Michael Wardian, a 48-year-old resident of Arlington, Virginia, on Friday finished running the entire length of the United States, joining the group of fewer than 400 people who are known to have crossed the US on foot.
Along the way, Wardian also collected money for helping families around the world get access to clean drinking water. By the time he was about to complete what he set out to accomplish, he collected more than $100,000 – which will be donated to charitable organization World Vision.
Team Injinji's Mike Wardian has officially completed his #RunningHome project! He traversed the US along Route 50, from San Francisco, CA to Dewey Beach, DE in 62 days, covering 3,234 miles & raising over $100k for clean water initiatives w/ @WorldVision.
Congrats @mikewardian!! pic.twitter.com/C7KUGwyjMv
— Injinji (@injinji) July 1, 2022
Wardian told USA Today that despite the hardships he always felt like he ‘was made to do this’. “This is my jam, for sure,” Wardian was quoted as saying by USA Today.
His feat reminds people of the Tom Hanks-starrer Forrest Gump where the lead character did a similar feat.
Ultramarathon runner and Arlington County resident @mikewardian finished his cross country run at dawn this morning. "It's a huge sense of satisfaction but also exhaustion," he said. Wardian was inspired by Forest Gump's cross country run. "This has been a dream of mine for 20 https://t.co/c5PGxAqReW
— Heather Curtis (@HeatherMCurtis1) July 1, 2022
Wardien’s journey began on May 1 which encompassed 3,234 miles, across 13 states, with more than 132,000 feet in elevation change.
Many ultra-runners have not even attempted such a feat. His target was 75 days but he finished significantly ahead of schedule as he dipped his toes in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Delaware.
He told reporters that every single day was filled with adventure.
During his journey, 11 and 15 hours a day on the move, covering close to 84 kilometers on an average since he began his adventure. He arranged a Recreational vehicle (RV) where he spent his night.
During most of his runs, he was alone. He was at times accompanied by friends, fellow ultra-runners, weekend joggers but mostly jogged by himself.
The journey was not without pain. It was herniated discs in his back which pushed him to take up this challenge. He suffered from blisters, ran through searing 43.3°C heat in Illinois and ran through snow in Colorado.
This is also not the first time Wardien has accomplished such a feat – an ex-Michigan state lacrosse player Wardien ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
An international ship broker by trade Wardien decided to take a break from his day job and met up with Eric Belz, who helped him by driving the RV and supporting Wardian throughout his journey. Belz in 2016 helped ultramarathoner Karl Meltzer run the Appalachian Trail in record time.
Along with blisters and sores, Wardien said there were some who rolled their car windows to call him an idiot, while truck drivers also tried to nudge him off track but it is the memories of friends he made along the way that he carries with him.
“I’m so Team America right now!,” Wardien said. He said despite the negativity seen across American society, there was remarkable support throughout the way.
Meanwhile other marathoners have marveled at the mental fortitude displayed by Wardien.
“Even most ultra-runners can’t do this in a day, at his pace. He’s sort of that superhuman that can just move,” James Hale, a 42-year-old ultra-runner from Catonsville, Maryland said.