Comment From Brian Stark

Hereunder is the comment from Brian Stark, the Ultra Trail Runner Across America, from my post about his book and experience in running along the trails across America:

Dear Jovie,

Thank you so much for your kind words and promotion of my story. Many times during that run and even still today, I feel that I was just a messenger for hundreds of strangers to connect and the message is still being delivered today, thanks to you.

Best Wishes and Many Happy Runs,

Brian Stark

The message of Brian Stark is very clear. If you want to endeavor yourself to an event which is worth being known by others and if it is an extraordinary feat for an ordinary individual, you have to document it so that others would be inspired to challenge themselves to do the same. If the reader has no intention of doing the same activity, at least, it would be known that the human body can have the capability to endure pain and fatigue and slowly can adapt to whatever stress being introduced to the body, thus, making one’s body stronger.

In this age of high-technology/Internet and in the advent of “real-time” webcasts & social networking platforms, one’s activity can be known anywhere in the world in a split of a second!

Brian Stark: USA Transcontinental Trail Runner

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I’ve been reading the book, “Getting To The Point: In A Dozen Pairs of Shoes” by Brian Stark who did his 5,000-mile solo trail run for 238 days from March to November 2008 along the newly designed American Discovery Trail from Cape Henlopen, Delaware to Point Reyes, California.

Since the activity was a solo run, he did not have any support crew or pacer during the run. He just carried with him a 10-pound pack which included his water hydration system, making sure to run along the trails across America.

What I admire with this guy was that he really prepared for the said run. It took him one year to coordinate with the organizations that maintain the American Discovery Trail; compile at least 500 maps; arranged for logistics drop-off point in selected Post Offices of towns & cities along the way; created his personal website for the event; and saved $ 10,000 cash to finance his trip. He even arranged for his shoe sponsor making sure that a brand-new shoes as replacement would be picked-up in a pre-designated Post Office along the way. Even media outlets (newspapers, radio and TV) were coordinated and informed about his running event.

Brian Stark, in his daily runs along the trails, would be able to finish at least 30-40 miles and then look for a decent place to stay if a trail is located near a town or city at the end of the day. Sometimes, he would sleep in parks, Fire Stations, churches, schools, and in the homes of strangers who are willing to offer dinner & breakfast, bed and shower.

To update his website and reply to messages in his e-mail address, he would go to Public Libraries along the way to use their computer. The following excerpts was taken from a post from the Internet describing the feats of Brian Stark:

After driving back from the Boston Marathon, where his dad had run, Brian Stark, then 7, got out to use the bathroom during a stop for gas somewhere in Pennsylvania. No one took note, not even when Stark ran up and banged on the family van as it pulled away. “When my parents stopped for breakfast 300 miles away, they noticed I was missing,” he says. These days, Stark could have just kept running until he caught up with them. In 1998, he ran 4,800 miles across the country on the American Discovery Trail, which runs along America’s trails and back roads. It began in a sleet storm in Delaware and ended 238 days later at the Golden Gate Bridge — followed by a drive to L.A. and an appearance on “The Price Is Right.” “I won eight stuffed teddy bears and two trips, one to Hawaii, one to Canada,” says Stark, 36, who frequently pulls experiences from his trek while teaching gifted language arts at Corona Foothills Middle School in the Vail School District. And yes, he sometimes jogs to school, all 35 miles. “I have to get up at 1:30 a.m.,” says Stark, who is married and a father to two little girls, ages 2 and 3. He kept a journal while on his run and afterward wrote a book about the experience, “Getting to the Point: In a Dozen Pairs of Shoes.” “I picked out 12 pairs of running shoes and mailed them to 12 post offices 400 miles apart,” says Stark. When he arrived at each post office — each about three weeks apart — a new pair of shoes would be there to replace his worn-out ones. Along the way, local newspapers and TV stations chronicled his trek through their towns and CBS “Sunday Morning” broadcast a brief telephone interview. Sometimes he slept in motels. Other times he slept under bridges, in barns, even in outhouses. More than once, he’d just knock on a door. More often than not, he’d be invited in for a meal, and maybe a bed. Not once, he says, did anyone slam a door in his face. “No one ever threw anything at me, or tried to run me off the road.” Eight policemen, however, did inquire as to what he was doing, the first in Kansas. “I was sitting on a guardrail looking at a map and he pulled up in his squad car. He asked me what I was doing in the middle of Kansas without a car. I said, ‘I’m running to California.’ ” Even though he handed the cop a card explaining his circumstances, “He still checked me out.” Born in Indiana, Stark ran cross-country in middle school, continuing through high school and then at Hanover College in southern Indiana. After graduating in 1995, he rewarded himself with a five-month, 2,000-mile hike from Maine to Georgia along the Appalachian Trail. In Massachusetts, he met a man who hiked nude every Tuesday. Naturally, it was a Tuesday. Even so, Stark continued on. For the next three years, he lived as a caretaker in a primitive cabin in southern Indiana. “There was no running water and the only heat came from a fireplace,” he says. “After that, I thought I needed a break.” The “break,” of course, would be running across the country. “I’d never been west,” he says. A brother dropped him off at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the morning of March 8, 1998. It was 43 degrees and sleeting. Stark was carrying a 10-pound backpack filled with a sleeping bag, jacket, water bottle, cheese crackers, credit card, maps and “one Band-Aid, just in case.” As his brother rolled away, he cracked the window and told him to call if he wanted to quit. Stark never did, aiming to get to the Rocky Mountains after most of the snow had melted. He mostly ran and sometimes walked about 10 hours a day, trying to space it about 25 to 35 miles between towns. That proved impossible in Nevada, where the towns were more than 100 miles apart and he had 37 mountain ranges to cross.

