Book Review: Running Water, Abraham Louis Clark
"I reached over the side of my 26-foot sailboat and into the world's largest body of fresh water. The cool clear water darted around my fingertips as the wind pushed us over the sparking waves. " Thus begins the dreaming that ended after 136 days of grueling running, sometimes 40-50 miles per day, that carried Abe Clark across the United States. He was the 15th person to "run across America solo and unsupported." His run raised over $90,000 for the non-profit Living Water International.
Abe was unsupported in that he pushed a three-wheeled baby stroller with his equipment and food. He slept in motels, churches, homes, the open air, and snow caves. He had numerous radio and TV interviews during his trek, and that publicity helped him get food, money, and places to stay. Often, though, he asked strangers if he could "crash" at their house. One night he was sleeping with his hammock hanging from a wooden fence, and he was wakened by a voice that said, "Step out of the tent sir, this is the state patrol." The police had been summoned by an alarm caused by the jiggling of the fence by his hammock. Abe picked up his things and moved them a few feet. The trooper questioned his only going a few feet and then said, "Well that should be fine I guess, as long as you're not touching the fence."
Abe had friends scattered across the country, and he planned his route so he could stay a night or two with them. He took a week off from running and went to his home in Wisconsin to see his family and his fiancé. He was careful, though, to have his friends or strangers take him back to the exact spot that ended his run the day before.
I was impressed with his ability to run long distances, sometimes 40-50 miles per day. He would go out and run a 20-miler with the same ease that I might run a 3-miler. This book is not a book about running techniques. The book is about the exploits of one person who ran across America. The book is about his determination to complete his quest. The book is about his relationships with the people he encountered while he ran. The book is about their reactions to him. The book is about running across America.
The book ends with these words: I have always desired to lead a fulfilled and meaningful life; for some reason my answer to that was to run across America. The philosophy I learned on the sailboat also rang true for the run - follow your dreams and you will not be disappointed. You will not look back and say, "If only I would have lived on a sailboat," or "If only I would have run across America." I know how time works and I know one day I will have to look back. Anything can be accomplished one step at a time. Sometimes the first step is the hardest, but without that first step I never would have been able to take my last step into the Atlantic Ocean.
Copyright 2011 Abraham Louis Clark