Lowlander tackles the Colorado mountain leg of the 3,100-mile MS Run the US Relay
MS Run the US relay
What: A team of 18 runners tackles 30 miles per day, or roughly 160 miles per person over six days, to complete a 3,100-mile relay from L.A. to New York City, all as a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis awareness and research.
When: Thursday, May 27 from 6 a.m. to noon
Where: Silverthorne to Silver Plume along U.S. Highway 6
If you want to run with Aaron Schneider for his Silverthorne to Silver Plume segment, contact MS Run the US founder Ashley Schneider at 262-894-3645. For more info on Schneider, this year’s run and the foundation, see http://www.msruntheus.com.
Aaron Schneider has already finished two marathons this week. And when he passes through Silverthorne today to wrap up his third, he’ll still have three to go.
Is the torture worth it?
“I’m definitely prepared to battle,” Schneider said before flying from his native Wisconsin to Colorado. “Even if you’re well-trained, you just have to know anything could happen. You can breeze through it, or you can battle something that’s never happened to you, like blisters or ankle issues or anything. But, everyone puts in their mileage.”
Schneider’s trip through Silverthorne comes smack in the middle of a 185-mile journey from Steamboat Springs to Denver. He started in Kremmling around 6 a.m. this morning, and, when he wakes up in the support RV early tomorrow, he’ll lace his shoes and run another 30 miles along U.S. Highway 6 to Silver Plume.
There will be blisters, rain, wind and likely snow — Schneider already pushed through flurries on Rabbit Ears Pass — but he’ll be ready for anything the road and Mother Nature can throw at him. He’s an ultrarunner at heart, the sort of athlete who works a nine-to-five during the week and tackles 50-mile and 100-mile races on the weekend.
But Schneider’s current stretch of torture is a totally new experience. He’s one of 18 runners from across the nation tackling the MS Run the US relay, an annual fundraiser to support multiple sclerosis research. Each runner takes one leg of the 3,100-mile relay, which began in Los Angeles on April 11 and wraps up in New York City on Aug. 15. Along the way, runners pass through Chicago, Pittsburgh and dozens of small towns, picking up locals who want to join for a mile or two or three. It’s part of the relay’s appeal: This is a community event, made just for a cause Schneider says can hide in plain sight.
“Every last runner who comes without a connection to the cause ends in tears. You have people who are very grateful you’re taking time out of your summer to run for them. Sometimes this finds people in a weird way, and, once it does, their hooked.”
Now in its fourth year, the relay was founded by Schneider’s wife, Ashley Schneider. Like her husband, Ashley is a die-hard runner, but she’d never even tempted a marathon until 2010. Her mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1980 before Ashley was born, and she wanted to support MS research through her passion. And so, she decided to run from coast to coast at a clip of 24 miles per day. After six months of running six days per week, she was inspired.
“I’ve been a runner my whole life, but I was really excited about this idea,” Ashley said. “I left my job, moved home to Wisconsin, then started digging into not just training, but forming the nonprofit and getting everything in order to actually run across America.”
Ashley would tackle the Colorado stretch — “I was hell-bent on living here the rest of my life,” she says — but she’s pregnant and expecting in October, so the honor went to her husband. Instead, she’ll make the cross-country journey from the relative comfort of the support car and RV. Besides, she already ran the relay in 2010.
And, she did it alone.
“If any runner is going to complain, I have to tell them tough luck,” Ashley laughed. “But it was a great experience, a life changing experience, and it led to my passion building this nonprofit.”
After four years, the relay alone has raised nearly $525,000, due in large part to the $10,000 each runner needs just to start the relay. The marquee event is now paired with several offshoots, like a 5K on New York’s Roosevelt Island for the Aug. 15 finale.
“The hardest thing is getting to the start line,” Ashley said. “If a runner has done their training, participating in the event is like running club for adults. You have people taking care of you and driving you around and cooking for you. You can even kick your feet up and read a book in the afternoon.”
Aaron’s leg of the relay ends on May 30, when he runs along Colfax Avenue to meet the next runner for a beer at the finish line, The Irish Snug. From there, it’s back to everyday life, but he and Ashley both hope the run — and its impact — lasts well beyond the final few steps.
“You get connected to the community,” Aaron said. “People can come out for the day, quiz a relay runner about what they’re doing. Our route might not go to places like Seattle or elsewhere, but our runners do, and they spread the word.”
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