In 2001, Stark did the Arizona Trail between Mexico and Utah in 39 days. In 2004, he ran across Iowa.

While reading this book, the following thoughts came to my mind:

1) Did Cesar Guarin of BOTAK come up with a book or a written account of his Run Across America in the 80s? I knew that he is one of the consultants of Joy Rojas and Mat Macabe during their planning preparation for the Takbong Pangarap Run Across America. A running experience as big as Running the Continental USA is worth to be printed in a book.

2) I thought of Joy Rojas and I tried to find out from the Internet if there is any word about the progress of her Takbong Pangarap. Since I could not see any information after she started her run in Eagle Rock, California almost 60 days ago, I posted the question in my Twitter as to where she is right now. Ben Gaetos had the initiative to answer my question by sending an e-mail to Joy Rojas and it led to Mat Macabe’s call to him.

3) Why did Joy Rojas thought of not creating a blog or website on her own instead of relying to the website of After leaving Eagle Rock, California, POC had never updated her running activities. Being a news editor and news writer, she would have known the importance of the Internet in order to “journalize” her daily runs and let her readers know where she is and her daily experiences. In the book, Brian Stark would update his running journal in his website at the end of the day if he had an access to the Internet, if not, he would write his journal in a notebook and later wrote his updates whenever he had an access to the Internet. As compared now and the time when Brian Stark did his run across America’s trails, every town or city has its own public library with a computer, if not, there are so many Internet Cafes in every commercial establishment, even Motels now have Wi-Fi connections in every room with a very minimal additional cost. Access to the Internet right now is very common, cheap, and accessible. I am sure that every house in every big town or city has an Internet connection. Even cellphones nowadays have access to the Internet to include social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

4) One of my readers made a comment in my post about Joy Rojas and he/she has doubts about her running adventure to the point that she is suspected to be riding and running along the way. There goes the another “controversy” again! The following is the comment from cutierunner about Joy Rojas’ run from Las Vegas, Nevada to Denver, Colorado:

i too wondered where she was after she reached las vegas on may 23 and then silence until she pops out in denver for the western union shindig on june 23/ is she running or riding part of the way? google maps say that from las vegas to denver is a good 844 miles / from reports she says she takes a break every six days that leaves her with only 25 running days going from the desert to the state with the highest mean elevation in my country/ that’s uphill all the way to Colorado (during a season when flash thunderstorms occur), at 30 miles a day which is more than a marathon a day, she would still be short by 94 miles, so she must do something like 20% more to be statistically in denver by the date/ To set records, it would have been better if she wore one of these tracker gps items available here so that we do not have to rely on the word of her trainer who i hear is her boyfriend anyway and guess whether she is actually running or riding part of the way – also strange is having a crew of one

(Note: In my previous post on the pictures of Joy Rojas, I did not notice if she is wearing a Garmin watch, have you?)

I strongly believe that Joy Rojas could also do ala-Brian Stark running adventure across America if she has the necessary preparations, contacts along the way, and updated information about her daily activities.

5) In one of the Ultrarunning Magazines that Rick Gaston gave me, I read about Dean Karnazes plan to run across America using the American Discovery Trail from San Francisco to the East Coast and it is presently on the “drawing boards”. I guess, this will be fully supported by sponsors, marketing stuffs, and good PR support. What I like about Brian Stark is that he did it on his own without any “gimmicks” or marketing stuffs and even without any crew or support and pacer along the way, most especially while he was running the winding roads and trails of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level.

6) Brian Stark did not set a deadline for him to finish his run and he did not pressure himself to reach a designated place. He had to take a lot of rest for his body to recover during the early part of his run and as the days and weeks have passed, he became stronger. He would find time to visit museums, tourist attractions, historical places and even enjoy the food distinct to every place he stayed while recovering from his rigorous runs. This a good example of a running adventure where you have enough time to explore the places you are passing through by visiting their tourist attractions, museums, and other historical places. Hence, he was able to write a book with all the pictures and clippings of newspaper accounts on his run.

If you have plans of running a multi-stage/multi-day running adventure, Brian Stark and his book is a good inspiration and source of experiences and a guide to a successful running adventure. I am highly recommending every runner to read this book.

Where Is Joy Rojas?

