Riverdale’s Richard Westbrook Sees Georgia By Foot – Again

Posted: July 4, 2013 by smrtnsasy in Adventure Running
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By DIANNE BEARD, Sports Writer

Richard Westbrook was traveling down Georgia’s U.S. Highway 441 and made a wrong turn. For most people that’s no problem. They just stop, turn their car around and get back and it’s no big deal.

But what if you’re not in a car?

Westbrook was on a journey across Georgia on foot when he strayed off of Highway 441 and jogged an additional 10 miles.

“It’s different when you’re in a car, but when I got off track, I decided to keep jogging until I hit 441 again rather than go back,” Westbrook explained.

The physical education teacher at Riverdale High School, started the 372 mile trek July 9 and finished on the 15th. Westbrook said that he had calculated how much he could run each day and figured he could finish in six days rather then seven, but the heat was too much.

On the second and third days, the heat took its toll and Westbrook was unable to keep his food down and was forced to limit his jogging those days.

“I jogged more the first day than I did on the second two combined,” Westbrook said.

The heat reached 96 degrees several times during his trip so Westbrook changed his schedule around to include night running.

“I started running harder in the early mornings so I could take longer afternoon breaks when it was hottest. Some nights, I would run until 1 or 1:30 in the morning and then get up the next day at 5 a.m.,” Westbrook said. “I got less sleep than the previous days, but I felt better than I had when I ran during the middle of the days.”

He also said that many of the people who saw him running were concerned about his running in the heat. “They gave me food, drinks, fruit, shade and shelter,” he said.

Westbrook’s dream is to run through all of Georgia’s counties and if he continues the way he’s been going, then he will.

This was Westbrook’s second trip across the state. He took U.S. Route 27 the first time and said that “it was a lot harder because the hills lasted longer and continued down past Columbus.”

Westbrook said that he chose Highway 441 because it is a continuous route and flatter near the end of the journey. Although it was flatter, this trip was made difficult by the extreme heat.

“I will never run in July again,” he said.

Westbrook’s trip, which ran from the northeast to southeast sections of Georgia, began two miles north of Dillard, went through 15 counties, and ended nine miles below Fargo.

Westbrook said that his next trip across Georgia will be Highway 41 which starts in the northwest tip of Georgia and runs south and he feels will be the easiest.

What is it that makes this exhausting trip worthwhile?

“Not only is it a challenge, but it’s like a mini-adventure. I cover geography and see people and places that I have never seen before,” Westbrook said. “It’s easy to travel by car or bike, but it’s unique to travel across the state on foot.”

One might say that carrying only one small bag weighing only 8 pounds is traveling light, but Westbrook said that he wanted the bag containing emergency items and a one-man tent to weigh only six pounds.

Westbrook camped when he could find a safe place and spent the other nights in a motel to “get away from the heat.”

THE WESTBROOK FAMILY HITS THE TRACK L-R Father Richard, Daughter Season, And Son Casey

THE WESTBROOK FAMILY HITS THE TRACK L-R Father Richard, Daughter Season, And Son Casey

“I didn’t eat very much at all. I forced myself to eat at night because I knew that I had to, but I wasn’t hungry, just thirsty,” Westbrook said.

The farthest that Westbrook traveled in one day was 68 miles on his fourth day. He said that “when you’re out there, you have got to go somewhere and you don’t want to go back.”

“Reaching Fargo was the highlight because right before that there were long stretches of land without towns and stores so I couldn’t get any fluids,” Westbrook explained. “I doubted whether or not I could make it, but when I knew Fargo was only nine miles away, I knew I would make it.”

When he arrived in Fargo, he relaxed, ate a good meal and then started back home – this time he drove with his wife.

Comments
  1. Amazing, wish I could get going and do something like that. Even to walk it would be a cool way to see the land! Great example Coach Westbrook!!

  2. David Warady says:

    Animal! Nice story. How many states have you run across? Have you ever thought about running across all of them? Have you ever thought of running The Great Wall of China?

  3. David Warady says:

    @Gary: Almost 300 people have crossed the US. For inspiration, check out the complete list at http://www.usacrossers.com (including Coach @ #128, 105th male) and check out the Facebook page/group, USA Crossers.

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