University of Delaware Magazine Cover Story

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University of Delaware Magazine Cover Story

When my undergraduate alma mater the University of Delaware was interested in doing a story about my running project for the alumni magazine I was very appreciative. Little did I know though they were going to make me their cover story! Thanks to the University of Delaware alumni office for helping me tell my story of change and life experience. Get out and see the world, make a difference and enjoy life! #runningtheparks

p.s. This reinforces the benefits of taking a selfie now and then. You never know where it will end up. The photo is from Petrified Forest National Park (that's petrified wood behind me). 

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Vblog: Guadalupe Mountains National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Guadalupe Mountains National Park Marathon Run

This is a very short video (well, mostly photos) about my frustrating run at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas back on January 13, 2017. Why was it frustrating? Because I kept losing the trail. Not that I kept getting lost or wandering off the trail, the trail just kept disappearing. It seems, I think, there is either not enough foot traffic on some of the remote trails or there isn't enough in the budget for trail maintenance or both but I would be running right a long and then, poof, trail just disappears. So instead of my original loop plan I did a long out and back. Still very enjoyable but a little concerning at times wandering around in the desert. 

At that point I had run at enough parks and had enough experience on trails that I usually know when I waiver and can return to the path. In this case, I searched and searched several times and just wasn't able to find where the trail continued. No matter. I had fun anyway. 

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Vblog: Petrified Forest National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Petrified Forest National Park Marathon Run

Welcome to the video of my run at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. I ran a point to point 26 mile route down the park highway from the north visitor center to the south. This was one of the few all road marathons I did during the trip. The park has some trails but not nearly enough to string together a reasonable route plus the road, at 26 miles, was just calling me to run it. It was a lot of fun until I hit a 20 mile an hour headwind at mile 20 of the run. Until then I was on a sub-4 hour pace. The video doesn't do the scenery justice so it included some of the photos I took while I was there.

And thanks to Ranger Kip for giving me a ride back to my car at the north visitor center where I started.

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Vblog: Saguaro National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Saguaro National Park Marathon Run

New video from my marathon run at Saguaro National Park now up! I was joined by my friends Renee, Erik and James who all ran the entire distance with me on some sandy, dry trails. What a perfect day we had and what a perfect way to spend it running through a desert protected by an army of cacti. 

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Vblog: Joshua Tree National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Joshua Tree National Park Marathon Run

My friends Jen and Dave joined me for the marathon run at Joshua Tree National Park back on December 14, 2016. We had a blast running an out and back on the California Riding and Hiking Trail from Ryan Campground. Dave and I did the entire 26.2 miles and Jen did her first run over 20 miles! She overdid it a bit though and ended up with a fired up I.T. band. No matter though it was a blast through the desert. So happy they could join me. 

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Vblog: Interview with Ultrarunner Dave Wiskowski at Joshua Tree National Park

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Vblog: Interview with Ultrarunner Dave Wiskowski at Joshua Tree National Park

The greatest thing about my National Parks Marathon Project is the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made. Ultrarunner Dave Wiskowski received an email from his Mom about something she thought he should read. Normally he is selective about what he reads from her (sorry Mom) but something made him open this email. It was the NBC News article about my project.

He reached out to me online and said he would be there when I reached California to run at least one marathon with me. He made good on that promise at Joshua Tree National Park.

Dave has transformed his life over the past several years from being sedentary, overweight and without focus to an accomplished ultramarathon runner and an example of positivity to others in the world. He is gracious, generous and tries to be as helpful as he can to everyone he meets.

Like me, Dave is also a plant-based athlete. Our diets are exclusively plant derived and as much whole foods as possible. Dave is just another example of how a plant based diet can support extraordinary physical performance and overall health.

We talked about how we got connected, his transformation, diet and running in National Parks. We were both tired after running 26.2 miles in the California desert but we had a really good discussion.

