A record 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes is the time it took Boston College graduate Joe McConaughy to conquer the 2,663 mile Pacific Crest Trail, a statistic he shared Monday night during a WeRunBC event.
McConaughy, a former mile runner for BC, loved running and camping growing up. Upon graduating from BC in 2014 with time on his hands, the alumnus was looking to combine his two passions and embark on some type of endeavor. He also wanted to use his platform and abilities to do something bigger than himself, and use his journey to make an impact.
Thus, McConaughy decided to run for his cousin Colin, who passed away at the age of two from neuroblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He dedicated his run, The Run for Colin, towards raising money for pediatric cancer. McConaughy didn’t embark on this trek alone; in addition to rallying a large support system for fundraising money, McConaughy was also accompanied by three close friends during his journey.
His dubbed crew followed him the entire 53 day trip, mapping out and monitoring his mileage each day and providing him with food at checkpoints daily.
When researching potential undertakings for his excursion, the expansive Pacific Crest Trail immediately came to mind having come from California. After speaking with several other accomplishers of the Trail, McConaughy was sold and his fate was settled to start the trail in June 2014.
The Pacific Crest Trail starts in the desert in Campo, California, just 15 feet from the Mexican border. A mix of straight up and down terrain, the trail spans over 2,600 miles, ending just north of the U.S./Canada border amid mountains on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia.
In order to surpass the previous record completion held at 60 days, McConaughy averaged 50 miles, or about two marathons, daily. A previous mile runner for BC, McConaughy was forced to transition to distance in the training leading up to his quest. He found himself running back to back 40-milers in the heaviest practice he did before the start of his run.
Even with training, McConaughy still attributes most of his success to his prevailing optimism and positivity throughout his expedition. He faced setbacks such as severe muscle cramps, two-hour night sleeps, and even getting lost for over 51 hours without adequate resources, but McConaughy allowed nothing to deter him from his mission.
During tough times, he grounded himself by remembering: Colin, how gifted he was to be able to embark on his journey, and how eager he was to honor his cousin’s name.
At the end of his run, McConaughy not only destroyed the previous record held for the completion of the Pacific Crest Trail by nearly a week, but he also preserved his cousin’s name, raising $32,000 for pediatric cancer.
McConaughy does not foresee another strenuous endeavor like defeating the Trail in his future, however, he does aspire to run The Appalachian Trail in 2017.
McConaughy’s crew filmed his entire trek day-to-day and created a moving documentary, “The Run for Colin,” which can be watched for free on the Facebook page Run For Colin.
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