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Imagine running 3,384 blistering miles in 107 days. Setting out from Seaside, Ore., on April 7 and averaging more than a marathon distance each day, Seth Wolpin did just that, winding his way over the Teton Pass, across the Continental Divide at sunset, and through the high prairie in Idaho and Wyoming.
Nine pairs of sneakers later, he reached Boston, his destination, on July 20, raising money for cancer research at Dana-Farber's Phyllis F. Cantor Center for Research in Nursing and Patient Care Services.
Wolpin, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington, is a National Institutes of Health-funded researcher. He chose Dana-Farber as his fundraising recipient because of his work with mentor and colleague Donna Berry, RN, PhD, director of the Cantor Center. "It boils down to Dr. Donna Berry's work," says Wolpin. "I trust her work implicitly, and that is the reason I chose Dana-Farber."
Specifically, the area of research led by Berry that Wolpin wanted to support addresses "how we can do a better job helping cancer patients report and manage their symptoms and quality-of-life issues," he says. "Lab values are important, but so are the symptoms that patients are experiencing." Funds raised will be used to support post-doctoral researchers at the Cantor Center.
"I was also impressed that Dana-Farber has staff dedicated to runners who are fundraising and that I could direct the funds to a specific program within the Institute," he adds.
With only four rest days – in Boise, Idaho; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and two in Chicago – Wolpin's longest run in a single day was 53 miles. In preparation for his transcontinental run, Wolpin, who runs everywhere in Seattle, increased his weekly mileage. "I 'run commute' and usually run (literally) all of my errands, sometimes getting in 15-20 miles with as many as five runs a day," he says. "And I usually try to do one or two trail runs between 30 and 50 miles a month."
For Wolpin, whose run ended with a dip in the water at Castle Island in South Boston, encouragement along the route fueled his finish. "No one has ever said running across the country is an easy journey, but the help I've received from many people has made many a steep hill more gentle," he writes in his blog.
From his run, Wolpin also raised money to offset education costs for the daughters of two Sherpas who helped him last year when he climbed Mount Everest.