Running Hope Through America

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By the time you read this, Lisa Smith-Batchen will have just finished running 50 miles. For the 45th time. In 56 days. Yet she will still have five more 50-mile runs in the final five states of her Running Hope to America journey before she can rest. On June 19, Lisa will finish her 50-miles-in-every state quest near her home in Driggs, Idaho.

Let’s break that down. In this day and age where everyone is doing more and more marathons or ultras, little is paid attention to some of the details. And the details matter. Sure, just completing a marathon or an ultra is an accomplishment. But there are also degrees of accomplishment which do not make irrelevant those which may be a little lower on the ladder of impressiveness. Which is what makes what Lisa is doing that much more jaw-dropping. She will only have 12 days of “rest” in this entire escapade, while traveling the entire country and running 50 miles, let me repeat, in every state!

Lisa is well-known in the ultra community for a variety of reasons—all of them well-earned (e.g., winning Badwater twice and being the only American ever to win the Marathon des Sables.) Yet for years she has used her skills to raise money for a variety of charities. This time, her Dreamchasers Foundation will give 100 percent of the donations made to AIDS Orphans Rising. Dreamchasers was founded by Lisa and Sister Mary Beth Lloyd.

According the website, Sister Mary Beth, who belongs to the order of the Religious Teachers Filipini, will run alongside Lisa in her full habit: “a black wool tunic over a white shirt and underskirt, black headpiece, and a black woolen belt… and sneakers.”

I have been extremely fortunate to call Lisa a friend for about four years now and have been blessed to make Sister Mary Beth’s acquaintance on more than a few occasions. When they made their stop in Utah last week, I had the unique pleasure of being able to simply walk across the street and join them as they ran multiple loops of the place I myself have run hundreds and hundreds of miles—Liberty Park. I feel the park would make an excellent place for an ultra event given its accessibility and flat, safe terrain and Lisa agreed, crushing out her 50 miles here in the fastest time of the entire challenge.

Please take the time to check out Lisa’s webpage to see all what she has done with this challenge and how you can either join her in one of her last runs or help make a difference with her in this world.

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