- A Run Across America
"What a wonderful way for young people to learn about promises, commitment and staying in shape." 2006 Run Supporter

One Man's Solo Run Across America In 2006 To Keep A Promise To 97 Elementary School Kids

In 2006 Paul Staso Ran The Equivalent of 125 Marathons in 108 Days Across The Entire United States... All Alone.

He Did The Run Across America To Keep A Promise To 97 Elementary Kids, One Of Whom Was His Daughter, Ashlin.

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Paul's Chosen Method...

When Paul attempted the world record for the run across America in 1986 (called Trans-America '86), he had numerous corporate sponsors and a support crew which included a pace vehicle, a motor home, and bicyclists. However, the 2006 attempt (20 years later) was not as complex or logistically stressful. Paul's 2006 run was a solo, unsupported trek across the United States coast to coast. The purpose was to keep a promise to children... not to establish a world record. He pushed his required gear in a three-wheel stroller. This was not a new approach to crossing the continent on foot, but most believe it to be the most demanding both physically and emotionally.

Those Who Went Before Him...

Eight years after Paul's first attempt to run across America in 1986, Forrest Gump (portrayed by actor Tom Hanks) ran coast-to-coast across the U.S.A. on movie screens in 1994. Since then, thoughts about running across America have become more popular with people both within the U.S.A. and from overseas even though crossing the continent on foot dates back to a trek by Edward Payson Weston in 1909 from New York City to San Francisco, as well as other crossings, such as the "Bunion Derby Races" held in 1928 and 1929 between Los Angeles and New York. Historically, only about a dozen people (including Paul) have run ocean to ocean across a trans-America route solo without "support" of any kind (such as a motor home or bicyclist for assistance). Compare that to over 450,000 people who ran a marathon (26.2 miles) in the United States last year, or the roughly 3,000 people who have ever successfully climbed Mt. Everest. The run across America remains a demanding endeavor that is still as unique and challenging as when Weston accomplished the first U.S.A. crossing in 1909.

Prior to Paul's successful solo coast-to-coast crossing, there were four other solo and unsupported ocean-to-ocean runners across the United States. Those individuals are: Brian Stark (1998; USA citizen; 20 miles per day; Delaware to California); Rune Larsson (2004; Sweden citizen; 38 miles per day; California to New Jersey); John Wallace, III (2005; USA citizen; 31 miles per day; Washington to Georgia); and, Jonathan Williams (2005; USA citizen; 26 miles per day; California to Rhode Island). Although there are others who have done crossings of multiple states, there is a very small group of individuals who have actually run from one ocean's edge to the waves of another ocean all alone. Paul is now a part of that select group.

When Paul began his run in June 2006, there were 5 other people who had planned a run across America for that summer. Each of the other runners were from different parts of the United States and ranged in age from 25 to 59 (Paul was 41). Paul's endeavor was the only solo, unsupported run across America during the summer of 2006 and he was the first one to finish a crossing of the U.S.A. that year. The other runners had organized their attempts to include support crews, accompanying vehicles, and/or bicyclists and several stopped their running/walking treks long before the finish line for one reason or another. Each runner planning to cross the continent has his own reason for taking on the challenge. Paul's reason was to fulfill a promise to the students. He was fortunate to avoid serious injury and was able to persevere through the second hottest summer ever recorded in the United States.

Paul aimed to complete his trek in 108 running days by averaging 30 miles per day including a few days off. This allowed for occasional rest breaks and for him to effectively document his trek. Paul became the first person from the state of Montana to complete a run across America, and he completed the most northerly route ever taken by a coast-to-coast runner. Also, this site is the most documented solo U.S.A. run on the Internet.

One Man, One Stroller, One Goal...

Paul's stroller of gear contained the essentials, such as a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, shoes, food/water, and more. The stroller was equipped with a small, waterproof Brunton Solar Panel (10 ounces, 12"x40" open) that has a maximum output of 9 watts (15.4 volts). It was used to power his few electronic gadgets (GPS, cell and satellite phones, iPod). Paul's satellite phone and service was donated by Spirit Wireless in Portland, Oregon. It was a Globalstar GSP-1600 Handheld Tri-Mode Satellite Phone and ensured that he had communication at all locations along his U.S.A. route.

