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Friday, July 8, 2011

"Never stop and dare to dream big..!" 'Jason Gross'

Guest blogger Jason Gross (my nephew) ran from Riverside Park in New York to the Santa Monica pier, covering 3,150 miles and going through 9 pairs of New Balance 991 running shoes. Jason is currently writing a book about his adventures and diabetes fundraiser. Enclosed is an overview of his experience.... enjoy
In 2004 I ran across the United States. I raised approximately $40,000 for the American Diabetes Association, a portion of which was used to finance the run. I lived in an RV from July 4, 2004 to December 11, 2004.

There were three support drivers. One was a lifelong friend, Paul, I have known since the age of 3. Unfortunately, he got very ill in Sedalia, MO and had to be flown home to recuperate. The other was a man, Dave, from the UK I had never met before the run. He had served as support for another USA cross country run in 1999 by Nick Baldock. When Paul got sick Dave had to fly to London, UK to take care of visa issues. I was alone in Lawrence, Kansas. Quite amazingly the other support driver from Baldock's 1999 run, named Simon, flew to Kansas City from the UK and served as support through the state of Kansas. We made it through Kansas in 2 weeks. Drove up to Denver to get Dave and send off Simon.

Near Kayenta, AZ I met a dog while running through the Navajo Reservation who started following me. I named him Boss. I still have him to this day. I felt all kinds of tired, mentally, physically, emotionally. The eastern states and midwest were flat and seemingly never ending. I remember running in Indiana and thinking that this was the dumbest thing ever and I would never finish. I remember waking up before dawn near Emporia, KS to get in some extra miles so we could get the RV repaired later in the day. I'll never forget the pitch black silence as I tripped and fell over my own feet. The fall seemed like an eternity. The thought that the run was over rushing through my head. When I finally hit the ground I realized I was fine and had nothing more than a few brush burns. As I started to come back to my senses I heard the Electric Light Orchestra blasting from my headphones from my portable CD player a few feet away, that I had dropped on the fall. This moment struck me as particularly absurd; after all here I was on the ground side of the road at about 5 in the morning literally in the middle of nowhere with only the super 70's sounds of the ELO piercing the silence. I burst out laughing. I felt what I was doing was so stupid yet so important. Stopping was not an option. I'll never forget crossing Wolf Creek Pass through the Rocky Mountains and feeling such wonder at the beauty all around me and such insignificance at the same time. A strong wind could have blown me off the mountain. Not too mention how I still marvel at how the hell Dave drove a 30 foot RV through those hairpin turns. I think I was better off on my feet than in the RV.

I was blessed to have the support of family and friends, and amazing visitors along the way. Before the run I somehow thought that I would figure everything out while on the open road. While running I found that my life still boiled down to the daily bullshit that is everyday life. There were no grand visions or light bulbs going off. There were fires to put out daily and miles to run. Somehow, someway, though everything worked out on that amazing run.

Now 7 years out and in my mid-30's I sometimes feel I peaked at 28. Life has certainly had its ups and downs since the end of the run. But I'm still running and truly believe that we can accomplish whatever it is we set our minds to. So maybe the run did teach me a thing or two; never stop and dare to dream big!

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