Paul Staso’s Run Across America. Russell Elementary School Students in Missoula, Montana are ahead of pace in their "Run/Walk Across America" fitness challenge


I was speaking with a good friend this morning and quickly realized that he did not know many details about my upcoming run across the United States, which is scheduled to beging on June 23 (less than 3 months from today). As I explained to him various details about the trek, it became apparent to me that I should begin sending out a periodic update on the preparation as the run gets closer. In this message I will include some basic information so that you’ll be on pace with what’s happening.

What is this all about? (

In June 2005 my 11-year-old daughter, Ashlin, and I came up with a curriculum idea for the 4th and 5th grade students at Russell Elementary School in Missoula, Montana, where my wife, Vicki, is the P.E. teacher. The curriculum is called "Run/Walk Across America" and the goal of the program is to increase kids’ fitness. Essentially, the 4th and 5th graders are virtually running and walking across the entire continental United States during this school year (September 7, 2005 through June 9, 2006). Weekly individual distances are calculated and totaled to advance each class forward on a predetermined 3,200-mile route across America.

The entire project can be seen online at Currently, the 5th grade students are 3 1/2 weeks ahead of schedule to complete the trek by the end of the school year, and the 4th grade students are very close to being on pace. Our research has shown that no individual class has ever successfully completed a virtual trek across the entire United States during a single school year. On the first day of the journey I challenged the students that if either class could successfully accomplish the trek then I would actually run their 15-state route during the summer of 2006 – providing details of my journey through a web site at (which is now online with various details). The students have persevered and are determined to complete the trek. I have been training since last year in anticipation of their successful completion of the virtual trek and my potential attempt at an actual run across America. It appears that there is no doubt that I will be running across the United States this summer.

The curriculum has gained the attention of educators across the country and certain publications (including Runner’s World magazine online and, as well as generating personal letters of support from the Governors of Montana, Iowa and Arkansas. U.S. Senator Conrad Burns and U.S. Senator Max Baucus have both written letters of encouragement to us (see those at, and we have received letters from all over the world (U.S., Australia, Europe and Africa).

We’ve also received letters of support from Missoula’s major, John Engen, and Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Linda McCulloch. The run/walk program also attracted the attention of some U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq who started running with the children (visit

Some newspapers around Montana have written articles about our project during the course of the school year and earlier this year my wife and I were interviewed on the "Montana Today" television program and also Channel 8 news in Missoula. The curriculum, and my pending trek, are gaining greater attention each week.

What started out as a curriculum idea to impact the lives of 94 students in the 4th and 5th grades at Russell Elementary has blossomed into a project that has impacted the lives of people around the country. I know of at least 8 other elementary schools that have started a similar curriculum due to being inspired by our program. What was initially designed to impact the lives of 94 kids now involves over 3,000 elementary students in states such as Oregon, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Minnesota and Delaware. Here’s just a few comments we’ve received:

* What a great inspiration you are for kids and adults around the world! – Dr. Cynthia Holland, Newberry, FL

* You are even motivating me to get off my couch and get physical. – Scott Rossmiller, Detroit, MI

* All of us here in Australia are cheering you on to your goal. What an inspiration. – Cheryl Gates, Victoria, Australia

* This is a very worthwhile thing and excellent for your health! – Thomas Eagan, Charlotte, NC

* We are pulling for you here in South Carolina! – Doretha Daniels, Blythewood, SC

* Good luck to all of you brave souls/soles! – Barbara Bomes, Los Angeles, CA

* I truly admire your courage and determination to take on a task as large as this! – Doug Burreson, Missoula, MT

* Amazing, interesting & challenging endeavor. You are truly pioneers!! – Mel Opstad, Big Lake, MN

* Thank you for what you are doing in the lives of children. – Jeanne Bensch, Branson, MO

* Your dedication/energy to complete this trek shows what’s great about this country’s youth. – Michael Dolan, CA

* Congratulations from Napanee, Ontario, Canada! What a neat idea! – The Deloughery Family, Ontario, Canada

* This is a really good way to combine physical fitness with a goal – Eric Hefty, Missoula, MT

* Wow! What amazing kids you are! As a runner and a mom you have inspired me. – Sharon Schaifo, Red Hook, NY

* You’re an inspiration and I hope you’ll continue physical activity long past this year! – Katrina Mullen, OH

* This is something you’ll look back on with wonderful memories and a sense of pride. – Stacey Rossmiller, Missoula, MT

