More AT Photos


Runtrails Home Page




Appalachian Trail Conference


Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club


Fueled by:

























































































































































































Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
Previous          Journal Topics by Date            Next
"My first reaction when I read your journal entry today [9-20]was "Oh no!  It's
almost over!"  My husband and I have been on your journey with you since
about the middle of your prep entries.  We've really enjoyed reading all
about your adventure so much so that even though we're very excited for you
that you're almost finished, we're kind of sad that pretty soon we won't have
the entries to look forward to . . . We wish you well as you're coming down the home stretch to the finish line but we'll miss you when you're done!"
- faithful readers, Susan and Dave

Cover kids!  We were shocked to see ourselves on the cover of our favorite magazine this month.

Here is the second installment of interesting journals to read when the weather gets cold and nasty this winter . . .

I'm glad I waited a little while to write the last two entries. I found a second gold mine of web sites for you to peruse just this past week when we received the November issue of UltraRunning magazine. It has twenty-five pages (one-third of the magazine) of interviews, articles, and photos of journey runners and hikers, including our AT Adventure Run. It's taken me several days to check out all the sites.

If you don't already subscribe to the magazine, you'll need to find someone who does and ask to borrow his/her copy to read the articles. Or you can go to the website and order a copy for $5.00 including postage (same for back issues). The magazine is not found on newsstands and the web site,, doesn't include all the articles.

We recommend you subscribe if you're an ultra runner or aspire to run ultras. I got the magazine for two years before I started running ultras just to educate myself and work up the courage to try one. Or give a gift subscription to a friend or loved one this holiday season.


Boy, were we shocked to find out we were on the cover of the magazine this month! That's never happened to either of us before and isn't likely to happen ever again because cover subjects are usually race winners, not mid- to back-of-the-pack runners like us. We hope this gives inspiration to runners everywhere, the majority of whom will never win a race or set a speed record.

We knew this issue would focus on "journey runs" such as the new speed records set this summer on the Pacific Crest Trail  by David Horton and on the Appalachian Trail by Andrew Thompson. We didn't realize how much ELSE would be included in the special section.

We were very surprised that Don Allison, the editor/publisher, gave our story so much coverage since I didn't set a record (except for longest journal entries, maybe!!). Thank you, Don, for all your kind words about us, this web site, and our trek "for real people."

Janice Anderson wrote a very nice introduction to my interview and reminisced about our friendship and running experiences over the past two decades. Janice also has the dream to run the AT. She's fast enough to have won numerous road and trail races over the years and she has represented our country several times at international 100K championships. She is still young (under forty) and is definitely capable of obliterating the women's speed record on the AT but, alas, cannot leave her job for seven or eight weeks to do it. I hope some day soon she is able to see her AT dream come true, too.

I've really enjoyed this issue of UltraRunning, not just because of the attention our AT adventure run received but also because I am inspired by all the OTHER interesting journey runs and hikes that are included. I was unaware of most of them. They are the focus of this journal entry.


As Don Allison explained in his UltraRunning introduction, journey runs are treks that runners or hikers take on their own, away from traditional race settings. They can be on trails or roads, for any distance from across a state to across a country - or around the entire world!

Some folks run or hike completely solo, carrying (in a pack) or pushing (in a baby jogger or some similar contraption) the gear and nourishment they require. Some pair up with a buddy. Others are crewed in one manner or another with a vehicle.

Some journey runners go at a leisurely pace while others try to set speed records on established routes like the AT, PCT, or Long Trail. Some keep journals, some write books, and some do their treks without any publicity. Most seek to fulfill their dream of seeing the world up close and on foot.

There are few or no "rules" on journey runs. They are limited only by the imagination of the people who dream them up and then go out and do them!

Here are brief descriptions of several journey runners and hikers that Don Allison highlighted in this issue. I have eyeballed the web sites but haven't read all the entries yet.


I suggest you look at these two web sites first so you can follow these hikers in "real time" while they are still on the trails and roads. You can even join Cave Dog on one or more of his remaining hikes, if you want.

"CAVE DOG" AKA TED KEISER:  See for Ted's innovative "50 Ultras in 50 States in Fewer than 100 Days" quest. As Don Allison remarks, "That, folks, requires some serious logistical planning." No joke!