At present, I am reading a book entitled, “Getting To The Point: In A Dozen Pairs Of Shoes” by Brian R. Stark. This book is about the personal account of the author as a “Transcontinental Runner” by running along the newly designed American Discovery Trail (ADT), starting at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware to Point Reyes National Seashore (50 miles north of San Francisco, California). It was a solo trail run without any support and crew covering a distance of 5,000 miles which he completed in 238 days (8 months) from March to November 1998.While reading this book, I thought of Joy Rojas of Takbong Pangarap Run Across America as to where she is now after starting her 120 days run from Eagle Rock, California to New York City on the 2nd week of May this year. She is already one-half of her scheduled duration to complete her feat and there is no available update about her. This is the very reason why I asked a question on my Twitter about her whereabouts.Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Ben Gaetos, an ultra runner friend from Los Angeles who ran with Joy Rojas for 5 miles from Eagle Rock Plaza (start of the run), informing me that Mat Macabe called him and Ben relayed to me the salient information about the progress of Joy Rojas run across America.Joy Rojas and Mat Macabe are presently somewhere in the plains of Kansas after crossing the high mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains which means that they were able to cross the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.

According to Mat Macabe, Chuck Crisanto, one of the crew/support, abandoned them in Las Vegas, Nevada. I think Mr Chuck Crisanto was supposed to be the PR guy and driver of their support vehicle and at the same time alternate support crew to Mat Macabe. Moreover, Chuck Crisanto brought with him his wife and his 2 toddlers in the trip. Mat also claimed that Chuck was out all the time shopping and when on the run, he’s nowhere on the road as he uses the Freeway instead of  following Joy’s run on the side roads. The worse is that Mat also said that Chuck is in his possession 70% of the donated money to support the run. Fortunately, Joy and Mat found someone to support them after Chuck Crisanto abandoned them. The “Good Samaritan” is an editor or owner of a Pinoy newspaper who provided them with a support vehicle.

The abovementioned information came from the side of Mat Macabe who is in constant contact with Joy Rojas being her pacer & support crew. I really do not know personally Mr Chuck Crisanto as he should be able to explain his side about the said information about him and his family’s whereabouts. 

 Yesterday, I sent an e-mail to Joy Rojas as she requested Ben Gaetos to find out and send to her my e-mail address. I hope Joy Rojas will be able to respond to my message. If you have the time and want to send a message of support to Joy Rojas, you can send your e-mail message to

The picture of Joy Rojas was taken from the following news report of Joseph Pimentel of the Asian Journal Los Angeles dated July 11, 2009.

Joy Rojas In Kansas
Joy Rojas In Kansas

Joy Rojas in Kansas

Sunday, 12 July 2009 23:49 Joseph Pimentel / AJPress Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – THE text message read, “We are in Great Bend, Kansas, staying on highway 50 and 56.”

She followed it with a phone call to this reporter.

“We’ve made it to Kansas,” exclaimed Filipina marathoner Joy Rojas to the Asian Journal last Thursday July 9. “It’s totally different running here than it was in Colorado. Kansas is flat and hot with lots of corn and wheat fields, lots of sun.”

She says the Midwest sun gets as hot as Manila in the summer.

The 44-year-old Rojas is less than halfway from her goal of running across the United States of America.

Waking up at 6am everyday, Rojas has been running 30 to 35 miles a day since she began her Trans-USA run called Takbong Pangarap or Dream Run at the Eagle Rock Plaza in Los Angeles, California on May 10. She made a quick stop over in Las Vegas, Nevada where she was celebrated during Western Union Customer Appreciation Day on May 23 and another stopover at the Western Union headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Western Union is one of the sponsors of her Trans-USA run.

She says that she’s on her way to reaching her goal of arriving at the Philippine Consulate in New York City on September 8.

So far, Rojas and her trainer, Mat Macabe, have run for more than 40 days now, crossed five states, jogged over 1,000 miles, and touched the lives of many people who see the two running on highways and streets across America.

While passing through Arizona, a couple saw Rojas and Macabe running. When they found out the reason for Rojas’ run, they immediately invited the Filipina and her partner to their home for dinner. The same thing happened in Colorado. Rojas recalls how before reaching Denver, a Filipino man read the words “Can we ignite the Filipino spirit across America?” on the Western Union support vehicle. He then immediately introduced himself to Rojas and Macabe. After the day’s run, the Filipino man came over to their hotel where he cooked them dinner consisting of elk and deer that the man had hunted.

“Can you believe that? All of these strangers that we meet everyday have been so kind and generous to us,” said Rojas. “I’m a vegetarian but when he asked if I was eating elk and deer I said ‘for you, I will.’ You have to be a gracious guest.”

Another time in Colorado, Rojas met a group of cyclists on the road like her but they were biking across the US from San Francisco to New Hampshire.

Rojas and the cyclists took pictures and wished each other well.

The experience has been so far so good, says Rojas.

Rojas also admits that the run sometimes is a bit unforgiving. In Colorado, she had to withstand the high altitude and steep roads that at times, required her to stop and walk but she continues to persevere.

Despite being tired at times after a long day’s run, she says that by the time she wakes up the next morning, she feels refreshed and ready to go.

A survivor of tuberculosis, Rojas’s is running for her beneficiaries: a Division of the Philippine Heart Center and the Anti-TB Program of the Inner Wheel Club of Quezon City, District 378

Rojas said that after Colorado, her run should be smooth as the flat plains of Kansas.