* I’m impressed by the challenge you’ve undertaken in virtually running across America. – Senator Conrad Burns

* I understand that a lot of hard work has gotten you to this point, and I wish you the best… – Senator Max Baucus

* It’s great that you have set a goal and are reaching for it with all you have. – Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

* You’ll all be winners at the end of this! God bless you and keep running/walking. – Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

* I admire your determination to combine fitness with your goal to run/walk 3,200 miles. – Missoula Mayor John Engen

* Combining the great physical exercise with [learning] is truly inspired teaching. – Linda McCulloch, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction

Want to read many more letters we’ve received? Just visit:

Want to send your own note of encouragement? Just visit:

Want to help the students? Just visit:

P.A.C.E. Run 2006 – Paul’s Trek Across America (

The acronym "P.A.C.E." stands for "Promoting Active Children Everywhere". On June 23, 2006 I will embark on a 3,200 mile, 15-state journey on foot. This will be a solo run of 35 miles per day for 92 days. It begins at Cannon Beach, Oregon and ends at Cape Henlopen near Lewes, Delaware. I will push all of my required gear in an Ironman Sport Utility Stroller, which has been donated by Bob Trailers, Inc. (

My goal with P.A.C.E. Run 2006 is to successfully complete an educational trek to increase awareness in children about the importance of fitness and nutrition, and to encourage schools across America to begin a similar curriculum as the virtual Run/Walk Across America challenge that the 4th and 5th grade students at Russell Elementary had an opportunity to do during the 2005-2006 school year. I will be spending evenings in the homes of teachers and coaches, as well as hotels and campgrounds. My family will see me twice during the journey, on July 11th and 12th when I am passing through Missoula, and again during August 18-20 when I am going through Rochester, Minnesota (they will be there to attend a wedding). For those of you who do not know, I have been married to Vicki for nearly 19 years and have four children: Jenna (age 13), Ashlin (age 11), Kyler (age 8) and Brian (age 6). Missoula, Montana has been my home since 1984 and my profession is web design and Internet marketing for OnTrack Designs, although I have been a 5th grade teacher and a high school track and field coach. Also for those of you who do not know… I attempted a run across America in 1986 at the age of 21. You can learn more about that at

I could go into extensive detail about how my solo trek across America is set up. However, it would be easier for you to simply visit Updated regularly is the "Journal" page, which I posted some interesting information to yesterday. In short, the stroller I will push across America will have everything I need. I will have as much as 1 1/2 gallons of water at any given time, a portable solar panel for charging my electronic gadgets (cell phone, GPS, digital camera, etc.), a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, some food, and more – all specifically selected lightweight gear. The P.A.C.E. Run web site will be updated regularly (nearly daily) by a friend in Portland, Oregon who will be receiving my journal text and picture information. The complete route is available at by clicking on the "Route" link. If you know someone who lives in one of my stopping points where I do not yet have lodging secured, please forward this message to them. I would truly appreciate it.

Financial donations have been near nonexistent so far for the P.A.C.E. Run 2006 endeavor. All of the gear I have acquired to date (aside from the stroller) has come from my own bank account. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated and all donors will be listed on the PACE Run web site. The budget of this trek is $8,000.00, and I am committed to go. I gave the children my word that I would embark on this journey if they succeeded, and I won’t go back on my word to them. Even if I only have $10 in my pocket on day one of the trek… I am still going. If you support what I’m trying to accomplish, please consider making a donation. The Russell Elementary School PTA has set up a bank account for the run and checks are being accepted at: P.A.C.E. Run 2006, P.O. Box 3404, Missoula, Montana 59806. You can also donate online at

Please pass this e-mail message to others you know… family, friends, co-workers, teachers, anyone! The more that people know about the trek, the better!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the curriculum and my pending trek. Lives are being changed, and my heart swells to think that all of this started nearly a year ago because of a bedtime discussion between my 11-year-old daughter and I. I want to leave you with the words of a parent who has seen firsthand the change the Run/Walk Across America program has had in her child:

"I was just browsing the website ( and wanted to say "thanks" for everything you’re doing. I know the time and effort involved in this is amazing and probably at times feels rather thankless, but please know that at least one parent out there thinks what you are doing is absolutely awesome! The change in my child’s activity level since this started has been wonderful for me to see, and I know that is the main goal of this whole thing."

Gotta Run!



Paul Staso

P.A.C.E. Run 2006


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