Ted is famous for his mountaineering, speed hiking, and ultra running records. See the bottom of his home page for his many other adventures - you can spend a lot of time on this site! It's not surprising he was game for this new twist, which is sponsored by the makers of Duofold outdoor wear. It is a celebration of the company's 100-year anniversary and also a tribute to Bob Marshall, the famous crusader for wilderness preservation. 

This photo is from Cave Dog's web site during his 2003 speed record climbing all the 6,000-footers in the southern Appalachians:

Hikers and runners are invited to join Cave Dog and The Dog Team on the remaining hikes. Ted's hiking, not running. Most of the states have already been completed, but there are about ten more between now and November 28 in the eastern US. I've enjoyed reading some of the journal entries from the hikes already done and plan to read all of them soon. (Someone on his team is writing the journal, not Cave Dog.)

"FAT MAN" AKA STEVE VAUGHT: A 39-year-old self-described happily married man with two children, Steve got disgusted with the excess weight he couldn't lose (he was over 400 pounds) and decided to do something pretty drastic - walk across the entire United States to find out why he overeats. He's in Oklahoma now, a little more than halfway between San Diego, California and New York City.

You don't have to be overweight to connect emotionally with this man. He's getting more publicity than he can handle and is even being harassed by some evil folks who are trying to sabotage his efforts. I just don't get that. I hope he finds the happiness he's seeking, whether he makes it to NYC or not. His wife was initially writing the journal but it appears Steve has been doing the writing since the end of August. The farther he walks, the more he's writing. See This photo from his web site was taken in California, his first state:



"THE RUNNER" AKA DAVID HORTON: David significantly lowered the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) speed record this summer by completing the 2,600+ mile trail in 67 days and seven hours. Krissy Moehl Sybrowsky wrote a daily synopsis for the Montrail web site,, but I can't find it on there now.

You can also check out David's own web site,, for information about his newest speed record - or wait for the new book he intends to write. He's already written one book that I've mentioned several times in this journal. A Quest for Adventure chronicles David's AT speed record in 1991 and completion of the Trans-America Footrace in 1995. It's appropriate that with the completion of the Pacific Crest Trail out West, the three runs form a large "H" on a map of the country. Cool, huh?

This photo of David with Mt. Lassen (CA) in the background was taken by Mark Swanson during the PCT run:

David, age 55, has long been a mentor and inspiration to numerous ultra runners, including me. Jim and I really appreciated all the advice, support, and encouragement he gave us during our adventure run. He knows how important crewing is and understood what Jim was facing. Despite my turtle pace, David was a terrific "cheerleader" to us before and after his own epic adventure this summer. Thanks, David! You're a classy guy.

"TRAIL DOG" AKA ANDREW THOMPSON: In his third attempt since 2001, Andrew was successful this year in breaking the previous AT speed record set by Peter Palmer by about one day. Andrew, who is 29, lives and trains in New Hampshire. In his first two attempts going south to north, he was stymied in New England by bad weather and stopped running/hiking when he knew he couldn't beat the record. This time he reduced his chances of snow and flooding in the north by starting in Maine and going south but he encountered considerable hot weather the rest of the way to Georgia.

Andrew actually started twice this year. On his first attempt in late May, the snow was too high in Maine for him to make good progress. He stopped after a few days and resumed - from the start, not where he left off - a couple weeks later. That meant climbing Mt. Katahdin twice and dealing with snowmelt across the un-bridged rivers in Maine during June. But he's tenacious, tough, and young. He reached his goal this time.

You can find a weekly account of his run on the Inov-8 shoe company web site, In an interview in UltraRunning, Andrew says his short-term goal is to "write a book." I'm guessing it would be about his AT journey run but I don't know that for a fact. .


These eight intrepid ultra runners and walkers completed journey runs/hikes the whole width of the country recently. All of them except one ran on the roads.

JONATHON WILLIAMS, age 26, from Connecticut is one of the youngest solo transcontinental runners ever. He ran on highways from Newport Beach, California to Newport, Rhode Island in just over over four months this year. "Willy" pushed a baby jogger with his supplies and did not use a support vehicle. See for his enthusiastic journal. This photo of the last day  is from his web site:

MATT WYBLE AND BRANDON NEWLIN, teenagers from Michigan, paired up this year to run on pavement from Atlantic City to Lincoln, Oregon (westbound, which is harder than going eastbound because it's "into the wind"), finishing their trek in August. They also used a baby jogger to carry their supplies and didn't rely on a support vehicle. You can read their journals at They plan to write a book about their adventures.

