When it gets to the point where running 10k’s, marathons and ultras becomes the norm, what do you look for next. What is the next challenge you can do to top it all. How about an unsupported transcon! So, you have decided to take the plunge and commit to running across a continent, but where do you go from there, how do you even plan for something this extreme, what have I committed myself to!
These were exactly my thoughts when I first told everyone about my transcon 3 years ago. How do you plane an unsupported run through 4,200 miles of cities and nothingness. The place I started was the route, let’s just connect lots of places I would love to visit in the states and go from there. My original route ended up being around 6,000 miles long, wiggling through so many states and past multiple landmarks. At the time I didn’t even begin to think about the seasons, wind directions, Interstates and bike trails. This route definitely would have been an awesome experience, but would definitely need a lot more in time and savings, maybe my work will give me a year off….
One of the biggest peices of advice I was given was to join the facebook group for people who have or were planning to run across America. There is such a wealth of knowledge on there from the 50+ active members, who will have a range of advice and answers for whatever questions you might end up having! With their help I managed to get my route down to 4,200 miles, starting in Canada and Ending in Mexico… Corner To Corner. The route is still not 100%, I know that things will still change on the run up to the start day, and there will be almost daily route changes based on the advice of the people I meet along the way. But it was the start of my planning!
Next on the list was to work out whether or not I would do the run supported or unsupported. There were ups and downs to both sides, and my original plan was to run with a support crew and an RV. Now obviously this would be great as i’d have somewhere to sleep and cook meals, I wouldn’t need to worry about much equipment I would take as it would be getting driven along behind me, and possibly the most important part is that I would have friends and family along with me the whole way giving me the support and motivation that I would be needing every day. But, for me, there is a huge downside to running supported, the cost. Yes i might have been able to get sponsorship for the RV, but then there would be insurance, fuel costs, flying friends and family from Europe to the State’s, food costs for everyone, and more importantly for me, trying to make sure that no one was board along the way! So it was time to look at unsupported, would this be a better possibility? Upsides, every decision and choice along the way would be your own, If i wanted to take a detour or have an extra day off then I could, along with that I would be able to enjoy some of the 100’s of miles of cycle and running paths across America. This would truly be an adventure for ME! The downside, I would be by myself for 8 months (Although this was a stretch as there is still the millions of US citizen around, and you guys on the internet!), I would need to either carry everything I needed or push it in a running stroller, which means that I need to be very frugal with what I want to take, every gram saved will help. After lots of umming and ahhing, and talking to past crossers I decided that unsupported was the way for me to go.
So, now you have your route and how you are going to cross you need to work out how you are going to SURVIVE such an insane crossing! I still have to work out where im going to stay, how i will eat, how much water can I carry/push, can I get insurance for this, how many shoes will I need, do I need a visa, how long can I stay in the US for. These are just a few of the questions still on my never ending list of things to work out. For me as I have decided to run unsupported, the most obvious way of “living” along the way is to camp. Find a cosy lightweight tent and light compact camping equipment to fit in the stroller and hopefully someone might sponsor all of this equipment. As for drinking water, the only way that I be sure how much I can manage to push in the stroller is to get out there training with it fully packed out. I get though around 3.5L of water on a busy work day, so I will need to be able to carry at least that amount with me for every day that im between “top up points”. There are still many more things that need to be worked out on the build up to the starting point next April, but I would confidently say that I am 80% of the way there with my preparations.
One big part of this run is to try and get sponsorship from companies along the way. This is such a huge thing to write about I think that I may do an extra blog post next week covering this and fundraising for your chosen charity.