Joel Reichenberger: Run across US worth tracking |

Joel Reichenberger: Run across US worth tracking

— Cross-country fundraising adventures seem to hit Steamboat Springs like clockwork. Every summer, Joe or Jane Coast-to-Coast comes through town attempting to run, ride, skip, pogo stick or cartwheel across the country.

Many of the stories are cool, but the various treks are so common, so similar and, at times, so unorganized, locals often meet them with a yawn.

Marshall Ulrich, who passed through town Wednesday evening in an attempt to run across the county, was one of the cool stories.

Ulrich was running to raise money for United Way and to beat the current coast-to-coast running record. It all was being filmed for the documentary “Running America,” which producers hope to have in theaters next year.

In Ulrich, they’ll have a worthy star.

Steamboat is home to plenty of people I consider half-crazy – 24-hour bike riders, ultra-marathon runners, Himalayan mountain climbers and restaurateurs who charge $15 for a simple lunch. Ulrich would fit in nicely, the lunch comment withheld, and indeed, the Idaho Springs resident doesn’t live far away.

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What goes through one’s mind while he’s running from one coast to another?

“I take an hour nap in the afternoon and sleep four hours at night. That’s all I shoot for,” he said. “The sleeping is the best part, and I fill the rest in with 60 or 70 miles of running. I eat on the road while running, do everything while running.”

Ulrich got his four hours of sleep Wednesday night near the top of Buffalo Pass, then he took off with the sun. He cut up through Walden in the morning and was on his way toward Poudre Canyon by the time the sun set Thursday.

No doubt, clearing that mountain range kept him focused.

“I love altitude, and I love climbing, but I think I’ll be able to up my mileage when I get out to the Great Plains,” he said. “The first couple of weeks were pretty intense. You couldn’t sleep because everything was throbbing and aching. Your bones hurt and your joints hurt.

Frank Giannino set the trans-continental running record in 1980, crossing from San Francisco to New York in 46 days, 8 hours, 36 minutes. Ulrich started his trek Sept. 13 with a teammate, but injuries forced Charlie Engle to switch to a bike in Steamboat this week.

Ulrich figured he still was roughly on pace as he passed through Steamboat.

There hasn’t been a second it’s been easy, however.

“It goes up and down,” he said, walking through downtown as daylight faded behind Emerald Mountain. “When you’re in the middle of the desert, and it’s 100 degrees, everything is aching and you’re tired. … There’s nothing more miserable. Then when you come into a valley like this, and clouds were hanging down there and the sky was all lit up, there’s nothing better than that.”