The Story So Far

dihetherington Uncategorised

The seed for running across America was sown in 2011 when I followed a friend who was taking part in a race running across America. To me it seemed amazing to start on one side of such a vast Country and step by step run/walk/stagger your way to the other side!

If I was going to do something as long as running across the USA I knew I wanted to not just run but go for the record. I contacted Guinness World Records, put in my application which thankfully was accepted and the training began.

According to the guidelines set out by Guinness the attempt should start at New York City Hall and end at Los Angeles City Hall (or vice versa). If two alternative cities are chosen, both cities must be coastal and the route distance must be equal to or greater than NY to LA. My run will begin at the City Hall in Los Angeles and finish on the steps of the City Hall in New York.

After two years of planning I announced to the world that my Guinness World Record attempt would start on the 8th September 2016. The route was done and I had been lucky enough thanks to my sponsor to be able to visit America and recce the route. This took two weeks of hard work as although we had planned the route via google maps we found that sections near the west coast weren’t really appropriate for what I was planning on doing so we then had to find alternative routes. It was an amazing experience to actually be able to drive across the United States of America.

Unfortunately the run had to be put on hold as shortly after returning from the recce at the beginning of May 2016 I was finding it increasingly painful to run until eventually it was painful to even walk. My leg was barely visible under all the taping – how could I start such a massive run with an already injured leg?

I decided to see if I could rehab it myself rather than opt for surgery but after 6 weeks of rehabbing I managed to get an MRI scan only to discover I had a lateral horizontal tear in my meniscus which meant surgery. You can imagine how devastated I was and struggled to come to terms with having to cancel the run but it was the right and sensible decision.

The surgery went well but it was to be a long road to recovery. My goal was still to run across America so with every ounce of self control I rehabbed sensibly with the support of Deana at Kent University. Deana not only gave me exercises to do she also treated my knee once a week and got me on the Alter G treadmill twice a week. After months of running on the Alter G I could finally bike outside (just once a week for two weeks), then I could use my Elliptigo bike instead (great excitement!) Finally as those sessions went well (another month had passed at this stage) I could begin to run outside. I was beyond excited but nervous at the same time – what if my knee wasn’t strong enough, would my meniscus tear again; all sorts of things went through my head.

My first run outside was walk 5 mins run 1 for 24 minutes so you’re not exactly talking a long time but for me it was total joy and I couldn’t stop smiling! Now I’m back to full training and ramping it up again in a couple of weeks ready for America.

Last year the ultrarunning community unfortunately had to witness a fellow Brit attempt to run across America only to discover that in fact he had been cheating and instead of running had spent a lot of time in the RV while it had been driven along the road at running pace. I simply don’t understand why anyone would want do something like that, it’s beyond my comprehension.

It’s very important for me to make sure that everything that happens on my run is above board and beyond reproach. To do this I will be doing the following to ensure there is no room for error.

  • I will have a Tracker on me while running so everyone can follow my progress.
  • There will also be a second tracker on the support vehicle or RV.
  • I will wear a GPS Suunto watch that will record my distance, time, pace and cadence while running. This will be downloaded onto Strava on a daily basis. (I have 4 watches)
  • There will be official starters in Los Angeles and at the finish in New York.
  • The crew will keep a detailed log book, obtain witness statements along the route, take photographs & video footage.
  • Receipts will be kept by the crew as additional proof.
  • I’m happy for people to come and join me along the route. No pacers are allowed so people who run with me have to run beside or behind me.
  • I’m not allowed to run on any interstates.
  • A film crew will be following me.

If I have missed anything out feel free to let me know as I want to get this right.

My Run Across America isn’t just about trying to set a new World Record and it’s not just about ‘me’ and my achievement. Doing a run like this is the greatest way I know to raise funds & awareness for my charities:

  • Marie Curie (www.mariecurie.org.uk) who provide care and support for people living with any terminal illness and their families;
  • Free to Run (www.freetorun.org) who I am proud to say I’m an Ambassador for. They focus specifically on supporting women and girls from conflict areas using the power of sport. Operating on the basic principle that sport is a human right and not a luxury, they support those living within conflict areas as well as those who have been forced to flee their country and live as refugees.
  • As well as fundraising for the above charities, I will be running a campaign called “Mimi & Me for 53”. The aim of the campaign is to encourage other people (especially women and schoolchildren) to take up their own challenge, set their own goal and see what they can achieve over the 53 days that I am running across America.
  • Their goal can be anything from learning how to swim a length of a pool, run their first 5k, riding a bike to school or walking for 30 mins 3 times a week. It’s also a great opportunity for families to do something together. (More information to follow)
  • Twice as many girls drop out of sport compared to boys once they reach the age of 14 and 42% of people aged 55 and over are inactive compared to 29% of the population who are all doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. I’m in this age bracket so want to show them that age isn’t a barrier to activity.
  • Sport is a great way of improving self-esteem, break down barriers and giving them the power to take control of their lives.

This will be the biggest challenge of my life and one that I’m certainly not underestimating. It would be marvellous if you could join me, we could share our stories, inspire and motivate each other while travelling on our own journey.

Let’s do this together – exciting times!