Editor’s Note: This story was published last week.
By Jesse Wood
In less than four days, Ray Russell, founder of RaysWeather.com, will embark on an epic adventure. He is attempting to run across the entire length of the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway.
Next week, Russell begins the four-week journey at mile marker 0 near Waynesboro, Va. He will then attempt to run 20 miles a day for the next four weeks until he arrives at the southern end of the parkway in Cherokee in mid June.
Although Russell is an avid runner with an ongoing bucket list to complete the six major marathons (Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin, and Tokyo), the upcoming effort amounts to running three-quarters of a marathon every day for four-weeks straight. Running across the Blue Ridge Parkway in consecutive days is something that – to Russell’s knowledge – only one other person (Don Lister) has done.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am, but I am apprehensive about it. It is a tremendous physical challenge,” Russell said. “[This] is the craziest thing I have ever thought of doing – seriously.”
The Relay With Ray challenge came about as Russell was learning of the numerous activities associated with the centennial year of the National Park Service, such as the 100-hikes initiative along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This year instead of running another marathon, he focused on training for this feat.
While this is a personal challenge for Ray and the others that will join him on the run, this project is also a promotion and celebration of the Blue Ridge Parkway during the centennial and a fundraiser and outreach for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Russell said he expects to run, jog and walk the 20 miles or so in about three to four hours, which will allow time to document the trip each day. A self-described “running encyclopedia” on Blue Ridge Parkway history, Russell will include historical stories or events related to each section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
As Russell wrote in a blog for this challenge, he plans to “explore and celebrate every twist, turn, nook, and cranny of the Blue Ridge Parkway and document it with photos, videos, blog posts, and on social media.
Good luck Ray!
Below are some photos of Ray on the run along the Blue Ridge Parkway, through the Town of Boone and the App State campus.