Virtual USA Mission route map

Your chance to run the entire USA in stages

Support Ben Smith by joining his Virtual USA Mission

Last month we brought you the story of Ben Smith's postponed USA Challenge to run 26.2 miles in all 50 USA state capitals, cycling between them, covering around 14,000 miles in 104 days. He is still hoping to raise £500,000 for The 401 Foundation which financially supports mental health projects, by starting the epic challenge in July 2021.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Ben, from Somerset, now has an unexpected extra 12 months to stay motivated and train hard for his challenge, which will be a stern test of stamina and resolve even for the man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days in 2015 to raise £330,000 for anti-bullying charities.

The founder of The 401 Foundation has kept himself busy by planning the delayed challenge; launching his 401 Challenge book and a great range of useful merchandise, right down to a 401 Challenge face mask, with £1 of sales being donated to NHS charities.

This latest initiative is surely the biggest virtual run challenge seen to date. Officially opened to the general public yesterday (1 July) – exactly one year ahead of the real thing – Virtual USA Mission will enable you to discover part or all of the entire USA Challenge route for as little as £10, and you can even pay that in stages!

If you have not yet dipped a toe into the virtual running world, this could be just the event for you. Full Virtual USA Mission opened in advance on 12 April and remains live until 12 October 2021, giving 18 months for runners to make their way, virtually, through all 50 US states – but this can be joined anytime if you don't mind playing catch-up.

Virtual USA Mission starts in Maine in North West USA and finishes 13,138.5 miles later with party time in Hawaii. If that's too tall an order you can opt to run one or more of the following five stages: Maine to Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania to West Virginia; West Virginia to Mississippi; Mississippi to New Mexico or New Mexico to Hawaii. 

These legs range in distance from 1,063 miles (Stage 1) to 3,657 miles (Stage 5) and are being released in...well, stages...from now until 14 September but all participants have until 12 October next year to finish, making this extraordinary event accessible to all levels. 

Looking forward to the prospect of potentially thousands of runners making their way across the USA in the virtual world, Ben said: “Today we launched our Virtual USA Mission Series that will allow you to discover the official USA Challenge route in all its glory, right here at home! This is a unique chance for you to complete parts of the route or the whole thing. With over 200 people registered already, you'll be joining a growing community of supportive individuals all currently exploring the USA."

Full details at the USA Challenge website here

Image courtesy Ben Smith/401 Challenge

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