Pennsylvania, known as the Keystone State due to its key position in the economic, social, and political development of the United States since the 1700s, is arguably one of the most beautiful states in the Union. And John Radich would agree, as he found himself running along scenic Hwy 30 as it winds into the forested Allegheny Mountains.
John’s legs are abruptly awakened by the steep climbs this terrain has to offer, having been “spoiled” by the flatter, gentler states of Indiana and Ohio. Hwy 30 climbs and then climbs some more with breathtaking vistas shared by coal trucks carrying their cargo from the local mines, which leaves an oily scent of coal lingering in the mountain air on this 15-mile stretch of road.
Onto and through busy Pittsburgh, the land of Steelers fans, and back into more rural and hilly Pennsylvania, heading for Philly. The weather is sunny and cold.
John continues through the Pennsylvania countryside and runs near the site of the Flight 93 Memorial, which he finds to be quite a powerful and moving experience. The memorial is located 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and honors the passengers of Flight 93, who stopped the terrorists from reaching their target on September 11, 2001. A temporary memorial to the 40 victims was established soon after the crash, with a permanent memorial slated to be constructed and completed in 2011.
It snows one day, though not a heavy snow, and John enjoys running by the cabins and well-crafted homes of stone that dot the forested Hwy 30 (Lincoln Highway). Fortunately, he has wide shoulders to run on as he approaches Latrobe, PA, home of legendary pro golfer Arnold Palmer. This is a beautiful and friendly town, one of many such towns with names like Irwin, Boswell, and Bedford, all quaint and steeped in early American history.
The temperatures are now in the low 30s at night, with a mild Indian summer feeling during the days, which is quite a blessing, with the weather gods being kind to John so far. The last section of hill running awaits John in the busy hub of Breezewood, where he stops to refuel.
John begins most of his days at 7 a.m. and runs 35 to 40 miles, stopping around 8 p.m. John says, “I went as far as 50 miles a day with fresh legs in the beginning weeks of this adventure, but I have brought that back to average 35 or so miles per day to avoid injury. I’ve held up pretty well. It’s been a grueling yet immeasurably rewarding experience. I’ve been able to raise over $50,000 for youth character building programs, which has made this run all worth it.”
Gettysburg is another stop along John’s route, and he takes in the historical sites and landmarks that commemorate this epic American Civil War battle. Gettysburg was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, and is often described as the war’s turning point.
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Approaching Philadelphia, John passes through Lancaster, which is Amish country, and sees horse-drawn carriages on busy roads and intersections – not a sight John is used to seeing back in Los Angeles, just as he is not a sight the Amish are used to seeing, either, as they go about their busy day.
On November 21, John at long last enters Philadelphia and joins nearly 20,000 runners who set off from 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway just after 7 a.m. in the 17th running of the Philadelphia Marathon. John is able to run through this historic city, taking in the Liberty Bell and the famous museum steps that Rocky Balboa ran up in the movie.
With the smell of ocean air piercing John’s nostrils and the sight of ocean breakers coming into view, John reaches Atlantic City and the Atlantic Ocean. After close to 5 months of running, what began as a 16-year-old’s dream back in high school was finally fulfilled, 40 years later in adulthood.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurting, but it’s all been worth it,” John said. “I take Natural Vitality Sports supplements that have helped me throughout the run, especially on those mornings where it’s been incredibly hard to get up and get going. My deep appreciation goes out to all my crew and friends who helped me reach this dream. You guys are the best! And to all the great people who I met along the way, I am grateful, honored, and humbled by their response to my efforts and my cause. This has been the most rewarding experience of my life.”