Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tales from Running Across America by John Radich

Finally fulfilling a dream of mine since I was 16, which is to run across America which I once told my coach in high school after reading about the Bunion Derby races across America in the 30's. His response, "wait until your older and have a purpose behind it". Well coach, I certainly do now at 56!

Since dipping my feet in the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica on July 4th, following historic Route 66, much has happened along the way - volumes to write so I will cover key areas which may be of interest.

Running with my friends out of Santa Monica was great and a bigger surprise was that my brother Ron and his wife came out to see me leave and follow me the next few days. Backtracking the LA Marathon route in sections was fun, passing through Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles Veterans Hospital and Federal Building continuing on through Hollywood and The Grahman's Chinese Theater for photos and passing by the Kodak theater (home of recent academy awards). Edgar Zarzalejo, a fellow runner and friend joined me for a delicious brunch at the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center. Kista and Michael joined a leg with us running out of Running Circle, a very popular local LA running store, neighboring running haven Griffith Park which supplied me with shoes gear for my run Across America.

Route 66 continues on through Pasadena, Rose Parade and famous Colorado Blvd. Champion runner Judy Maquire joined me from Monrovia (my home turf) running through Azusa, Glendora (my home town) - on through Upland and Fontana which I encounter four tough looking gang members who asked me where I was running to? “East Coast” I told them - they all high-fived me and cheered me as I run.

Norm Lopez from the San Bernardino Pacers running club lead me with fellow Pacers up the complex Route 66 through the mountainous Cajon Pass.

Now in the Mohave Desert, temperatures reached over 100 degrees as Judy and I entered Victorville and Barstow. Route 66 - America's once most famous highway - still stands, with towns of Bagdad and the famous Bagdad Cafe featuring colorful characters working there; t-shirts scatter the walls from tourists all over. Dagget, Ludlow, Amboy and Goffs: tiny blink towns never exceeding more than 25-50 in population, all with very friendly people and stories to share. European tourists take time and interest to follow America’s Historic Route 66.
Temperatures reaching well over 115 degrees along the highway, Judy does a magnificent job crewing me for the short time she can be away from work, keeping me hydrated and her fun disposition making this section more “bearable”, if you can call it that. Judy leaves me at Needles, one of the hottest places around (120 degrees), hot and humid along the Colorado River. I carry on with my baby jogger and supplies towards Arizona. Legs still holding up, no blisters thanks to my injinji toe socks ( and Natural Vitality Nutritional products ( keeping me running strong and long.

Made it to Flagstaff! Made 35 miles today! Beautiful run: I left Williams, but beforehaving a nice breakfast at the local café the owner offered me a free meal. He was Greek and took a real interest in my run and I mentioned I had run through Greece in 99. Also the waitress who served me tells me she saw me running on I-40 to Williams. I signed a The Way to Happiness copy. She was so nice and full of compliments - I blushed! I left Williams with a warm feeling in my heart. People really are nice there. Despite much thunder and lightening, hail and buckets of rain.
Ran the Arizona Divide – the highest point on Route 66 (I-40) @7,300 feet. New Mexico mayhave peaks over 6,000 feet. Received many honks from truckers and cars today, and waves. Coming off the I-40 into Flagstaff I continued right on Route 66. What a very nice run: you see many nice upscale homes surrounded by forest, Ponderosa Pines, leading into big and busy Flagstaff, a real mountain town. I spoke with many wonderful people and handed out copies of The Way to Happiness booklet.

I continued on with my journey and will soon reach New Mexico. More to follow!

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