BRUCE JOHNSON did a solo supported road run this year from Oceanside, CA to Virginia Beach, VA in 105 days. He is planning a second transcon run in 2007 on a slightly different route and going westbound, the harder direction. Bruce's website,, appears more commercial than the others (he is seeking a book publisher, sponsors for 2007, a driver, etc.). He wrote his own short journal entries each day.

ANDREW SHURKA is the first person to walk the Sea to Sea Trail Network, a phenomenal 7,700 miles of existing long trails that stretch across the entire USA. Andy, in his mid-20s, is the first to connect all of them. He started at Cape Gaspe, Quebec in August of 2004 and finished 339 days later (July, 2005) on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

Andy hiked primarily on trails except for a 30-mile gap in Vermont and a 700-mile gap in North Dakota and Montana. He has also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (2002) and Colorado Trail (2004). He has an attractive, easy-to-navigate site. I enjoyed the journal entries I have read so far; someone else wrote them from Andy's information. This photo of his finish is from his website,

MATT CHICO AND LAURA SHIPLEY CHICO, a young married couple from Maryland, crossed the continent in 2004 in a different manner that I find intriguing: Matt ran, pushing gear in a baby jogger, and Laura cycled alongside, also carrying gear on her bike. They wrote their own journal sporadically, sometimes day to day and other times with gaps of a week or more, but it is interesting to read. It took them about five months to run and ride over 3,900 road miles from Maryland to California (westbound, the harder direction). They are close to their goal of raising $20,000 for the charity they supported in Rwanda. See I took this photo from their website:

DAVE BROFENBRENNER AND SCOTT SEHAN were in their mid-20s when they set out together in 2003 to run 3,150 road miles from Sea Bright, NJ to Florence, OR (westbound again, the less common direction). They succeeded in reaching their goal in just over five months. Although they tried running with backpacks the first two days, they quickly purchased a baby jogger to haul their gear so they could run normally. The used no vehicle support. Despite the age difference, I've enjoyed their lively writing styles and website at They sound like they had more fun than some of the other journey runners!


BOB BROWN, from Cornwall in the UK, finished a trans-European run of about 3,000 miles in a fast 56 days (that's an average of 55 miles a day!) in his quest to run a complete circuit around the globe by 2007. He won the Race Across America in 2004 and has run the width of Australia. He has outstanding ultra running credentials. In his run across Europe from the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal to the Russian border, he had a crew of up to five people.

His "diary" was written by others until the final three entries in September and October, which he wrote himself. He discloses in the last two entries that he and his wife have decided to split up, apparently her decision, and he talks about how sad he is about that. "It makes you think. There is more to life than running. All my achievements have come at a huge cost. Now I have lost my wife, who I still love more than anything . . . " See Bob is essentially a professional runner and makes his living as a motivational speaker and author.

JESPER OLSEN: I'm impressed with this affable Dane who has accomplished a verifiable world run, unlike the previous dubious claims of one "Garside" several years ago. Jesper carefully documented his trek, which began in January of 2004 and ended October 23, 2005, so it would satisfy the rules of Guinness World Records. Runners assisted him all along the way with lodging and company on the roads. Jesper pushed a baby stroller with his gear much of the way but was sometimes crewed with vehicles.

Several runners who accompanied Jesper in the United States and Canada commented on the ultra running listserve that he was very positive and humble despite his focus and fatigue. I was hoping to include a photo but the website,, is adamant about not using any material from the site without permission. You'll have to log on to see photos and read the journal of this incredible two-year effort to circumnavigate the world on foot. I'm sure there are books, videos, etc. planned . . .


Now if all this doesn't inspire you to go for a run or hike, I don't know what will!!

Another web site I recently found that includes journey runs, ultras, and other multi-day events is Click on the "journey run" tab on the left side of the home page for further entertainment.

Some of you - and you know who you are - aren't going to get any work done for a while!


P.S. regarding the cover photo: yes, I've already framed it. To us, it's a Big Deal. I want to buy a matching frame for the certificate of completion (below) and "2,000-miler" patch I just received from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The ATC gives those to all thru-hikers of record for free. We are ATC members, but that's not a requirement for getting the completion awards.


Next up: my physical assessment during and after the AT run. What went wrong and how am I faring several weeks after finishing?

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

Previous       Next

Send an e-mail message to Sue & Jim  

2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil