If you want an informed opinion on the state of trail running in America, you go to someone who has spent a lot of time on them. That would be Michael Wardian, who has garnered a well-earned following for his long distance running accomplishments. Two items that stand out are the completion of all six World Marathon Majors in a single year, along with the World Marathon Challenge of seven marathons on seven continents in seven days — where he averaged two hours, 45 minutes for the seven races.
Apparently that challenge wasn’t enough, so this spring Wardian decided he would do a cross-country run — literally running clear across the country. His home is near the eastern end of U.S. Route 50, so tracing along this route, from San Francisco, CA, to Rehoboth Beach, DE, gave the effort a name: the Running Home Project. A good part of the logistics of an undertaking like this is to make sure he was supplied with the necessities, especially water, and his goal for the run was a successful fundraising effort on behalf of World Vision USA to provide safe drinking water projects to communities in need.
Running Insight caught up with Wardien on a rare day off of the trail and road to gather some insight into running across the country.
Running Insight: Your “little” trek across the USA was the ultimate trail run. How did you find the experience?
MRW: I loved the experience, it was everything I hoped it would be and a dream come true.
Running Insight: What motivated you to run across the country?
MRW: It was to fulfill a dream, but also to raise money for charity. The goal was to raise $100,000 for clean water projects for World Vision USA and so far we have raised over $115,000 and changed over 2200 people’s lives. So cool.
Running Insight: Which trail systems along your route impressed you?
MRW: I was really impressed with the Katy Trail in Missouri. It was beautiful, shaded and flat, all of which were appreciated. Of course, I loved the W&OD Trail in the Washington, DC area — that is one of my favorites and I live on it.
Running Insight: Your posts from the trail and road showed some impressive trail terrain. What were your favorites?
MRW: I loved a lot of the route that was on Route 50. Colorado and the mountains of California were spectacular, too, as was running through Virginia and Delaware. I love those states.
Running Insight: What are your favorite trail running experiences?
MRW: I have enjoyed a lot of time on trails and some of my favorites are the Na Pali Coast Trail in Kauai, the Israel National Trail in Israel, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in France, all the trails in Shenandoah National Park and the Billy Goat and Potomac Heritage trails in Washington, DC area.
Running Insight: What are your essential trail gear items?
MRW: I think great trails shoes are really helpful and also a hydration vest, I used Hoka for shoes and Nathan for hydration.
Running Insight: Do your observations in trail performance find their way into trail running products?
MRW: I definitely make suggestions and sometimes companies will incorporate them.
Running Insight: How do you help make it happen with brands and product designers/developers?
MRW: I try to work with brands to provide feedback and guidance as to what works for me and what I think could be tweaked.
Running Insight: Do you connect with local running stores in various places?
MRW: I definitely love to see and run with local running stores, I work with so many, but my local ones are Potomac River Running and Pacers Running.
Running Insight: Who are your trail go-to retailers in your area? You know, for trail extras.
MRW: I usually go to REI as I like them, I am a member and they have great selection
Running Insight: Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to thank everyone for their interest and support and I will see you out there.