The Background Behind this Run

Hi! My name is Kyle Lang, I am from West Salem, WI, and I am a member of Princeton University’s class of 2019. I grew up in a Catholic household with my parents and older brother as role models, and from looking up to them I developed interests in music, the outdoors, and the Packers. Oh— and running. My first running experience came when I was two years old; my parents took my brother and me to the annual Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac, WI. Amidst all of the festivities, there is a ⅓-mile kids “race”, which I “ran” holding my mom’s hand. Apparently I was crying the whole time.

Eventually I was able to make it through a race without crying, and I continued pursuing running throughout middle and high school, where I was committed to becoming the best runner I could be.

For all of the miles that the “best runner I could be” put in, I did not become very good, cruising to middle-of-the-pack, low/mid-varsity performances in high school. While I was generally happy with my accomplishments and the accomplishments of the team, there were several times I was disappointed and felt that I deserved better results.

After my mom ran a marathon and my grandpa gave me Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, for Christmas my sophomore year, I thought I figured out what the “real problem” was. It wasn’t that I was too slow, it was that the distances were too short. So the summer before my junior year, I ran a marathon. I guess 26.2 miles wasn’t long enough either, because I paced myself very poorly to a middle-of-the-pack 3:45.

The next summer, I stepped up the distance again, running 101 miles in two days, this time in an effort to raise awareness and money for two local hunger organizations as a part of my senior exit project. Ever since that journey, I have not been able to get the idea of a transcontinental run out of my head.

For me, this journey is a way to enjoy the United States at a leisurely pace, take some cool photos and videos, and meet new people. But it is also a way to use my love of running for good– for the betterment of others. It is a way to make this passion of mine about more than just becoming faster and stronger, as my middle school self was concerned with. Because running is much deeper than impressive times and crazy fitness; it’s about overall wellness, from physical to mental to spiritual to emotional to social to even occupational. And on this never-ending journey to wellness, I am learning that maybe the “best runner” I committed to becoming at a young age is not the fastest or the strongest or the one who puts in the most miles. Maybe the best runner Kyle Lang can be is one who runs for others, whether it’s one mile across campus or 2,967 miles across the United States.

Kyle’s Running Bucket List

 In my lifetime, I hope to…

  1. Run across the United States.

  2. Run the perimeter of the United States.

  3. Run the length of the Western Hemisphere, north to south, from Barrow, Alaska, to Punta Arenas, Chile.

  4. Run across all 50 states.

Mile 27 of my 101 mile journey (2014).

Together, let’s run united.

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