Photo credit: raceacrossusa.org
For someone running over 3000 miles across the country, ultrarunner Patrick Sweeney is genuinely happy. His full beard and long, shaggy hair held up in a buff give him the appearance of an Appalachian Trail thru hiker. And it seems like his experience has given him the perspective of one, too.
“I have a general faith in humanity, cars stop all the time [on my run] to help me out,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney is currently running—mostly in Luna sandals—from Huntington Beach, California to Boston, Massachusetts to raise money for the 100 Mile Club. “[The 100 Mile Club] is an organization that encourages kids to run 100 miles during the school year,” he explained. Sweeney has worked with the club in the past, which attempts to fight childhood obesity in the United States by encouraging kids to be active and outside. He joked that he used to be a bit pudgy as a kid, so he has a personal attachment to the cause.
“It’s pretty cool to see [the kids] find joy in running,” he said. The donations Sweeney collects through his kickstarter on his run across America go to the 100 Mile Club to start up programs in inner city schools.
Sweeney’s run across America, which he began in January and expects to complete on May 9th, is only his latest ultrarunning feat. He has competed in many marathons and ultraraces over the years, namely the Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon held in the Copper Canyons in northern Mexico. “I had gone down to Copper Canyons four years in a row,” Sweeney said. He got into these major ultraraces through his late friend, Micah True—nicknamed Caballo Blanco. The way he spoke of True, who was one of the major faces of the ultrarunning community, embodied the community that this sport has created.
“With the Caballo Blanco ultramarathon in particular, you’re there for a like a week…you create these bonds that last a lifetime,” Sweeney said. Despite being a competitive person, whenever he enters an ultrarace, he looks forward to meeting up and running with friends in the community.
Although Sweeney still has to complete the final leg of his cross-country run, he is already thinking about the next race. “There’s a 400 mile race across Tennessee… I want to do it unsupported; I’ve been toying with that idea on my run [across America] now. I want to do it with nothing. I want to raise money to help hungry children or help homeless people. I want to experience not having anything during the race so I can ask people for money for food and see their generosity, if they will also donate to my fundraisers,” Sweeney explained.
Sweeney’s love for ultrarunning and his passion for working to fundraise to fight childhood obesity, hunger and homelessness make him a role model athlete. His journey across America has only solidified these values.
At the end of the day, Sweeney is trying to relish the physical challenge as much as he can. “My last few weeks across the country I really want to focus on enjoying the scenery and taking it all in…I’m also resting, drinking beer and enjoying myself along the way.”