From the time I was 10 years old – running past moose, deer and other wildlife along trails near my childhood home in Alaska – I've been on the run. My footprints have included everything from road races with thousands of runners to solo runs involving thousands of miles. In 2006, I ran 3,260 miles solo coast-to-coast across the entire United States. In 2008 I ran 620 miles solo across the state of Montana, and in 2009 I ran 500 miles solo through Alaska. In 2010 I went overseas and ran 500 miles solo across Germany. In 2011, I ran 506 miles solo across the Mojave Desert, becoming the first person to run self-supported from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley -- and I didn't cache any water in the desert beforehand.

Why do I do it? For personal adventure and the opportunity to encourage kids to be healthy and fit! I grew up running on track and cross country teams during my middle school and high school years. While attending the University of Montana in the mid-1980s I began to explore my endurance limits... and never looked back. In years gone by I've run to promote various charitable organizations, including: the American Cancer Society; World Vision International; and, the National Marrow Donor Program (with which I'm a member). I'm 52 years of age and have four adult children. I've been a 5th grade teacher, coached high school track and field champions, and was selected as a Torchbearer for the 2002 Olympic Games. In 2010, I was inducted as the first European PTA Youth Ambassador for my efforts in promoting youth fitness globally. I prefer not to race the 26.2-mile marathon distance (which I'll admit I'm not fast at), but enjoy running farther... testing my personal limits with challenging solo endurance treks. Simply stated, running has been a constant in my life.

I aim to inspire and educate children to be more active and fit, and I consider my 2006 run across America as my most special and meaningful running achievement – mainly because with each step I kept a promise to 97 elementary students. My coast-to-coast run across 15 states was to keep a promise to 4th and 5th grade students at Russell Elementary School in Missoula, Montana. In June 2005 my then 10-year-old daughter, Ashlin, and I had a discussion about the fitness level of today’s kids. She wanted to do something to help get the children in her class more active and fit, so we created a virtual run/walk across America curriculum – from the Oregon coast to the Delaware shore.

I developed a website for the kids’ year-long undertaking and many schools across the nation adopted the curriculum. The project that my daughter and I brainstormed eventually drew the attention of governors and senators, who wrote letters of compliment and encouragement, and local media sources followed the kids’ progress during the 2005-2006 school year.

In an effort to motivate the two “teams” participating in the daunting 9-month trek (which were the 4th/5th grade students at Russell Elementary), I made a very unique promise to them. If either class could accomplish the journey before the end of the school year, I would run their route for real… solo. It was a promise that I was willing to work hard to keep should the kids be successful. So, as the kids ran and walked throughout the year, I prepared for the possibility of a solo run across America.

Both classes proved to be very determined and each completed the virtual coast-to-coast challenge in the spring of 2006 – a few weeks before summer vacation. The students acquired an average of 3 marathon distances per child (78 miles) during the school year. As a result, I ran all alone from Oregon to Delaware, a total of 3,260 miles in 108 days on the pavement (averaging 30 miles per day).

My grueling coast-to-coast run took me over the Northern Rocky Mountains; across the Great Plains; through numerous towns and cities; over the steep Appalachian Mountain Range; past the White House; and, through the second hottest summer ever recorded in America – all while pushing "BOB", my sole companion (which was a jogging stroller containing needed gear, food and water). "BOB" stands for "Beast Of Burden" and the stroller weighed a total of 80 pounds when it was fully stocked. I became the 5th person in history to run solo from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean across the United States, completing my journey on October 20, 2006 after conquering the most northerly route ever attempted. My journey was termed "P.A.C.E. Run" (PACE being Promoting Active Children Everywhere) and watched online by people of all ages.

I continue to promote youth fitness through an array of activities and frequently give presentations to motivate others toward greater health, fitness and the pursuit of their dreams. I've also committed time to develop fitness curriculum challenges
including a virtual run/walk along the 2,278-mile course of historic Route 66, as well as a 2,266-mile trek to and through the national parks of the Northwest United States. The idea behind each virtual trek is for students to run and walk toward greater fitness while learning about the locations that they virtually travel through. I believe that through this combination of fitness and learning students experience places beyond their school boundaries in a unique and challenging way.

Continuing on my course of promoting youth fitness, I completed a 620-mile solo run across Montana during the spring of 2008 – virtually racing over 8,000 children who were in teams around the globe. I shared the adventure through an educational website. It was the inaugural "P.A.C.E. Trek" and set the stage for my other endurance challenges, which have included: a 500 mile run through the breathtaking scenery of the largest U.S. state, Alaska – an 18-day endeavor involving over 22,000 school children located in 10 countries who logged over 118,000 miles; a 3-week, 500-mile solo run across Germany with over 22,000 children from 9 countries virtually running with me; and, a 506-mile solo run across the Mojave Desert in 17 days – once again being accompanied by thousands of school children from 9 countries.

I've been honored to be the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Montana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. I've also received the Healthy Hero Award from the world-renowned Mayo Clinic for my work in promoting childhood health across the United States, and was inducted as the first European PTA Youth Ambassador. My ultra-endurance treks have been featured in numerous print, television and radio reports.

I truly enjoy meeting and speaking to people of all ages. My message of learning to persevere through life with a healthy body and positive attitude is one that any audience can enjoy – regardless of age. Through each endurance trek I undertake I aim to teach children a simple idea: If you take care of your body it can take you on some wonderful adventures. Ultimately, I encourage, educate, inspire and motivate children worldwide to adopt life-long habits toward a healthy lifestyle. Through my adventure endeavors I also aim to expand children's knowledge of the world around them and to encourage young people to pursue their goals and dreams with the abilities they possess.


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