The saying goes that even a journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step.
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Paul Staso, a 1983 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate and Internet marketing specialist in Missoula, Mont., has already eclipsed the amount of miles used as hyperbole in the proverb.
With gusto, endurance and the fourth- and fifth-grade classes at Russell Elementary in Missoula behind him, the 41-year-old hopes to run until there isn't anymore continent. His goal is 3,200 miles, from Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Ore., to Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Del.
When Staso completes his journey, he may be the first person to run across the continental United States to settle a bet.
He wagered with the students at Russell Elementary, where his wife, Vicki, teaches physical education, that if they ran the equivalent of 3,200 miles during the 2005-06 school year, then he'd do it for real.
The wager helped the kids get fit in Missoula, but also meant that Staso is now in Day 66 of his journey as he enters Minnesota.
He is just over halfway his goal now. As of Sunday, he had just finished running through the Dakotas. Today is Day 66 of his journey.
He's also kept a running log of his travels on his Web site, www.pacerun.com.
"I have now completed the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota," Staso said on his online journal. "Whew! I'm beyond the half-way point and am nearing the 1,700-mile mark. I feel pretty good at this point. The reason I say 'pretty good' is because I'm a bit tired. In the past 36 hours I've run 81 miles - which is more than three marathons."
He plans to touch down in lower Delaware in late September.
Along his journey, he's pushing a 20-pound stroller that carries essentials, such as water, a tent, shoes and clothing. It is also equipped with a solar panel to power his global positioning system, phone and iPod.
Staso's name shouldn't be unfamiliar to folks in Juneau. He graduated from JDHS in 1983, and was a member of the track and field team from 1980-1983.
During his Crimson Bears track days, Staso held a number of Region V records and was a regional champ in the 110-meter high hurdles.
He was also a torch bearer for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
For more on on Paul Staso's journey, check out www.pacerun.com. Also, see www.seeusrun.com for the Russell Elementary school runners.
This isn't the first time Staso has tried to run across the country. In 1986, he attempted to break the record for a U.S. crossing with a 46-day jaunt from San Francisco to New York City. In the attempt, billed as "Trans-America '86," Staso received sponsorships from Timex, Gatorade and a laundry list of other corporations.
Thirty-six miles into his adventure, however, a ligament injury forced Staso to end his quest.
People can follow along with Staso's journey on his Web site. In addition to journal entries, there are photos and videos of his journey, along with biographical information and a detailed history of people who tried to run across the country.
The curriculum and story of the Russell Elementary runners achievement is on www.seeusrun.com.
"The kids succeeded, and it is my hope that I will also," Staso wrote on his Web site. "I also hope to be able to share our virtual trek curriculum (www.seeusrun.com) with teachers across the United States. Perhaps other schools will also take the challenge and run with it."
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