The 100th Mile



SAM BENCHEGHIB update on August 2nd, 2019:

“In any journey, you have milestones. Milestones are a way to celebrate the small successes in an adventure to get closer to the ultimate goal. For a five to six months journey as big as running across America, trust me any chances of celebrating whether a state boarder crossing or the big mileage numbers on foot motivates me to go the extra mile and boosts me to never give up. 

After my first day, I was already one state down entering into New Jersey. It was when I took my first steps on the George Washington Bridge that this entire adventure started to sync in. With the New York City high-rises behind me, I was entering new territory for the first time. 

On Day 1, I ran a total distance of 14 miles (12.5 of those alongside some of my closest friends who helped me launch from Battery Park). I finished the day around 4:50pm at the Fort Lee Memorial Park in New Jersey. There I was picked up by the team, Gary (my older brother, who came especially to help me launch and settle in a rhythm for the first week) and one of my old time Bali friends Joshua (who voluntarily decided to jump onto the project as a Filmmaker and driver of the RV). I hadn’t seen Joshua in over 7 years and was so excited for him to come help me make this project possible. 

For our first night, we had the privilege of being hosted by very dear family friends, Amy and Bill Miller, who live on the water on the Jersey side of the Hudson River. Our first trail angels. They have a breathtaking view of the city, and it gave me a good last opportunity to see the New York skyline before entering mainland America and saying goodbye to the water, which I wouldn’t see until my arrival in LA. For a second, while crossing the GW bridge, the run felt so surreal and now I was offered a bed and great food and it was the first night of this epic journey. 

It wasn’t until early the next morning, when we picked up our RV in Linden, NJ that the adventure really began. With the great help of one of my sister’s contacts, Leonard Schauer from Best Camper, we were very grateful to get a hold of a 26-foot long RV. Not often does someone rent out an RV longer than 2 months, and here we were having never experienced life in an RV and renting it out for 5 months for an adventure of a lifetime.

The first few days were all about finding a routine and feeling out how to best live life on the road. From planning out my routes, to picking up groceries package free, I decided to break up my days into three sections. One section in the early morning where I would run 10 miles, another between noon and 5pm where I would rest, work on run-related things and the third in the late afternoon to run the rest of the mileage for the day and allow ample time for recovery and with the warm summer heat, it allowed me to maximize my energy as best as possible. Rest hours also allow me to take proper time to start planning upcoming events, write updates and work on videos.

The first few days following our stay at the Millers were definitely not as pleasant as we had hoped them to be. I ran on the tight shoulder along highway 46 facing traffic, one of Jersey’s most popular highways and seeing the thousands of cars drive past me at bolting speeds made me quickly reconsider my options and re-route my entire New Jersey path. Luckily, I had my brother Gary there supporting me for this first week and together, we mapped out a much better, calmer, scenic route through New Jersey towns like Morristown and Chester.

Day 6 was the big day, where I crossed the Delaware river, over the Pennsylvania border, into my third state in a week, into Easton. I then hit the big milestone of reaching 100 miles later that day right as I reached my alma matter, Lehigh University in Bethlehem, where I graduated two months prior. A few miles before reaching Lehigh, I was met by a local running group and Tara Zrinsky, a Northampton Councilwoman who is active in the field of environmentalism in the area. Bill Hunter, a close Lehigh connection and the director of fellowship advising for the UN had organized a welcome party as I reached the University Center on Lehigh University’s campus. Around 100 people gathered before the flagpole, waiting for me to arrive with the 8 runners that had joined me for the last few miles of the day. Bill Hunter, along with everyone else who showed up that day push me and motivate me to keep going on a daily basis. The support thus far along this journey has been truly remarkable and I am so excited to get to the next big milestone! 

More soon! “

Gary Bencheghib