Running Hope Through America

Last Friday brought an unexpected treat to my training routine.

Lisa&Sister

Lisa and Sister Mary-Beth Lloyd

Elite ultramarathoner and endurance coach Lisa Smith-Batchen along with her running partner Sister Mary-Beth Lloyd were running 50 miles in Atlanta as part of their Running Hope Through America project.

From April 19th to June 19th, 2010, Lisa is attempting to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states to raise money for orphans in the United States and abroad (the “Running Nun” Sister Mary-Beth completes 20 miles each day). Though others have previously run a marathon distance back-to-back in each state, no one has ever taken on the challenge of completing an ultra in the same period of time.

For the Georgia leg of her 50-state tour, Big Peach Running Co in Brookhaven served as base of operations for ten 5-mile loops that Lisa would complete throughout the day. Big Peach invited folks to come out and support Lisa, running loops with her and her support staff. I was able to make it out for a couple loops before work, as well as their final loop of the day after my workday ended.

Lisa&Jen

Lisa and local Atlanta ultra-runner Jen Vogel celebrating the end of the 50-mile day in Georgia.

Though a little star-struck at first (imagine basketball players shooting hoops with Michael Jordan, or baseball players tossing a ball with Nolan Ryan), I quickly realized that Lisa is much more than a mini-celebrity within the running community. She is a warrior for good, a true champion of charity through her genuine compassion, humility, hard-work and sacrifice. It was a truly humbling experience to join Lisa for a small time in her large pursuit – running alongside her partner in crime Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, watching her suffer through 50 miles of heat and hills in her 18th state, and being a tiny part of the fundraising efforts to improve the lives of children orphaned by AIDS around the world. Just another reminder for me that running can be a small act, but take on such a larger meaning.

Check out this CNN interview of Lisa and Sister Mary-Beth describing how the project came to being. And to see other pictures and video, search for the “Running Hope to America” facebook page.

If you’re interested in learning more about Running Hope Through America, you can follow Lisa on facebook or her blog, read about and donate to the project, or check out the Dreamchaser’s web site – Lisa and her husband Jay’s coaching and training company.

Though just a tiny piece of my own Peachtree training, what a great experience to share with other local Atlanta runners!

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