RBC I The idea of completing a marathon is a dream for some, a nightmare for others.
For the vast majority, however, the thought of running 26.2 miles a day for eight months falls squarely in the second category.
That is exactly what Phil King is doing, and he’s loving it. The Illinois native, who turned 34 on the road last month, is running through Rio Blanco County this week along Highways 13 and 64 as he crosses America. Four thousand plus miles—from Delaware to San Francisco—with nothing but an RV, 11 pairs of running shoes (so far), and 6,000 calories a day.
“I absolutely love it. It’s really a dream come true,” King said.
When he lost his mother and best friend to suicide within six months of each other, exercise was a way to help him work through the grief process. Crossing the country to honor their memory allows him to combine his love of running with his passion for spreading the word about mental health issues and suicide prevention awareness.
It’s also a heck of an adventure.
First, he lost his driver in Iowa, which means he has to drive his RV 13 miles, park it, run half a marathon, run back to the RV and drive it on down the road to the next location.
More recently, he ended up “shirtless and alone” on Colorado’s Georgia Pass after losing his GPS device and some unfortunate directions by Google Maps. Luckily, a Vietnam vet named Don happened along at exactly the right time.
Don is one of many Good Samaritans King has met along the way.
“The people have been amazing,” he said. “So many strangers send me messages just thanking me for what I’m doing and then they tell me their story and I have a new friend.”
The connections he’s made, running through Glenwood Canyon, and being able to lay on his RV and see thousands more stars than he does back home, have been some of his favorite parts of the journey.
He’s not sure where he’ll end up after this (although Colorado is a strong contender), but he has plans to start a website to connect other runners and walkers who either have or are planning on crossing the USA and writing a book covering a variety of topics, including mental health, with a friend.
King is running through the county during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, which takes place Sept. 5-11. You can find more information about his journey and donate to his cause at www.runforlisaking.org, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website at www.afsp.org, or you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.