Thousands of people from across the country are planning to fly, drive or take the train to Washington for Inauguration Day. But one man is using an alternate form of transportation to make it to the festivities — he’s traveling the 700 miles from Maine to D.C. on foot.
Gary Allen, 56, is on an ambitious solo journey, running through nine states in just two weeks in hopes of reaching the U.S. Capitol by Monday while raising money for three charities.
He began running at dawn on Jan. 7, setting off from the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park, wearing snowshoes to navigate through the snow.
He has averaged 40 to 50 miles a day, according to his Web site, running from sunrise to sunset. Allen, a veteran distance runner who has completed nearly 100 marathons, doesn’t have a road crew; he has relied on support from his brother, Larry, as well as friends and friendly strangers.
Many people have offered coffee, food, a sofa to sleep on and even massages. Other runners have joined him for stretches of the route, keeping Allen company on the road.
Thursday morning, 10 days into his journey, Allen tweeted that he had arrived in New Jersey. Before dawn on Friday Allen posted on his Facebook page, “Philly get ready cause I am heading your way!” His followers encouraged him to stop for a cheesesteak.
Much of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland still stands between him and D.C.
“I don’t know that I can do this,” Allen, the director of the MDI Marathon who also works as a running coach and motivational speaker, said in a statement.
“But I don’t know that I can’t do it. So I’m just going to keep on running.”
While his goal is to make it to Washington by Monday in time for President Obama’s second inauguration, Allen says his main objective is to raise money and awareness for three causes that are close to his heart.
People can make donations directly to the Wounded Warrior Project, the American Cancer Society, and the victims of last month’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Crowdrise, an online fundraising Web site, is managing the donations.
“Listen, what I’m doing is not that big of a deal compared to what our wounded veterans are going through, or the challenges faced by cancer patients, or the tough road ahead for those young kids traumatized by what happened in their school to their friends and teachers,” Allen said. “Every day their example teaches all of us that we can do a little bit more than we think we can do.”