Today’s guest knows first hand how much of a difference running can make.
In 2010, she set out to run across the USA in an effort to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis.
That effort led to her founding MS Run the US, which is an annual relay to run across the United States in support of the fight against MS.
I am looking forward to running some easy miles with Ashley Schneider, the lady that started it all.
Born With A Love For Running
For as long as Ashley Schneider can remember, she has always loved running.
Her first formal introduction to the sport was when she was in elementary school.
Once in high school, Ashley joined the cross country team.
That was her first experience being around others that loved running as much as she did.
Along with running, she was also a competitive soccer player.
Ashley remained committed to athletics while in college and was a member of both the soccer team and the track and field team.
Along with competing for her school on various teams, she also ran a few half marathons while in college.
Perks Of The Job
Post-graduation, Ashley’s first job was working on a cruise ship that traveled around the world.
At each port, Ashley took the opportunity to run and explore the area.
She found that she loved seeing the various cities while running.
It dawned on Ashley how little of the United States she had actually seen during one of her runs.
This was how the seed was first planted for her idea to run across the U.S.
The dots began to quickly connect when Ashely focused on a cause that is close to her heart.
Finding Her Purpose
Ashley has always been acutely aware of how fortunate she is to have a healthy and strong body.
Before she was even born, Ashley’s mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or MS.
For her entire life, she has witnessed her mom slowly lose her ability to be independent and mobile.
Ashley wanted to combine her love of running with raising money and awareness to fight MS.
The idea for MS Run the US was born and Ashley wasted no time on planning the logistics.
Ashley relies on the power of positive thinking when approaching any big idea.
She focused on what she could do at the moment to get her one step closer to her goal.
Thinking her way to success and then following up with action is how Ashley made her vision a reality.
Ironing Out the Wrinkles
The inaugural year of MS Run the US was not without challenges.
On March 22, 2010, Ashley took her first steps of many as she began her trek across the US.
Physically the challenge was seamless and she was able to accomplish her goal without any injuries.
In hindsight, she realized how much she underestimated certain areas of the challenge the first year.
Crewing is a selfless act and some of her relationships were forever altered after the challenge.
The route wasn’t ideal and required some changes to be made in the future.
Injury Free Across the U.S.
Running across the U.S. required Ashley to average 24 miles a day 6 days a week for 6 months.
In that time, she walked away with only 2 blisters and zero injuries.
She attributes her injury-free run to various factors.
Ashley had been running for most of her life when she undertook the challenge and therefore had a huge mileage base.
Having the right equipment is not only important, but it is crucial to success.
She had 12 pairs of shoes which she rotated on a daily basis.
Breaking up the daily mileage into 2 runs helped Ashley both mentally and physically.
Ashley made sure to always try to focus on her purpose and just as importantly having fun.
More Powerful Together
Along with raising awareness for MS, Ashley had a goal of raising 500k for her run across the U.S.
Though she failed at meeting her fundraising goal, she did manage to still raise 50k.
It didn’t take long for Ashley to realize that involving others would exponentially increase the success.
What was a lofty fundraising goal for one individual, would be much easier to reach collectively as a group.
Ashley realized that very few people could commit 6 months to run across the country and yet a lot of people wanted to get involved.
A relay-style challenge began to take shape with the first year in that format occurring in 2013.
A team of 19 people would each run a segment that would involve running 6 marathon distances over 6 consecutive days.
There is a fundraising minimum of 10k for each person on the team.
Doing Their Best
The pandemic altered when/how events occurred and MS Run the US was no different.
Last year the event had to be canceled, but that didn’t stop the team from fundraising and setting their own goals.
Each runner on the team did whatever they could from home in whatever capacity they were able.
The entire team still gave their all given the unique circumstances.
The 2021 event is scheduled to take place as usual with covid safety protocols in place.
Momentum has been shifting in the last few years, making the selection process even more competitive.
The MS Run the US team consists of 19 members, and there are always more applicants than places available.
Applications are always open online with the selection process taking place each summer.
Ashley and her team of coaches reviews each application and interviews each individual.
The official team is announced in October of each year.
There is also an Ambassador program for people that want to get involved, but may not be ready to commit to the run across the US.
The entire program has always been by word of mouth with zero advertising.
MS Run the US has grown over the years to consist of a close-knit group of people that are truly committed to the cause.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- MS Run The U.S.
- Ambassador Program
- Instagram MS Run the US page
- Twitter MS Run the US page
- Facebook MS Run the US page
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