- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

Right now, at least two people are running across the country, every step of the way.

Some might think this is a dumb idea, something reserved for only fanatics.

Every year I receive calls from these characters as they pass near or through the District area, looking for publicity for their respective causes. Every year, I pass on the chance, not willing to give attention to people who are running across the country just to be noticed.

That might seem like a hypocritical attitude for a guy like me, who was inspired to bicycle 30 days from the District to Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics in part because I saw fellow Bostonian Dave McGillivray run from Medford, Ore., to his hometown in Medford, Mass., when I was a senior in high school in 1978.

McGillivray, then just 23, and his support team complete with a Winnebago, ran 3,200 miles in 80 days to raise funds and awareness for a charity called the Jimmy Fund, which supports children with cancer through the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Two years ago, McGillivray was one of 10 Boston-area runners who ran from San Francisco to Boston relay-style over 3,372 miles and 24 days. Again, the race director for the Boston Marathon raised money for children’s charities.

People with extraordinary dedication can do extraordinary things. More than 100 people have run coast to coast since then for a number of causes, and at least two more hope to join that list this year.

One of them has piqued my interest. In a world of broken promises, Paul Staso is a man of his word.

To help motivate the fourth and fifth grade students in their virtual Run/Walk Across America challenge, Paul — the husband of Russell Elementary (Missoula, Mont.) physical education teacher Vicki Staso — told his wife’s students he would try to run across the country between June 23 and the end of October if either class successfully completed their virtual trek across America by the last day of school in June.

Well, the kids did their part. Then it was Paul’s turn. Paul’s trek is called the P.A.C.E. Run (Promoting Active Children Everywhere) and as of Friday, he had covered 652 miles by Day 21 of his 3,200-mile journey from Cannon Beach, Ore., to Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Del. Staso is crossing the nation solo at an average of 30-plus miles a day, pushing the equivalent of a 50-pound baby jogger loaded with his gear and water.

His latest stop, according to his daily log on pacerun.com, was his hometown of Missoula, marking 20 percent of his goal completed. By reading his journal over the past few weeks, it’s clear the trip is opening up his emotions, raw and honest.

“Ironically, some long-time friends [and even some family] have chosen not to offer words of encouragement for my journey,” said Staso, who also credits his 11-year-old daughter for helping dream up this project. “While that is unfortunate, it certainly does not lessen my resolve to complete this run across America. Perhaps they simply cannot fathom that I am actually doing what I said I could and would do.”

Make good on a promise? Preposterous!

Right behind him is Connecticut high school teacher Christian McEvoy, jogging from San Francisco to Narragansett, R.I., in a six-month, 3,500-mile fund-raiser for cancer survivorship programs. McEvoy launched “Coast to Coast: A Run for Survivorship” on July 1. He already has covered 311 miles and raised $107,000.18. Follow him at coasttocoastrun.org.

Sound enticing? McGillivray is preparing for another cross-country run in May, similar to his relay crossing in 2004. Two teams of 10 already are signed up. I have committed to reporting on the road for 25 days and to organizing a team of 10.

Care to join this fanatic for a lifetime experience? E-mail [email protected]

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