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Running Hope Through America – Texas Edition

Lisa Smith-Batchen, Sister Mary Beth and team (two people) rolled into Texas on Sunday to run/walk 50 miles for their awareness/fundraising project to help orphaned children around the world called Running Hope Through America. (See my original article for a more detailed explanation on the project.) I had to be a part of this and in fact my whole family got involved – super cool!

Texas was stop number 23, which means Lisa had already ran/walked/whatever 1100 miles in less than one month’s time. Then live in an RV with four others while averaging four hours a sleep a night. Try to wrap your head around that.


At 5:30 am, a cozy group of us gathered in front of event headquarters for the day, local running store and project supporter Luke’s Locker, located in north Plano. Conditions were actually quite pleasant with clear skies and a hint of coolness in the air. You couldn’t help but be excited for the day.

Before we got started, Lisa was interviewed by a local news channel and then her and Sister Mary Beth walked around and gave all of us hugs. This was followed by a short prayer by Sister Mary Beth and then a “Where do we go?” from Lisa. The journey has started.

My original plan for the day was to run/walk two loops, hang out for the middle miles of the day, and then rejoin for the final miles. Notice, I did say “original”.

The course was about a 5.5 mile loop that took us around/through a couple scenic corporate campuses and back. The surface was both sidewalk/concrete and finely crushed gravel.

Lisa said she was feeling pretty rough and felt like the wicked witch from the west (her words), but she kept moving forward with smiles and kindness. The entire first loop everyone walked together.

Starting the second loop some people started doing their own running while in small groups or solo. Since it was a nice tight course, you would always see people going back-and-forth. Throughout the day, a few runners would leave and some new ones join in.

After loop two, I swapped shoes because I was feeling some hot spots on the back of my heel. Strange. Unfortunately the burn continued for the rest of the day and it wasn’t until I looked at the socks did I realize the cause. For some strange reason, the socks had some decorative stitching towards the back of the heel which made it a bit rough on the inside of the sock. 50 miles of rub, rub, rub, turned into two quarter sized blisters. Goodbye to those socks!

Wendy and Griffin joined in on loop three. We ran/walked some with both Sister Mary Beth and Lisa. Good stuff!

Sister Mary Beth kept ticking off the miles, in the full habit and all. While Lisa does the 50 miles, Sister Mary Beth will do 20-25 miles. Pretty cool!

Seeing the running shoes on Sister Mary Beth, it just plain cool. You can’t help but smile. She also has this great personality and humor…you couldn’t help but chuckle as she was telling us about the police officer that took about 12 double takes as she was running alongside the road.

After each completed loop, Lisa and Sister Mary Beth would regroup and rest for 10-15 minutes or so before starting another loop. Depending on what Lisa needed, she would change shoes/socks, ice her feet, massage, eat, or just plain rest.

Afternoon – The Hunt

As the day progressed those clear morning skies, led to a fairly warm afternoon.

Lisa would tell us that six cents would provide a meal for a child around the world. So what happened for a portion of the late afternoon? We all started looking for loose change on the ground as we jogged.

The final eight or so miles turned into this big scavenger hunt, in which we would run through giant parking lots or ramps and look for coins on the ground. Lisa was lovin’ the change of pace and a chance to get out of the sun and probably most importantly, get her mind away from running…we were all having fun with it. As long as her Garmin kept it’s satellite connection and ticked off the miles, we were golden.

Whenever someone would find a coin, there would be some hollerin’. It was pretty funny. I think the heat and miles were getting to all of us but we kept moving forward with this child-like enthusiasm.

Wendy and Griffin also joined in on some of the late afternoon fun as we worked the parking lots. Griffin was in the jogger and would say, “I am chasing you” to some of the other joggers as we scanned the lots. Eventually Wendy and Griffin stopped at a big water fountain and played for a while as we finished off the rest of the miles.

Then finally, it was time to head back to the start/finish area as mile 50 was fast approaching. The small group of us all started jogging towards the front of Luke’s Locker together as Lisa waved her white towel saying, “I surrender”, and then it was done. 50 miles! Woohoo!

After hugs, photos, and some banter, everyone started to head home.

Then I had to come to the realization that I moved my body 50 miles today and actually felt pretty good besides those darn blisters. This was truly an experience like no other running event I have ever done. The amazing people, the purpose, the fun. It had it all.

Lisa, Sister Mary Beth, and the entire Running Hope Through America team – simply amazing people.

If the project interests you, be sure to check out where you can see her upcoming schedule and the tax deductible donation page. As noted above, every dollar actually does help and goes 100% to the charities defined.

Live a life of purpose. There is no other way.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

3 Responses to “Running Hope Through America – Texas Edition”

  1. on 20 May 2010 at 9:29 pm Patton

    Great post Dave. At this point I am still having a hard time finding the words. It was an epic and very memorable day. We all have those moments in life when we know we are in a very special energy, and Sunday was certainly that. What else would you expect with a running nun?

  2. on 24 May 2010 at 8:41 pm Sarah

    How awesome and I love how you all started looking around for change. What a great thing to be a part of. I’ve been following Lisa’s journey and have thought of going out when she’s in Oregon (depending on location and if I can get away from work.)

  3. on 25 May 2010 at 8:04 am David Hanenburg

    Patton – Not just a running nun, an ultrarunning nun! 🙂

    Sarah – If have an opportunity – do it! You won’t regret it.