with sweat after 4 miles - I'm changing my running clothing more often. Each time I'd run into a new state would be a almost a religious experience -you leave another state and run into a new one - that's really „Golden“ as any Trans USA Runner would say. Feet holding up - despite a very swollen toe-blisters are never an issue for me so far. Thanks to Injinji Toes socks one of our proud sponsors. Narrow roads mean big trucks and you are constantly moving from their wrath and wind which many times blows my hat off. A wave I give to each trucker who makes room for me - many do - some don't care, just stay out of their path - many times I've dropped off the road and into a steep bank avoiding these „solid metal speedy carriages weighing tons'' - valuing my life my family, friends and then the run.
Oklahoma City is a big town with many lakes, big running and cycling town. A complex route of the city and Rt 66 whereas Tulsa was much easier and enjoyable, a very upscale city, great roads leading me out of Tulsa.

Kansas. We are averaging about 35-40 miles a day - we quickly run through Kansas and have some nice scenic legs through this Americana state. Camping off roads and farms and ranches, and a nice motel and shower is nice.

Missouri: 'The Show Me State“. Famous for Mark Twain, the Pony Express and Outlaw Jesse James and many deep caves and caverns Joplin, Mo a nice old town-we get nice TV coverage here with the TV Anchor directing us to scenic historic Rt 66 sights.. John and I have our camping plans stopped with a pounding rain storm in Mt Vernon, Mo, ironically John's last night with me - we depart from „Rescue“, MO.

John MacGuire

In ultra running and sport we call our crew Heroes and Angels - John proved that - his crewing and help was great and much appreciated - I lost a special friend as I began my run with my jogger not having John with me - re-adjusting to the weight and mechanical motion I did not have as a runner takes a good day or two. Passing through Springfield and now picking up fellow Badwater crew Steve Shepard. Steve does a great job crewing and his wife from Houston goggles out our route via his Blackberry and we find 'feeder roads' along I-44 and connect up with RT 66 when we can, not to say I did not run on I-44-filling in missing Rt 66 sections. Steve crews me into St Louis, his work done and much appreciated. Steve a strong runner himself ran several miles with me while crewing me and prepping for the Houston Marathon.

St Louis: Gateway to the West. Rich with Americana history, Jazz, writers T.S. Elliot, Stan Musial baseball hall of fame and Charles Lindberg and Thomas Jefferson to name some. The famous ARCH is my stopping point. St Louis has a big running community with scenic green parks to run and areas to cycle. I'm really worn down as I stop here two months straight without a break - my 56 year old body tells me to chill a bit - Steve departs and my transition with my friend Brian Miehl takes place. Brian works with our local Way to Happiness Chapter and we schedule public speaking and fund raising events and press. Our Foundation is very well received and thought of. Brian takes time and gives me „a cook's tour“ of St Louis. Very unique and beautiful city to see St Louis has their own marathon in February which I have been invited to participate.

To be continued: On to Chicago with 300 miles to run to the end point of RT 66.

John Radich

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jogger John Radich discusses cross country run Radich talks to NewsChannel 5 about his Trans USA Run

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- Imagine taking in Route 66, all on foot.
An ultra marathon runner from California is making his way to the east
coast, logging 35 to 40 miles a day.
Fifty-five-year-old John Radich began his 3,700-mile cross country jog in
Santa Monica, California in August 2010. His goal is to travel the famed
Route 66 to Chicago, journey to New York City and finally go to
Washington D.C., all to draw awareness to stemming school violence and
promoting youth wellness.

Radich's Trans USA Run is sponsored by Way of Happiness Foundation
International, a nonprofit group founded in 1984 by L. Ron Hubbard, the
man who created the Church of Scientology. Radich and his trip
companions will distribute 'Way to Happiness' booklets and DVDs to young
people along the way. The booklet, which Hubbard authored in 1981, is
said to be a moral code to prevent decay in society.