Runner Takes On Record-Breaking Mission For Mom

Former Yale track star Sam Fox is trying to break the record for running the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Canada to Mexico. But, as Dave Iverson from member station KQED in San Francisco reports, this long distance challenge is about more than just the record books.

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

A former Yale track star is trying to break the record for running the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail - all the way from Canada to Mexico.

But as Dave Iverson, of member station KQED in San Francisco, reports, this long-distance challenge is about more than just making the record books.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

DAVE IVERSON: Sam Fox is running 2,650 miles.

SAM FOX: My goal is to complete the entire trail in 60 days or less.

IVERSON: That's 44 miles a day, a feat that required some unusual training.

FOX: Doing extended periods of time sleeping on rocks; extended hours not drinking enough water, but still having to get from point A to point B.

IVERSON: So have you practiced sleeping on rocks, practiced not having enough water?

FOX: Yeah, I mean, I like doing that stuff. Sometimes your water bottle cracks and you're out of clean water. And then you fill it up a water bottle and you see worms in it, and you decide not to drink it. So you go another 18 hours, and another 20 miles, without any water.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LUCY FOX: I thought it was absolutely nuts when I first heard about it.

IVERSON: That's Lucy Fox, Sam's mother.

To do what Sam is doing you need motivation. Breaking a record provides one sort; your mom provides another. Ten years ago, Lucy Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. And the attitude she's adopted since got Sam thinking about taking on this run.

FOX: She's tough. My Mom is not Parkinson's disease. So in truth, this isn't about her illness. It's more about what she's taught me.

IVERSON: Sam's run, then, is about taking on challenges in life and on the trail. And he has another goal - to raise a quarter of a million dollars for Parkinson's research.

FOX: I didn't start this and expect to get emails and phone calls saying wow, thank you so much; this is inspiring. And I really - I honestly didn't expect that.

IVERSON: But he got it, from friends and strangers who are showing up to cheer him on and contribute to his cause. And come late October, when Sam finishes his 2,650-mile journey, his mom, Lucy, will be there, too, to greet him.

FOX: And what I'll say to him, probably, is something like, well, how are your feet?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

IVERSON: Spoken like a mom.

FOX: I guess that's really what I am.

FOX: I'm sure my mom would probably appreciate a letter and a hug more than, you know, me putting myself at risk out on a dangerous and remote trail. But this is what she's getting.

IVERSON: It's not the normal thank-you note a son writes to his mom. This thank you includes sore feet, and a check to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

For NPR News, I'm Dave Iverson.

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