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A Must-Read Story about Motivation, Inspiration, and Girls on the Run

January 20, 2010

Katie Visco is the youngest female to ever run across the U.S.

Ever wanted to accomplish a big running goal like a 10K or half-marathon? How about a run across the United States?? That’s what Katie Visco just did, and raised $11,000 for Girls on the Run along the way.

From today’s Chicago Tribune:

9 months, 2 coasts, 1 determined runner

Glen Ellyn native Katie Visco runs from Boston to San Diego

By Bob Goldsborough, Special to the Tribune

After nine months on the road, burning through nine pairs of Puma running shoes and logging 3,132 miles in 17 states, Glen Ellyn native Katie Visco recently completed her goal of running across the United States.

And despite some obstacles — most notably a knee injury in California forcing her to walk much of the way across the Golden State — the former Glenbard West High School cross country runner did run the final 1.5-mile leg of her journey into the Pacific Ocean in San Diego on Dec. 29, cheered by about 30 family members and friends.

“The first thing I thought about in the ocean with the water going through my toes is that this is real, and that anything in the world is possible,” said Visco, 24. “It was just so personal running in. I spent several minutes in the ocean crying and just soaking it up. I wasn’t thinking about much besides I did it, and everything in the world is possible. It was just beautiful.”

Visco’s trek, which began in Boston in late March, was not some vision quest done in solitude, nor merely a personal goal. Always trailed by one person driving her family’s supply-filled 1993 Ford van, which she affectionately calls “The Big Red Boat,” Visco used her journey to raise $11,000 for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit group that educates preteen girls about the health benefits of running and encourages them to develop self-respect through the sport.

While pursuing her goal, she also gained a deeper understanding of the country’s natural beauty, particularly out West. Visco ran diagonally across Kansas — a 450-mile, monthlong journey that gave her an appreciation for the state’s panoramas, sunrises and sunflowers.

“It sounds corny and trite, but people stay in Kansas because of the sunrises,” she said. “It is just so beautiful.”

Although one night a week, Visco and a traveling companion — alternately her mother, her father or her close friends Ellen Klemme and Jenny Sadler — would stay in a hotel room, she said she was humbled by the kindness of people along the route who offered free lodging.

“I really saw humanity at its finest,” she said. “Since what I’ve seen has been so beautiful — and a lot of us don’t really believe that people are so beautiful — what I can do is to share that story and challenge people to make an effort to extend a helping hand to others.”

Local running clubs and high school track teams often joined Visco, running alongside her as she ran 18 to 20 miles a day for six days a week for much of the trek. She even ran with girls from some local Girls on the Run chapters, and said she donated some of the $11,000 she raised to the chapters that she met with along the way.

Katie with some Girls on the Run girls she met along her way

“I’m really excited about the money I raised, because these chapters are really going to benefit from these funds,” she said. “Anything counts. And I know the girls who will get help, because I donated some money to the very special Girls on the Run chapters I met in person and visited.”

Katy Brown, Girls on the Run’s vice president of partnerships and development, said the Charlotte, N.C.-based group, which serves 50,000 preteen girls, was thrilled that Visco completed her trek and “flattered” that she chose Girls on the Run as her beneficiary.

“We know that Katie has specific geographic areas in mind that she’d like that money to benefit, so we are looking forward to receiving that support and are very grateful for it,” Brown said.

Over the next five months, Visco plans to visit schools and running clubs, sharing her story and thanking those who came out and supported her run during 2009.

Visco also said after a couple of weeks of rest, she feels “fantastic” and is ready to start running again. Her long-term goal is to run across every continent.

One Comment leave one →
  1. LAVITSA permalink
    January 21, 2010 5:45 am


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