The 2011 Los Angeles to New York foot race

I hadn’t heard about this race until I stumbled across its Web site today. It seems a group of runners left Los Angeles on June 19th, and plan to arrive in New York on August 27th. They’ll cover a total of about 3,200 miles in 70 stages – all on their own two feet.

This, of course, follows in the historic footsteps of the so-called ‘Bunion Derby’, officially called the Trans-American Footrace. It was held from LA to NY in 1928, and in the opposite direction the following year. Tom McNab wrote a best-selling novel, “Flanagan’s Run“, based on that race, which I remember reading (and greatly enjoying) in the 1980’s. A modern version of the race was held each year from 1992-1995 inclusive, and others have also taken place. I’ve read somewhere that this year’s race is the 9th to cross the continental USA on foot.

What I find most interesting are the blogs and reports written by competitors in this year’s race. For example, an English runner, James Adams, is blogging each day of the race in considerable detail. Here’s his latest post.

Day 45 – Owensville to Hermann – 29.9 miles

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 11:56PM

Today was another “easy” day of just short of 30 miles.

. . .

The road was the same again and it was cooler than yesterday (not that I used that to predict that it will stay cooler, I know better by now). It was actually really pleasant running in the morning. We are on a country road (don’t know what the US equivalent is) but there is not much around other than really nice houses set back a long way from the road. I could be in Surrey.

I thought about the fact that I consider 30 miles an “easy” day. Seems ridiculous. I can still remember when I would line up at the start of a marathon terrified of dying. That actually was the case in my first marathon in 2000 in London, I spent months worrying about how on earth someone can run for 26 miles without collapsing and at the start line I had a stress nose bleed. A half a mile in I had to go to the toilet to sort it out and on emerging I was behind the rubbish trucks, I was last in the London Marathon. That was terrifying.

. . .

I saw a tortoise on the road : ) Actually Phillipe had to stop me standing on it. It was not very big, perhaps a little bigger than a big mac. It seemed out of place on the side of the road like that but it would not be shooed away, it just growled. Later on we saw a tortoise minus it’s head, should have got off the road.

The day went really fast, I passed “Second Creek” which is ten miles in and thought “no way, not ten miles already” but yes it was. The other miles seemed to drift by quickly too and the soreness abated too. There were flashes of high humidity but rarely was I reduced to a walk. Towards the end a lady stopped to say “you should have picked another day to do this run, it’s too hot”. Well we don’t really get the choice and she seemed staggered to hear that we had been doing this for 45 days.

45 days????

I finished the day before noon, under 7 hours, 1 mile further and 30 minutes quicker than yesterday. I was really pleased because in retrospect I was a little concerned that I was only 45 minutes inside the cut off yesterday, today I was 1.30 hours.

We are now in a old German colony called Hermann, which hopefully means they have good beer. Since finishing the humidity has skyrocketed and our rooms are horrible and moist. I am off to an Irish pub soon, a lot of us are deficient in iron and I have alerted the runners to the fact that Guinness has lots of it.

Tomorrow is the same again, plus a marathon.

There’s more at the link. Interesting reading, particularly for someone like me who’s partly disabled and couldn’t run even one mile, let alone 3,200! I suppose we live vicariously through such writing.


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