The Ironman Sport Utility Stroller (which weighed 20 pounds when empty) was sponsored by Bob Trailers, Inc. and was ideal for the trek. Paul did not modify the stroller from its "out-of-the-box" form. Only essential equipment had been added to it (i.e. GPS, solar panel, etc.). In times of rain, the stroller had a fitted rain shield that could be easily attached to keep all items in the stroller dry. It was outfitted with lights in the front and back and had small U.S. flags on both sides. Paul called his stroller "BOB" because the company's original name was "Beast of Burden Trailers". The company changed its name to "BOB Trailers, Inc." because BOB was easier to spell and simple. So, when Paul refers to "BOB"... he's talking about the stroller.

Paul had a Magellan Explorist GPS unit (5 oz.) to assist in guiding him along his route across America, and he had a NRS duffel bag (12"x24", 44 liters) to store his gear (which fit perfectly into the seat of the stroller). A Dura Soft Cooler was used, which had temperature-reflective Mylar and closed-cell foam insulation (14"x9"x10", 15 qt.). The stroller also carried two CamelBak UnBottle water reservoirs, with each one having a capacity of 100 ounces. Each CamelBak was equipped with a thermal control kit. He also had separate containers for Gatorade. At maximum, the stroller was equipped to carry 250 ounces of liquid (or 2 gallons) - which equates to 16 pounds. In many locations Paul did not need to carry that much water due to its frequent availability. However, there were some portions of the route where towns and adequate water sources were unavailable. To make certain that the water he drank was as pure as possible, a Katadyn Water Filter system (11 oz., height = 6") was used as needed. The amount of food carried on the stroller was based upon its availability in upcoming towns. He supplemented his diet with vitamin "UltraPaks" from Road Runner Sports.

Lodging was sought from family, friends and relatives who lived along the route... as well as friends of friends and relatives. Teachers, coaches, and others were asked to provide Paul an evening roof when possible, and an occasional hotel was scheduled. Paul never had to use his tent, thanks to the lodging coordination efforts of Diana Sontag and Stacey Rossmiller. He traveled an average of 30 miles per day (210 miles per week) and spent an average of 8 to 10 hours each day on the road, depending on the daily distance to be conquered. Paul covered distances up to 48 miles in a single day. He burned an average of 5,000 calories daily as he pushed the 80-pound stroller of gear. The temperatures along the 3,260-mile route ranged from a high of 105 degrees to as low as 34 degrees at night. Paul focused on logging most of his mileage during the cooler part of each day, beginning his day at around 6:00 am. He covered the same non-interstate, 15-state route that the students did during their virtual trek, and dodged teeth-baring dogs, inattentive drivers, rattlesnakes, tornadoes, and more!

Is This Guy Crazy?

So, was Paul crazy for doing this? Joan Duda, professor of sports psychology at Birmingham University, commented about the perseverance and focus of those who decide to run across a continent. She says that there are many reasons why people choose to take part in such demanding endurance endeavors. "There is not just one motivation. Folks who do this see it as a demanding goal like climbing a mountain that will test all of their limits," she says. "But the training and preparation is a big part of the fascination, and everything that goes into it." There were many motivating factors for Paul, but fulfilling his promise to the students and seeing kids take a greater interest in fitness and personal health/nutrition were certainly of primary importance.

In 1985, Paul announced his plan to run across the United States during September and October of 1986. Although that attempt was unfortunately unsuccessful, he had always considered a coast-to-coast trek as the ultimate running challenge. For over 20 years he had received every kind of reaction and comment imaginable to his desire to run across the United States. Some people looked at the goal with a skeptical or negative attitude refusing to let their mind broaden enough to learn about ultra-marathon running and the persevering ability of the human body and mind. Others, however, were encouraging and supportive allowing their imagination to grab onto the idea and ponder the possibility of success. Over the 20 years leading up to his 2006 run, Paul had been confronted with countless discussions (both positive and negative) about his goal. Ultimately, his run in 2006 was centered around his own personal running abilities, knowledge of ultra-marathoning, personal faith, and his determination to begin at one ocean and end at another. He was focused on the task... not to prove a point, but to fulfill a promise he had made to the students at Russell Elementary School. This was indeed a promise run, and a promise can be a very powerful thing.

"... Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility.
It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot.
There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers.
But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time,
there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively.
And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone,
that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort.
In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being
-- a call that asks who they are ..."

- David Blaikie
Former journalist; Athletics Historian and Statistician.
Founding Member of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.
Former President of the Association of Canadian Ultrarunners.

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