Buena Vista – The blue line on the map ambles across California, Arizona, New Mexico and part of Colorado. There, it’s intercepted by a red line that stretches eastward from the center of the state clear to the Atlantic Ocean.
This is the route of Buena Vista resident Jim Shiew, a 70-year-old Army veteran who’s running across the country to raise money for his fellow veterans and soldiers.
The blue line signifies the 1,330 miles Shew has already run. The red line shows the 2,000 miles to come.
“It gives you a different perspective on everything,” Shiew said.
Shiew began his journey in January when he dipped his toes in the Pacific Ocean and began running westward from Solana Beach, Calif. He averages about 13 miles a day, mileage that’s helped him slim down considerably in the nearly 3 months since he started.
His arduous undertaking has already raised “a couple thousand” for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a Florida nonprofit that supports the military’s special operations forces and their families.
Many people donate after seeing Shiew running and learning about his mission, he said. Most donate directly to the foundation. None of Shiew’s expenses are being reimbursed by the nonprofit, so some donate to him.
“I’ve met a lot of nice people,” Shiew said.
Shiew has had many memorable moments on the road. While running through Santa Clara Indian Reservation in New Mexico, two girls gave him a case of bottled water. Later that same day, a man flagged him down and donated some money. The man turned out to be the children’s father.
“You run into things like that all the time,” Shiew said.
Shiew has spanned desolate desert, mountain passes, old mining towns. Those landscapes have been interesting, he said. Other terrain, not so much.
“Some roads, it’s so tedious I count the yellow stripes,” he said.
Tedium has so far been the worst part. The weather has held out, good camping spots have been abundant, and his knees are staying strong thanks to thick-soled Hoka trainers.
Shiew is resting up in Buena Vista this week. He can be spotted around town in his two support vehicles, the colors of the flag hand-painted on each.
If all goes according to plan, Shiew expects to conclude his trek in Virginia Beach, Va., by October or November.
Shiew uses a two-car system.
Shiew is running solo, so he came up with a two-vehicle system to stand in for third-party support. One vehicle is driven to a starting point a couple miles away from the other car, then Shiew runs from one car to the other, drives back to the first car, and repeats the process all over again.
The cars will leapfrog each other across the country, allowing Shiew to progress unaided.
Shiew says the system is working well and has some benefits.
“I never run uphill and I never run against the wind,” Shiew said.
So what does Shiew think about when he spend hours each day running? “I like to invent things and solve problems.”
The Chaffee County Times in Buena Vista is published by Arkansas Valley Publishing Co., the parent company of The Mountain Mail, owned by Merle Baranczyk of Salida.