96-year-old veteran is on a mission to become the oldest person to run coast-to-coast and back again
[Aug. 15, 2020: Joseph Shavit]
Ernie Andrus, who turns 97 next week, is still on his march across the country.
In 2016, Ernie became the oldest person ever to run across America. “I did it once. I finished my run from the Pacific to the Atlantic one day after my 93rd birthday. "
He started his return journey in Georgia on March 16th, 2019. "After a couple of years of running in the same place I got a little bored and decided to go back the other way”, he said.
“I’ve been running ever since I was born. My mother said I stood up at like eight months and I didn’t walk, I ran."
Now a year into the return trip, he is outside Lufkin, Texas, plodding along slow and steady, as usual — albeit slightly slower — and noticeably less steady.
A few weeks ago, a doctor diagnosed Ernie with congestive heart failure. "Yea, that's what they told me... I'll run 'til I drop.... I always said I'll die with my running shoes on."
A run for a cause
Ernie's motivation comes from his sailoring past. During World War II, he served on a ship referred to as an LST, and he is been running to raise money and awareness for the LST Memorial in Evansville, Indiana.
“This shouldn’t be forgotten.”
He also hopes to inspire other seniors to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
The end of the journey... Or is it?
Despite his recent diagnoses, Ernie hopes to reach his finish line in San Diego, California by August 2023 around his one hundredth birthday.
Let’s say you make it to California; will that be the end of your running journey?
“No, I have a plan for a coast-to-coast relay,” Ernie responded with fun.
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What can we learn?
Like the story about the "Boy, 9, with cerebral palsy completes marathon on his walker, half a mile at a time.", heroes come in all ages and sizes. Inspirational and aspirational stories, like these, teach us that the only thing keeping us from greatness is desire and effort. We all have it in us!