Running Career: I have been running competitively for the past 12 years. It started in 7th grade when I joined the cross-country team. Although I was not the top runner (and never have been) I love the sport and the freedom it gives me as I head out the door ready to explore the world. I continued running throughout high-school and college where I joined the cross-country team for the Oneonta State Red Dragons. Since graduating from Oneonta I’ve begun my training for a long distance running career. Over the past year and a half I have completed 2 marathons and 6 ultra-marathons of distances ranging from 31 to 50 miles.
When the three of us met: My friendship with Matt and Ken all stems from our love and passion of running. I first met Matt in the fall of 2003. He was a member of the cross-country team with me at Oneonta. Next came Ken. He transferred to Oneonta that spring and joined the track team. They are two of my best friends and I cannot wait to spend the next four months with them on the road!
What I’m looking forward to the most: The unknown. One of the reasons I love running so much, especially long distances, is not knowing what is around the next corner. How far can I run before I’ve reached someplace that I have never been before? This trip will only magnify that feeling each and every day. Each day I will awake to a new horizon and a new sun. Typically, when you leave the house in the morning for a run, you expect to return to the same place a few hours later. However, for the next four months of my life this won’t hold true. I will travel around and explore this beautiful country with my own two feet, taking it all in as we go.
What I will miss the most: My family and friends. Four months on the road away from everyone is a long time. I will miss having daily conversations with my best friend or calling and seeing how my family is doing. I will especially miss my girlfriend Kaitlyn who has supported and aided me in this experience from day one. Without her support and the support of my family I do not think this adventure would be possible. For that I am forever thankful and grateful.
Why are you doing this run: Originally the idea to attempt such a run was for personal reasons of adventure and freedom. What better way to spend four months of your life than with two of your best friends on the open road? However, with life there is always change. You never know what is around the next corner or what is going to happen next. For that reason alone you must follow your dreams and live each day as if it were your last. This has been a dream of mine for more than three years and it is something that I now must do.
Running Career: I started running in 6th grade so I could be more like my dad and my older brother. I ran competitively from 7th grade all through high school and college. For the past couple of years my training focus has been geared towards middle distance events (1,000m, mile, steeple chase) so switching it up to ultra-marathon type training has been a big step for me.
Name: Matthew Durkin
Born: December 28, 1984
Hometown: East Greenbush, New York
Parents: David & Sue
Siblings: Mike & Tim
High School: Columbia (2003)
College: SUNY Oneonta (2007)
Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications
University of Redlands (2011)
Master of Arts in Higher Education
Hometown: Vidalia, GA
Background: On day five of our adventure, Ken found this small orange dinosaur on the side of the road. He named him Natie (Nae-chie). From this point forward, Natie was a part of our group and a member of the run making it all the way to the Pacific Ocean, 111 days later.
Running Career: I have been running competitively for 10 years now. I ran under my cross country coach and life mentor Dennis Barrett at Columbia High School. He taught me the basics of running and commitment to my goals. I then moved to collegiate athletics and ran cross country and track & field for Oneonta State. It was here that I learned to appreciate the true sport of running. I have gained such admiration to those who dedicate their lives to sports. It takes so much self sacrifice to be committed to a sport you call your own. Running is my passion and will be for life.
When the three of us met: All of my running mates in this journey are my best friends in the entire world. Matt Durkin has been my best friend since the 5th grade. We have been through everything together. I met Andy Wahila my freshman year of college and our friendship has developed into one of the greatest friendships I have on this planet. To follow my dream of running across the nation with two of my closest friends is something extra special. The next four months will be a life changing experience. I can't even imagine the smiles, the laughs and the memories that will be made. It is surely something I will never forget.
What I’m looking forward to the most: I am looking forward to all of the people I will meet along the way. I can't even imagine all the stories we'll hear from them, the generosity we will experience and the friendships we will make during our run. I have made it a point to expect the unexpected.
What I will miss the most: I will undoubtedly miss all of my friends and family the most. They have slowly begun to support my dream and I will do my best to stay connected with all of them through web updates, phone calls and perhaps postcards from random points along our trip. I will also be missing a family reunion in Hawaii. My grandparents, along with a handful of other people, have called me crazy for wanting to run across the country but to them I just smile and keep chugging along. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pursue such a unique dream and I'll be damned if I don't seize this chance and just live it all out! Four months of living the dream baby!
Why are you doing this run: Our dream is and always has been to run together across this great Nation of ours. It is not merely an idea anymore, it has become reality. Three years in the making have finally come true.
Name: Andrew Wahila
Born: April 16, 1984
Hometown: Endicott, New York
Parents: Michael & Lisa
Siblings: Mike & Jim
High School: Union Endicott (2002)
College: SUNY Oneonta (2006)
Bachelor of Science in Business Economics
Ithaca College (2007)
Master of Science in Sport Management
When the three of us met: Ken and I met in 5th grade when we accidentally got on the wrong school bus together. I met Andy in college through a shared interest in running and super Nintendo.
What I’m looking forward to the most: Excitement and adventure aside, I’m looking forward to the jokes. Each of us has a unique sense of humor that should help keep a positive attitude on even the toughest days.
What I will miss the most: Zonies (a $6 calzone pizza place in Oneonta, New York)
Why are you doing this run: This has nothing to do with Forrest Gump, getting away from something or saving the world. This is about adventure, friendship and living the dream.
Name: Ken Stannard
Born: December 4, 1984
Hometown: East Greenbush, New York
Parents: Ronald Stannard, Kim Stannard (deceased) & Margaret Dacey
Siblings: Michelle Stannard, Margaret Siciliano,
& Colleen Dacey
High School: Columbia (2003)
College: Lesley University (2016)
Bachelor of Arts In Education