Dane Rauschenberg is already known for running 52 marathons in 52 weekends, but when he announced in 2010 that he would be taking on a solo running of the American Odyssey Relay, it seemed out of the realm of possibility. Normally reserved for teams of 6-12 runners, the 202-mile relay race can take groups of well-rested people up to 36 hours to complete.
Well, Dane not only nailed the task of running from Gettysburg, Pa., to Washington, D.C., but he did it in the astonishing time of a little more than 50 hours. And now he’s taking to Kickstarter to tell the story through a documentary that will take viewers on a roller coaster ride of emotion, physicality and humor.
I sat down with the extreme runner, author and motivational speaker to pick his brain about tackling that monstrous number of miles, as well as how he’s hoping his film will show others that they, too, can chase their own seemingly-impossible dreams.
KineticFix: You started running in law school to keep your weight in check. How’d you make the leap to extreme events/distances?
Dane Rauschenberg: It happened very suddenly. I went from barely running at all to all of a sudden planning on running 52 marathons in a year. Back in 2006 there was hardly anyone doing multiple marathons at max effort in one year, so it seemed outlandish for me to every try it. But to PR in my 42nd week of the year showed I wasn’t just out there to collect medals.
KF: Where’d you get the idea to do the American Odyssey Relay solo?
DR: It was a confluence of multiple events. I worked for a running company that put on races similar to the AOR, and that planted the seed. Then I wanted to see what was possible. I had no real idea how long it would take or how to go about doing it, but I figured out a way.
KF: Do you have a favorite moment or memory from the experience?
DR: It sounds cliché, but the finish was my favorite memory. Or more accurately, the last few hours. I was running completely alone (my crew had to return vehicles and get to the finish), and it gave me time to reflect on what I was going to achieve.
KF: What’s been tougher during your extreme running feats – the physical strain or the logistics?
DR: Logistics, without a doubt. When I ran 350 miles in one week up the Oregon Coast, it was the running that was the easy (well, easier) part. Stopping virtually every day to speak to people at events or children at schools took a great deal of time, energy and simple coordination of schedules. Throwing such a rigid timeline into running 50 miles a day made it harder than actually running the distance each day.
KF: How do you find the pure motivation to keep moving for 50+ hours?
DR: I don’t see what I do as all that special. I am not being falsely modest; I just think that if I can do something, other people probably can, too. It is just plain and simple: If you set out to do something, barring unforeseen events that can actually harm you long-term, there is no reason not to keep moving forward.
KF: What are your favorite foods to fuel up on during long runs?
DR: I have learned a great deal about fueling over time. I used to swear by pasta and “carb-loading;” now I know that carbs are important, but so are proteins, fats, etc. In fact, in my longest runs I have learned that eating real meals is very important to me. By that I mean, while I supplement with PowerBar products, I know that I need to get real food into my body. I have found that, for me, eating lean beef products has allowed me to get moving again when I thought my runs were over — even in 100-milers where I stop and eat a cheeseburger in the middle of the event.
KF: Do you have any recovery tips for being able to bounce back quickly after long runs?
DR: Massage, rest and eating right. There are no tricks. People know what to do, but they don’t want to do it. Plus, apparently, pick the right parents!
KF: How do you prevent and/or manage injury along the way?
DR: We can usually tell what happens when an injury occurs. But when injuries do not occur, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly made them not happen. I bristle at all the running books where experts tell you the “proper” way to eat, train, run, etc. Everyone is so different and how people feel able to give a generalized message in such a specific way is beyond me.
KF: What’s your weekly mileage look like when you’re not training for an extreme endurance event?
DR: I wish I could give a straight answer here. I know I have never once topped 3,000 miles in a year. I have done all of my long-distance running on a diet of high-quality, low(ish) mileage. So, if I had to ballpark it, I would say 50 miles a week is a solid average for me.
KF: What do you hope people will take from the film?
DR: I hope people realize that they can do amazing things. I never say, “You can do whatever you want to do if you just put your mind to it,” as that sets up those who fall short as not “wanting” it enough. However, we can only find out what we can do by attempting to go beyond what we think is impossible.
KF: Got any tips for people who would like to do a half or a full marathon but don’t think they can handle it?
DR: Absolutely! Look at me. I was a 215-pound rugby player who boxed amateur. My first marathon was a 4:12. I have now run in the 2:40s for a full, and know I can get faster. I hated running. I thought it was punishment, and I wasn’t an out-of-shape guy who hated running; I was an athlete. I have failed constantly. I will continue to fail. But I will get back up and try again. So can anyone.
KF: Finally, what’s up next/what’s left on your ‘extreme bucket list?’
DR: I despise the term “bucket list.” If money were no object, there are few things in this world I wouldn’t want to do. I want to learn how to play an instrument. I would enjoy learning another language (or two) fluently. I hope to learn how to tango someday. That is how I wish to experience life.
With regards to running itself, I have learned that one must know to say “no” to the “what’s next” nagging question. We live in a world of instant gratification and instant accolades. Everyone is “awesome” or “wonderful,” and Facebook and social media allow us to have life envy of others whose lives are probably no better than our own.
We have to set our own agenda. After the past few years of sacrificing my own personal running goals with regards to getting faster in order to try and make a small difference with the little bit of publicity I have garnered, I would simply like to set a new marathon PR. I know I can go faster, and it would be wonderful to show — at age 37 — that I can find some speed again.
So in other words, everything is left on my list. I just hope I don’t run out of time.
Want to help Dean make his film a reality? Click here to make a pledge via Kickstarter!