Since then Dave has become a great friend to me but has also learned an important lesson himself. He should read all of the emails sent by his Mom.

Hope you enjoy.

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Vblog: Canyonlands National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Canyonlands National Park Marathon Run

For some un-remembered reason I did not carry my GoPro with me when I ran at Canyonlands National Park. Either that or the footage got lost between then and now. So, all I got is a short iPhone video of being down in a canyon. Shame I don't have more footage because Canyonlands is on my list of top five favorite National Parks. It is just a beautiful place and a blast to run. I have other videos from other trips to Canyonlands on my channel so please give them a look. 

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Vblog: Death Valley National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Death Valley National Park Marathon Run

Despite being a vast land there aren’t a lot of long trails for hiking only at Death Valley National Park. There are a number of jeep roads that double as hiking trails. For my marathon I did a 13.1 mile out and back on Titus Canyon Road. This took me through the fabulous canyon, through rolling mountains and up to Red Pass. I also passed by the abandoned Leadfield mining town. I was very impressed by Death Valley. It was much more colorful than I ever imagined it would be. There are purples and greens and soft pinks all around. It was also more mountainous than I expected.

My friend Jen joined me on the run. While we only stayed together for the first three miles, she finished only her third run of 13.1 miles or more. She totally rocked it on that tough terrain, in the sun and with a backpack full of water and safety gear. She killed Death Valley! Death Valley is a must see. #runningtheparks

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Vblog: Arches National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Arches National Park Marathon Run

Running at Arches National Park was sunny and sandy. There aren’t many long trails at Arches so I started at Klondike Bluffs running toward Tower Arch and Marching Men. I followed the trail around and then did an out and back on the unnamed jeep road with a little section of Willow Springs Road (dirt) not quite to Balanced Rock. There were only two arches on my trail, Eye of the Whale Arch and Tower Arch but I didn’t get good photos of them. I did take some additional photos and video of the other more famous arches when I was hiking on other days. Arches National Park was so cool. You just look at these rock formations and go, wait, what? Hope you enjoy. Get out and explore. #runningtheparks

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Vblog: Bryce Canyon National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Bryce Canyon National Park Marathon Run

Hoodoo you love!? The video from my marathon run at Bryce Canyon National Park is now up on YouTube. What a fantasmagoric jaunt through a Dr. Seuss-like landscape. It is amazing how little by little every night the frost wedges in between the cracks of the rock and pushes it apart. I highly recommend visiting and running at Bryce Canyon.

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Vblog: Yosemite National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Yosemite National Park Marathon Run

Here's a short video of my run at Yosemite National Park. I didn't shoot too many videos as I wasn't feeling very well that day. I got the run in and despite the scenery just couldn't get my motor running, so to speak. 

The waterfalls were running in October which is often unusual for that time of the year. Seems they had a bunch of rain prior to me arriving. I got lucky and had a nice day to run since there was still a lot of rain in the area. 

While running I hit the Four Mile Trail, a bit of the John Muir Trail and the Valley Trail. I think there was one other trail in there. 

October is a great time to go. Not many people and still warm enough to enjoy your time. Hope you enjoy the video. 

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Vblog: Great Basin National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Great Basin National Park Marathon Run

Great Basin National Park is up there on my list of favorites. It is one of the few places in the world where Bristlecone pine trees grow. They can live to be over 4,000 years old. There weren't any on my running route but I hiked to see them a few days earlier.

Great Basin is a contrast in geography. Standing on the mountains within the park and looking out at the vast flat landscape in front of you made me start to imagine a see full of ancient creatures not knowing in a few million years their home would be a dust bed. More about the Great Basin from the NPS web site: 

"The Hydrographic Great Basin is a 200,000 square mile area that drains internally. All precipitation in the region evaporates, sinks underground or flows into lakes (mostly saline). Creeks, streams, or rivers find no outlet to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean. The region is bounded by the Wasatch Mountains to the east, the Sierra Nevada to the west, and the Snake River Plain to the north. The south rim is less distinct. The Great Basin includes most of Nevada, half of Utah, and sections of Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, and California. The term "Great Basin" is slightly misleading; the region is actually made up of many small basins. The Great Salt Lake, Pyramid Lake, and the Humboldt Sink are a few of the "drains" in the Great Basin."

