Coast-to-coast for cancer: A runner's mission

RAW VIDEO: John Boel runs for a story

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – I used to think training for Ironman Triathlons was difficult. Then I met Lauren Beahl.
She's attempting something much more impressive. She's going to run 4,000 miles in 49 days, along with 29 other college kids.

You've probably passed the 21-year-old out running all over Louisville. In the snow. In the heat. Hacking with bronchitis. Recovering from a stress fracture.

She's training to run from San Francisco to New York City these days by running thru a forest.
Running just like Forrest.  Forrest Gump.

Coast to coast. But unlike Forrest Gump's cross country run, Lauren Beahl has a purpose.

"He had a headache and so we took him up to Louisville to go to the hospital and they diagnosed him and within a month he couldn't even eat by himself," Beahl said one day before we took off on a training run.

Her grandfather was swallowed fast by pancreatic cancer. Her grandmother survived her battle with breast cancer. So Lauren is raising money for the Ulman Cancer Fund.

"I remember one time specifically, I gave him a glass of water, didn't think anything of it. He couldn't even hold it up, just dropped out of his lap. It was terrible to watch him go through it," she said.

Lauren had to go through multiple interviews to be selected. To cover 4,000 miles, with only four miniMarathons on her running resume, she had to convince them she has mental mileage.

"When you're out in the middle of nowhere, you can't say 'I don't want to do this anymore' and walk home," she said.

"Have you thought about the varying weather conditions you could be facing?" I asked.

"I like the heat," she said. "I'd rather run in the heat than the cold."
"Desert heat?" I asked.
"We skip Arizona, so we don't get into torture heat," she said.

Like a relay, they will run in pairs, two miles at a time. Then they get shuttled ahead to the next two mile stretch. Each runner will cover 16 miles every day.
As we ran down Southern Parkway, I asked Lauren to describe the most painful thing she has had to endure athletically in her life.
"My softball coach used to make us do these things called Fives. Run up and down the court five times in 26 seconds. If you don't make it, everyone on the team has to run more," she said.
Cancer is like that. Every family member gets punished when someone has it and can't keep up. So you feel like you have to do something about it.

"I started volunteering at Kosair Children's Hospital last year. I saw how much me volunteering did, and I could do more. And this is my more," she said.
More miles plus more money equals less stress.

I asked her if she's going to turn around and come back across the country like Forrest Gump did when he got to the ocean.
"I think I'm gonna get on the airplane," she said while laughing.

The 49 day cross country marathon starts June 19, just in time for summer heat. Lauren is trying to raise $6,000. If you want to donate, click the link to her fundraising page:

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