Have you ever considered running from San Francisco to New York City? Probably not. Well that is exactly what former Saline cross country runner and president of the running club at the University of Alabama, Abby Rentschler is about to take on.
Rentschler will be participating in the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults 4K for Cancer, an event to raise money for young adults who are fighting cancer. This is a 49 day, over 4,500 mile run that starts on June 18 and finishes on Aug. 5. In addition, Rentschler must raise $4,500 that all goes directly to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults to provide service to young adult cancer patients. Check out her fundraising page here.
Rentschler is going to be a part of a 30 person team, “Team New York,” who will attack this mission with everything they’ve got. Each team member runs in two mile shifts for a total of 10-16 miles per day.
“There are three vans that go with us,” Rentschler said. “One carries all of our stuff and then there is two vans that transport runners. Everyone runs two miles and then they hit a checkpoint and switch and it keeps going like that. It’s kind of like a relay.”
Rentschler said she found out about the event when it randomly popped up on her Instagram feed while she was searching for something to do in the summer.
“I saw 4K for Cancer and being a runner I thought a 4K seemed like a weird distance,” Rentschler said. “So I clicked on it and it sent me to the events homepage and it talked about running across the country and volunteering at cancer centers and hospitals and just being a Forrest Gump for the summer, so it just sounded like everything I wanted to be doing.”
“The motto of the event is Run. Inspire. Unite,” Rentschler said. “As soon as I read that statement, it resonated with me.”
Rentschler said the opportunity was something she could just not turn down.
“When else are you going to get the opportunity to run across the country, completely unattached from everything,” Rentschler said. “Most pre-meds do a research internship for the summer, so I thought this would just be a way more meaningful experience.”
The logistics of an event like this are very complicated, Rentschler said. The team won’t spend any time in hotels and instead will stay on the floor of places that will have them, mostly churches. In addition, the team has all of the food donated to them.
“The program coordinator is pretty amazing.” Rentschler said. “I don’t know how she has figured the whole thing out. You just kind of cross your fingers and hope for the best that it works out.”
Some of the planning even falls on the shoulders of the runners.
“I was responsible for tracking down seven host sites,” Rentschler said. “I just cold called a bunch of churches for each city until one of them said we could stay there for the night.”
Rentschler said whenever she told people about what she would be doing that summer, they wanted to get updates throughout the whole thing. This gave her the idea of creating a blog, which would make sharing the trip with everyone easier.
“I have a lot of people who I would have to individually call and let them know what I was up to,” Rentschler said. “I thought this would kind of be the best way to show everybody at one time.”
“I also kind of enjoy writing,” Rentschler said. “As much as I complained about it in high school, after taking these science classes it’s kind of nice to have that ability to be free and express your poetic side. There might be some typos in my blog post from time to time if I get really tired, but I think people will understand.”
Running 10-16 miles a day and having a blog throughout the whole process isn’t the only thing Rentschler will be doing on the trip.
“I’m also going to be applying to med school this summer,” Rentschler said. “I have to be working on applications and essays for that. So, I don’t know, I’m just going to figure it out as I go along, I guess.”
Rentschler said training for the event really hasn’t been all that bad.
“They want you to be putting in miles but I’m not doing 20 miles a day or anything like that,” Rentschler said. “It’s more of just being consistent with your running. We’re going to be running for 49 days and doing 10-16 miles per day, so we’ll basically be training while we’re running, but you still need to have some sort of base.”
Rentschler said she is already preparing for the emotions that will come with finishing the event.
“I can’t even imagine what it is going to feel like finishing,” Rentschler said. “In my mind, I think I could do 10 miles a day, 16 miles a day, no problem. But with everything I am going to be experiencing through this run, once I finish it’s all going to probably just flood in and the realization is going to hit me that it’s just over. I get pretty emotional about things so I’m probably going to be a mess afterwards.”
Don’t expect Rentschler to slow down when the race finishes.
“I have to fly straight back to Alabama because I am a residents assistant,” Rentschler said. “We are starting our housing training, so I think my flight is like three hours after my run so I will probably take a few minutes to celebrate and then it is just onto the next thing.”