Aspiring ultra-distance runner Ryan Mills has the best of intentions. The name of his quest project notwithstanding he hopes to raise awareness for the importance of leading an active lifestyle and putting an end to a coach-bound existence. “A Rude Awakening” is an enterprise that aims to aggressively demonstrate how time outside can motivate a dramatic change. Making his way on foot over 184 miles through the scorching desert of Death Valley National Park Mills wants to show the glaring contrast between a life confined to urban jungles and 8 days fully engaged by primal wilderness.
“What we strive to do is to inspire individuals to make that transition from sedentary lifestyle to a more healthy active one through reconnecting with the outdoors,” Mills writes on Kickstarter. “It is ‘Rude’ in the manner regarding the rugged approach in which we choose to conduct our journey.”
Himself prompted by the adventurous spirit of travels, Mills said he got the idea for this audacious journey when he encountered a pair of intercontinental travelers stuck in the Saline Valley with a flat tire. “While we stopped to see what we could help with, we met an inspiring couple who had just begun an overland journey in their truck from San Fransisco down the Pan-am Highway to the southern most tip of South America,” Mills wrote in an email exchange. “Although I don’t have the time in my life at this point to do something to that scale, this recent contact with these people truly inspired me to start doing things of my own…baby steps right?”
A fitness buff studying geography at UCLA this former U.S. Marine wants to blend his interests in athletics and the outdoors into one big adventure. “Although I don’t have time to cross two continents, I figured what the hell? Why not run across one of the largest national parks in the United States?” he said.
The plan is to take just over a week to traverse Death Valley running about 23 miles a day. With little previous experience, save for a 31-mile training run through Joshua Tree National Park, Mills said this expedition is hardly a race and he’s not out to set any kind of record.
“The point is to travel across the entirety of a national park encountering many of the amazing physical features Death Valley has to offer hoping to make a connection with those who follow me, as well as having the opportunity to overcome my own physical boundaries,” he said.
Along the way Mills plans to record the experience on camera with the intension of creating a short film. Despite the difficult of the trip he hopes that those who follow along online will be inspired to explore the possibility of creating a similar journey of their own.
“My team and I are putting a lot of time and effort into this to try and impact as many lives as we can,” Mills said. “If we can positively affect one person’s life through this experience, I will consider this expedition a success!”
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