Man running across U.S. to raise money for charities
LAKE LILLIAN, Minn. - As the sun rose over the farm fields of central Kandiyohi County Wednesday morning, July 19, near Lake Lillian, Kyle Lang started the 45th day of his transcontinental odyssey called Running United 2017.Lang, 20, of West Sale...
LAKE LILLIAN, Minn. - As the sun rose over the farm fields of central Kandiyohi County Wednesday morning, July 19, near Lake Lillian, Kyle Lang started the 45th day of his transcontinental odyssey called Running United 2017.
Lang, 20, of West Salem, Wis., is running from Grayland Beach State Park, on the Pacific coast of Washington state, to Coney Island on the Atlantic Coast. It is a journey of 2,967 miles that began June 5. The plan is to reach the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 18.
"See what the United States has to offer," said Lang, a junior at Princeton University in New Jersey.
The run is also a charitable endeavour. Lang is running for three charities very dear to him: Every Hand Joined of Red Wing, Special Olympics New Jersey and Great Rivers United Way headquartered in Onalaska, Wis.
"I've had the opportunity to pursue my dreams. That is what these three organizations allow for others," Lang said. Proceeds donated to Lang's run will be split among the trio of non-profits.
Lang began running at an early age, taking part in kiddie races. By high school, he was running on the school's cross country team. At 16, he ran his first marathon, following that up with several others.
For his senior exit project at West Salem High School in 2015, Lang ran 100 miles in two days to raise money for two hunger relief charities.
"It was that 100-mile journey that put the spark in my head to run across America," he said.
A day on his cross country trek starts early, waking up at 5:30 a.m. and running by 6:45. He rests periodically during the day, taking short breaks and longer meal stops.
Lang is drinking and eating constantly. Before setting out, he spoke with a nutritionist who recommended eating between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day.
"I'm probably getting 6,000 a day," Lang admits, saying sometimes it takes too much energy to chew.
Lang is also drinking about 4 gallons of liquid a day. He said most of it is diluted Gatorade, but he also drinks water, juice and milk.
"And, of course, slushies," Lang said. So far he has consumed about 520 ounces of the icy treat.
Lang is finishes up his daily miles around 7 p.m., hopefully somewhere around 40, and he and his parents drive to where they will spend the night. They had a camper for the first half of the journey, but lately they've been staying at hotels and motels along the way.
While Lang enjoys running, he readily admits that he questions what he is doing, and whether he will be able to complete the nearly 3,000-mile run.
"Probably only every day," he said. "Some days it can feel like there is no end in sight. It is one step at a time."
But he has support, both from family and friends, and his faith. Lang uses the many miles and hours as an opportunity to reflect and pray.
Some of his miles also have special significance attached to them. On his website, www.kylelangruns.com , people can leave a mile intention, someone or something Lang will run in honor of.
"Which is beautiful," Lang said.
His parents, Mike and Cheryl Lang, have been by his side from the beginning.
"They inspire me to get up," Lang said.
It has been an illuminating journey for them as well.
"It's amazing. We've been learning from him now," Mike Lang said.
It can be hard to see their son in pain or just exhausted. There have also been a few times where there have been concerns about which way to run, or having to leave Lang on his own for extended periods of time as Mike and Cheryl find a route passable for their vehicle.
"The mountain passes were fun," Mike Lang said.
Despite those issues, both are proud of their son and what he is doing.
"It's been inspiring for us," Cheryl Lang said.
Lang still has about 1,274 miles to go before he reaches Coney Island, yet he already has other runs on his bucket list. The big one would have him running tens of thousands of miles across countries and continents.
"One day I hope to run the length of the Western Hemisphere," he said.
Today, though, he has to finish running across Kandiyohi County and onward. Those who want to follow Lang's progress on his run across America can visit his website, www.kylelangruns.com , or his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kyle.lang.311 .