The beginning of Shan Riggs’s story is an all-too familiar tale from 2020. When the pandemic hit, he lost his job as a sponsorship consultant for races and events, leaving him without work for the year as races were postponed or cancelled by COVID-19.
For months, Riggs was left with almost too much free time as he waited to see what would happen with the pandemic. He hoped he could return to his main client, the Hartford Marathon Foundation, near where he was living in Connecticut. However, by August, he realized he’d be without work for the remainder of the year.
While it was tough to accept in the moment, Riggs then realized that this might be the ideal time to achieve his dream of running across the country. Plus, he could use the 3,200-mile journey to raise money for Foodshare, a member of Feeding America that serves Connecticut’s Hartford and Tolland counties.
“I had done runs from Chicago to Indianapolis before, but never any multi-day runs that went on for months,” Riggs told Runner’s World. “Now that I suddenly didn’t have work, I realized that I could do something more, and I’d worked with Foodshare through the Hartford Marathon. When I’d see a football field with rows and rows of cars of tons of people who never needed help before, I knew I wanted to get as much visibility to them as possible.”
Riggs pulled together his plans in about three weeks. He parted ways with most of his belongings, trying to limit the overhead cost of rent and attempting to live solely out of the camper van he owned with his partner, Callie Vinson, who had been living in Chicago.
Once that was done, Riggs made his way across the country, picking up Vinson in Chicago on their way to San Francisco. On September 1, he started his long journey across the country.
Riggs wasn’t attempting a record-breaking run, so he was able to settle into a comfortable pace each day to complete his daily mileage in his Altras.
“I talked to a few people beforehand like Pete Kostelnick and Jason Romrero [who had previously run across the country] and they warned me about going out too fast,” Riggs said. “You can’t win day one, but you can lose on day one, so we started a little over 30 miles on day one and kept that up throughout, doing between 30 to 40 a day.” …