Hagen Hopkins/Getty Michael Wardian
Move aside Forrest Gump: Michael Wardian, a 48-year-old man from Arlington, Virginia, ran more than 3,200 miles to cross the U.S. in 62 days, finishing on Friday.
Wardian is a former Michigan State lacrosse player who has since turned his athletic focus to running, and ultramarathons in particular. "Starting on May 1st, 2022, I will be running across the entire continental USA, starting in San Francisco, CA, and ending at my home in Rehoboth Beach, DE," Wardian wrote.
"This will be my longest run ever," said Wardian.
The ambitious athlete planned to run primarily along Route 50, with a goal of completing the journey in 75 days or less. Wardian ultimately finished ahead of schedule, arriving at Delaware's Dewey Beach on July 1, 62 days after he departed from San Francisco, California.
A video of Wardian's big finish can be seen on his Instagram account. He celebrated by running through the finish line and straight into the ocean for a swim.
"Every day I'm seeing new things, getting to have new experiences," he told reporter Tom Schad of USA Today on day 59 of his adventure.
"I feel like I was made to do this," Wardian said. "This is my jam, for sure."
According to USA Today, Wardian has previously tackled other monumental runs, including doing seven marathons on seven continents in just seven days. He also once held the world records for fastest marathons on a treadmill and while pushing a stroller.
The outlet reported that Wardian's average time running per day was between 11 and 15 hours. At night, Wardian joined crew chief Eric Belz who drove an RV along the runner's route.
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"It takes a lot of grit and a lot of passion," Belz told USA Today.
The Forrest Gump inspired journey had been on Wardian's bucket list for years, but when he started dealing with health issues — Wardian has what's known as athlete's heart, where the heart is enlarged — the runner knew it was now or never.
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"It was really humbling," Wardian said of his health concerns. "You always think you have more time."
Wardian had the support of his wife, Jennifer and teenage sons on his journey. What's more, Wardian's cross-country trip raised over $107,000 for World Vision's clean water work around the globe, for children and families to have access to clean and safe drinking water.