"You're gonna look like frog people!"

Week One: Ashland to Duluth

Week one has come and gone. It’s funny, we’ve been talking about this journey for over a year and a half, yet it feels hard to believe that we already have seven days and 118 miles behind us. Our send-off felt ceremonial as it was full of friendly faces and feasting. We packed our cart in good company in the morning and then…started running. No matter how much planning goes into a trip, there comes the moment when all you have left to do is take the first step. For us, this meant the first step of the first mile out of 1,300. Our strides felt strange and giddy that morning because after a year and a half of planning, we were finally moving. The maps we pored over became the road in front of us.

We filled our bottles at the artesian well and took time to dip our hands in Chequamegon Bay, a place that has been home base for us. Our first leg of the day was filled with sunshine and support in the form of strawberry chia lemonade, rhubarb crisp, and an unexpected power totem (May the Floyd be with you). It was a new experience, to cover such a familiar route through a different form of movement.  We found that when we’re not in a car, signs stand comically out of proportion and landmarks wait patiently as we slowly plod towards them.

The last half of the day found us arriving in Bayfield, where we rested our legs in the company of our new friend, Cody. Sharing a meal and stories was the perfect end to our first day. Being on this expedition has opened many doors to profoundly powerful conversations with people we spend time with. We only hope this continues.

To wake up on day two of any expedition is almost as exciting as day one, but the road from Bayfield to Cornucopia kept us grounded as we climbed hills in the beating sun. Together we found out what it really takes to push a 100 lb. stroller up miles of incline. It’s super fun. After this trying time we felt we had developed a relationship with our Burley stroller. Consequently we have dubbed our blue, three-wheeled friend, Rig. When we were wrapping up camp for the night in Cornucopia we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from two adventurous and artistic folks. We talked about adventure, ideas of success and how running 1,300 miles may have us looking like frog-people.

Our other big challenge came but a few miles from the warmth and protection of a close friend’s house in Poplar. We spent most of the day keeping a wary eye on thunderclouds. While we appreciated their beauty as they rolled over hayfields and forests, we appreciated them much less so as when rain started to spit sideways. In our quickened pace through the thunderstorm we accidentally injured Rig. This was Rig’s first flat. Sorry Rig!

We’ve been taking our time throughout the first week - making sure to listen to and respond to our bodies as they take on all the miles. Mostly they say “Ouch! F&%k! Why?!” Even with all of our combined experience, planning a running expedition has involved a lot of best guesses. We’ve never undertaken something like this and we don’t personally know many other folks who have. We are writing the blueprints as we go. It’s reassuring to know that Rig hasn’t fallen apart yet and we’ve packed enough calories to get through the first leg. After 118 miles, we are well on our way. Now that we’ve made it to Duluth, we pivot North and East, saying goodbye to the sandy south shore to run along the harsher basalt coastline of Minnesota’s north shore.