I find it fascinating that none of the water found there ever finds its way out. 

At the park, you can also visit the Lehman Caves which were discovered less than 200 years ago. 

On my run I made it to Baker Lake at 10,620 feet and ran along Pole Canyon. I also had the hiccups almost the entire time. Makes for an entertaining video. Of the 52 marathons in national parks that I've run so far I reached the second highest point (10,620 feet) it had the third most climbing (7,244 feet).

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Vblog: Zion National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Zion National Park Marathon Run

I had a blast running at Zion National Park. I ran from Hop Valley all the way down past the Grotto. I got a private shuttle to drop me off at the trailhead and then ran back to a shuttle stop where I took the bus back to my car. This run was net downhill. The last nine miles lost over 4,000 feet. While you might think running downhill is easy, it is not. Your body takes a pounding. I also sustained a minor injury during this run. If you don't like blood don't watch it. Always good to carry a first aid kit. 

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Vblog: Mohawk Lakes Trail with Affton High School Cross Country Team

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Vblog: Mohawk Lakes Trail with Affton High School Cross Country Team

A few weeks ago I had the fortune to join my friend Rob and his cross country team from Affton High School in St. Louis for a few days of their annual summer trip to Colorado. We did a 10 mile run along the Mohawk Lakes Trail near Breckenridge on a picture perfect summer day. We all had a blast and were treated to some spectacular scenery. I captured a good bit on my GoPro and just finished the editing. Check it out to see the beauty of the Colorado mountains and how strong these teens are ripping up the trails. If you don't think you can trail run, you can. They can show you how.

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Vblog: Gateway Arch National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Gateway Arch National Park Marathon Run

Video of my time at Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, MO. The park is nice but it is more a historical site than an expanse of wilderness. This visit was all about the people. I had 14 people join me for some or all of the run. They were all wonderful and engaging and proud of their city. I really appreciated the company and wish I could have stayed longer. They made the run special and fun for me. Thanks so much!

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KSDK Channel 5 News Coverage in St. Louis

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KSDK Channel 5 News Coverage in St. Louis

I was very fortunate to have Josh Helmuth from KSDK come out and cover my marathon, #52,  at Gateway Arch National Park. Check out the article and video here - https://www.ksdk.com/article/sports/meet-the-man-who-ran-262-miles-around-the-arch-this-weekend/63-567141511

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Vblog: Redwood National Park Marathon Run

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Vblog: Redwood National Park Marathon Run

Short video from my marathon run at Redwood National Park. I only used my iPhone during the run but I got my GoPro to shoot a little after the marathon. There was actually a small forest fire near the Tall Trees Grove. The area was still under record drought conditions and fires caught and grew rapidly. Luckily the fire brigade spotted the it before the fire damaged any of the real big trees. 

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Be Aware of Who You Are - Crater Lake National Park

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Be Aware of Who You Are - Crater Lake National Park

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I don’t usually buy firewood. This was the first time on the trip. Since I don’t use it to cook, it seems an unnecessary expense, a luxury. I was feeling a little depressed and lonely so I sprung for a $7 bundle from the Lemolo Lake Campground shop. No one was there. I just took the wood. Paid in the morning.

Lemolo Lake is 15 miles from the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. I was there for marathon number 15. I decided to stay at Lemolo Lake instead of in the park because the campground has showers. It was cold, falling to the low 30s at night. There was no chance for precipitation then but you know it is coming. Fall is short. The park headquarters at Crater Lake gets on average 43 feet of snow a year. Lemolo Lake, at a lower elevation, gets less but still an impressive amount. The campground had already made the turn toward the off-season. Maybe a few more weekends of fisherman but then quiet until the snowmobiles invade.

