Ultra runner Lisa Smith Batchen is raising millions of dollars for AIDS orphans by running 50 miles in each of the 50 states in less than two months, and she’ll run the Wisconsin leg of her quest on May 28 at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Whether it’s 50 miles, or just a few, she invites company. Runners are encouraged to sign up in advance at www.runhope.com. Donations for “Run Hope Through America” are accepted electronically or through mail, both of which can be found via the Run Hope Through America website.
Smith Batchen, who is one of the world’s premier distance runners, is attempting to be the first person to run an “ultra” in each of the 50 states in such a short amount of time. Two people have previously run a marathon distance in each state, but a marathon is “only” 26.5 miles.
She will kick off at 5:30 a.m. on May 28, from the Lambeau Cottage and then run 10 loops of the 4.9 mile Cofrin Arboretum Trail. The Wisconsin leg will be miles 1,600 – 1,650 of her quest.
Smith Batchen is an ultra marathon runner who has been featured in The New York Times and the Runner’s World and on ESPN and “Good Morning America.” This run is her personal journey at a world record and opportunity to raise money for AIDS orphans in the United States and around the world. So far she has raised about $3 million for AIDS orphans — children with parentless households — through ultra events. As stated on her website, it’s “One American, running 50 miles in each of the 50 states, within two months, for four organizations to help millions of children.”
A small support crew, along with her good friend and running partner, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd (“The Running Nun”), will accompany Smith Batchen in each state.
She and her crew typically run four straight days in four different states, then give themselves a day of rest before visiting the next four states. Organizers say, “Be prepared.”
Smith Batchen consumes about 5,000 calories per day.
She began her journey on April 19 in Morristown, New Jersey, and will conclude the race in her hometown, Victor, Idaho in mid-July.
No stranger to challenges, Smith Batchen’s very first ultra marathon was in 1995 at the legendary Badwater Ultramarathon, finishing second in the women’s division. Two years later she set the women’s record for the Badwater, completing the 125-mile run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in 37 hours, 1 minute.
Eleven years after her Badwater debut, she decided to double the race. She is one of the few females to have run the “Badwater Double” also known as the “Death Valley 300.” Her 2006 Badwater Double raised $294,000 for AIDS Orphans Rising.
In 2002, she was one of two ultra marathoners invited by Pope John Paul II to visit the Vatican so he could thank them personally for their work helping the charity.
Some members of the UW-Green Bay family have already volunteered to help Smith Batchen. Controller Kelly Franz, public safety director Randy Christopherson and cross-country coach Mike Kline are among those helping with the event.
Also, Cellcom Green Bay Marathon director Sean Ryan and a crew of volunteers are helping with on-site management. Joe Simon, Simon Insurance & Investments Services, Inc., Green Bay, is the local liaison to the runners and their team.
Simon met Smith Batchen when she signed up for his “Great2Greatest” achievement program and the two have been friends, since.
“About a year ago she talked about doing this run,” Simon said. “She kept talking and by last October was determined to do it. Really the focus is to raise awareness and dollars for children orphans born with aids. It’s a big part of her heart. Her friend and running partner, Sister Mary Beth, also has a charity, AIDS OrphansRising.com. The two have worked closely together the past eight years. She’s the Mother Theresa of Africa, single-handedly starting three orphanages for these kids.”
An interesting side note, Sister Mary Beth belongs to the Religious Teachers Filippini, an order dedicated to education that requires members to wear no other clothes than a habit. So when she runs alongside Smith Batchen, she’ll be wearing a black wool tunic over a white shirt and underskirt, black headpiece and black woolen belt. And running shoes. On a typical day it will take Smith Batchen about 12 hours to complete the 50 miles, while Sister Mary Beth is walking about 20 miles.
For more information about this event contact Joe Simon at: Jsimon@simonedge.com.
Story by Paul Mee