Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Kit Fox
In 35 years, the marathon world record has fallen 13 times, and the half marathon, 15 times. Yet no one has broken the Guinness World Record for fastest run across the United States: 46 days, 8 hours, and 36 minutes set by a running shoe salesman named Frank Giannino Jr. on October 17, 1980.
It’s not that people haven’t tried. In 2008, renowned ultrarunners Marshall Ulrich and Charlie Engle set out from San Francisco, hoping to reach New York in less than 46 days. Engle dropped out. Ulrich settled for the masters record, finishing in 52 and a half days.
Dozens of others have completed the trek: for charity, without shoes, for their own bucket list, in a kilt, or because they really like Forrest Gump. But despite ultramarathoning’s rise in popularity and exposure of long-distance records like the Appalachian Trail thru-hike, the decades old trans-American record still stands.
The next guy hoping to break it ran his first marathon three years ago and his first ultramarathon less than two years ago.
His name is Adam Kimble. He’s 29 years old, sports a voluminous brown beard, quit his job a year ago to travel the world with his wife, and decided to tack on a run across the country partially because he isn’t quite ready to get back to work.
“I am sure the fact that I have only been running ultras for a few years makes people think that this guy has no idea what he is getting into,” Kimble told Runner’s World. “But I know what my body is capable of and we are going to make a strong run at it.”
On February 15, Kimble will leave Huntington Beach, California. With a four-person crew in an RV, including his wife, Karen, he has mapped out a 3,030-mile route through the southern portion of the country before heading north to Manhattan. Guinness World Record officials stipulate that a runner can take any route he or she wants, so long as it equals or surpasses the 2,766 miles from Los Angeles to New York. Kimble has added extra mileage to avoid winter weather in the north.
“I am always on the lookout for finding new ways to push myself and obviously this is a whole new level from some of the things I have done,” Kimble said.
He was a Division 1 collegiate baseball player at Bradley University and ran his first road race, a 5K, in 2009. From there, he rapidly built up mileage and found that the farther he ran, the better he felt. His job as an event planner at Red Frog Events, the company that puts on the Warrior Dash race series, was flexible and allowed him to train. In 2014 he took second place at the Yellowstone-Teton 100 miler. In 2015 he won the 250K Gobi March.
Despite these impressive finishes, Kimble is a relative newcomer to the ultramarathoning community. He thinks that’s an advantage. “I will be more fresh,” he said. “I don’t have as much wear and tear on my body.”
That’s important because in order to finish in less than 46 days, Kimble must average 69 miles a day. He plans to be on the road for 14 to 16 hours.
“I really hope my body holds up,” he said. “Injury would be one thing that puts a wrench in our plans.”
The other is weather. He chose to start in the middle of winter because he prefers cooler temps. “We did our best to stay as far south in the U.S. as we could. We wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity to avoid snow.”
Yet even if he’s able to fend off injury and foul conditions, Kimble said the hardest part may be keeping a strict regimen. He spoke with the current record holder, Giannino, who said keeping a precise daily routine is the best way keep up with the mileage.
“Frank was doing almost the same thing every day, getting his body into a rhythm,” Kimble said. “A lot of the people that have attempted the record failed because in most cases they didn’t have a good enough schedule and were a little too loose.”
To prepare his body for the distance, Kimble has been running from sunup to sundown on a 9.5-mile loop at a park near his home. His goal has been to put in multiple 50-plus mile days in a row to mimic the conditions during the record attempt.
“I see this as a unique opportunity to challenge myself, to set a crazy goal,” he said. “By no means is this going to be an easy task, but I think I am at a good point in my ultrarunning career to try it.”
If all goes well, Kimble will finish before March 31 in Times Square.