The fire lifted my spirits much more than I ever thought it would. I sat next to it reading my Kindle periodically turning my chair to warm my other side. I felt good there.

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Bob covered his bald head with a cap. He wore his glasses like they were part of him. His salt and pepper beard closely trimmed even after several days camping. He stopped by to be friendly; say hello. I offered him a beer. He went to his space and came back with a camp chair.

He was there to do some fishing before it got too cold. He came up on his own. He was planning to retire in two weeks. He and his wife were going to travel and live full time in a large RV.

He told me about his life working with glass. I listened to details of types of glass, methods of cutting and installation. He had many jobs in the industry over the years. He admitted many of the years were lean but he made it through. He even owned his own business for a while but decided management wasn’t for him. He enjoyed working with his hands too much. He swears he can outwork a man half his age. While not an imposing figure, I don’t doubt him.

He told me that his body is wrecked. He is moving around well but for all rights shouldn’t be. He crushed three vertebrae, had two knee surgeries and several other significant injuries. He said watching his body deteriorate with age is like a Stephen King novel.

He attributes recovery from all his injuries and professional challenges to his positive attitude. He doesn’t complain. He works hard. And he is proud of his work.

We talked that night and then around his fire the next. I told him about my project, why I decided to change and what I thought I might get from my trip.

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I told him all about sitting at a desk in New York City which sounded appalling to him. I told him about marathoning which also sounded appalling. It was like talking to a old friend to which time and circumstance has made the discussion like new.

Bob sprinkled words of wisdom throughout. Some recommendations I had heard before like don’t wait until you are older or retired to life your life. He made sure to tell me that even at my age of 45 I was still young enough with enough vitality to be able to accomplish many things. He lamented that there can be physical limits you hit once you get over 60 especially if you’ve had a tough profession.

He encouraged me to write a book about my trip. He said “What happens to you is important. People want to hear your story. People like human interest stories.” I’m not sure which was brighter in the Oregon night, his positive attitude or our campfire. It was like he was trying to draw the light out of me one simple honest phrase at a time.

One of the last things he said to me before we parted on the last evening was emphatic: “As you go through life be aware not of what you are but of who you are.” In the context of our discussion he was really trying to drive home to not get caught up in the distractions of the world so much you lose track of yourself, your reason for being, your joy for life. His phrase has stuck with me.

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Before my trip my job, apartment and city were my persona. These made up what I was not who I was. The time on the project allowed me to explore this aspect of myself. I continue to explore it every day. It sounds cliche but it is a journey. The more it becomes more concrete, the more it changes. For me I am growing past the professional title, the car, fancy home. I am growing into myself.

This doesn’t mean slacking. This doesn’t mean sitting in a cave muttering to you yourself. This doesn’t mean forgoing a corporate job. This doesn’t mean letting your responsibilities or relationships flap and sputter. It doesn’t mean being unsuccessful financially.

It does mean finding something that engages you. It does mean exploring. It does mean taking time amidst all the chatter, professional and family responsibilities to make sure to feed your spirit. It does mean growing every day. Not being fulfilled takes away the best you can be from the world.

None of this is easy but you don’t need to take a year off from work or engage in some extreme sport. It can start with a few minutes each day. Write down the questions below and put them near your bed. Read them every morning before you start your day. Don’t spend more than one to two minutes thinking about them (while brushing your teeth perhaps). This is not a deep introspective exercise. This is priming. With the questions top of mind they will either cause stress throughout the day signaling that you you are out of alignment with your true desires or they will reinforce that you are on the right path.

  1. How are my daily activities in alignment with my personal values?
  2. How do I serve others in a way that best uses my talents?
  3. How will I grow today?

An old glass worker told me and I share with you, be aware not of what you are but of who you are, and make that person better every day.

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