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Father-son team at halfway mark ‘Running the Country’

Brett, David, and Kris Wilcox on the run. The jogging stroller holds the provisions for their 20-mile days. (Russell Youngberg photo)

Brett, David, and Kris Wilcox on the run. The jogging stroller holds the provisions for their 20-mile days. (Russell Youngberg photo)

Most people will never run 1,700 miles in their lives. Brett and David Wilcox have run 1,700 miles since January, and they still have a long way to go.

The father-son team from Sitka is running across the country to raise awareness about genetically-modified-organisms — or GMO’s — prevalent in the American diet.

The runners are in Parsons, Kansas, a little beyond the halfway point of their journey from Huntington Beach, California, to Atlantic City, New Jersey.

KCAW’s Robert Woolsey caught up with the Wilcoxes by phone, to find out how things are going.

Brett Wilcox is 53 years old. After running 20 miles each day, he takes a nap in the family’s camper.

If there’s a wi-fi signal, though, his 15 year old son and running partner, David, has to do his schoolwork online.

“It’s totally unfair. Yes. Kris and I quit our jobs to do this, so it does seem like a little bit of a walk in the park for us. But the flip side is that we’re having to deal with the financial burdens.”

Brett and his wife Kris have been planning this trip for months. The run across America started on January 18 from the Pacific side of the continent. Their younger daughter, Olivia, and dog Angel, round out the support team.

The team has grown along the way.

“And we now have a new dog, Jenna, that we picked up in Dalhart, Texas. So imagine two parents, two teenagers, two dogs, living in this small trailer. It makes for living the way our grandparents may have done on a small farm in a home. And we’re together all the time.”

When they’re not running that is. Brett and David are on the road six days a week, putting in 20 miles a day.

Read the Wilcox’s Running the Country blog.

Including schoolwork, David says it is like having a full-time job. And for a sport that requires little but shoes, the shoes are taking a beating.

“I’ve finished three pairs, but I’ve only worn out two.”

David and his dad spent some time early in the trip running on interstates, but the route lately has been two-lane highways, which can have a lot of traffic. He says people often stop to offer them rides. And sometimes they call the authorities.

In the past few days, three or four policemen have stopped to see about our baby in the stroller.
KCAW – Baby in a stroller?
David – We carry the stroller for our gear. And when Jenna — our dog — is tired we can put her in the stroller and push her until she wants to run again.
KCAW – Okay…
David – People think we’re taking a baby somewhere.

The Wilcox family began their run in January. Brett says that after 1,700 miles  he's starting to feel run down, while David is getting stronger.

The Wilcox family began their run in January. Brett says that after 1,700 miles he’s starting to feel run down, while David is getting stronger.

Interacting with people, though, is what this adventure is all about. For example, David and Olivia spoke to a youth church group while in Parsons, Kansas. In Wichita, the family gave a presentation at a Natural Foods store. Kris calls ahead in the itinerary to set up events and interviews. People have been receptive to their message, but they haven’t been swamped by media requests.

At home in Alaska, the family eats as much organic food as possible, and as much non-GMO food as possible. Brett says traveling across the country — from a culinary perspective — can be discouraging.

“Living in Sitka it’s much easier to get the foods that we would like to eat, than running through America’s heartland, which seems kind of strange. But we can go two- or three-hundred miles without being able to find an organic loaf of bread.”

“Going through some of these small towns, there are no choices,” says Kris Wilcox. She hit a low point in Gallup, New Mexico.

“I went into a Wal-Mart a month or so ago and got angry, because I wanted to feed my family. And there were tons of food there, but nothing that I could get for them. We wanted something quick and easy, and ended up getting bananas. And I wanted them to have a meal.”

Kris says the warmest surprise of the trip was dining at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Wichita. The chain serves a non-GMO menu. When the managment learned that the Wilcoxes were running across the country to spread the word about genetically-modified-organisms in our diet, the meal was served on the house.

Their next stop is a spring planting festival in Mansfield, Missouri, which could be attended by as many as 7,000 people. The Wilcoxes hope to arrive in Atlantic City by mid-July.

David Wilcox says he’s already looking forward to getting back to Sitka and trying out for the high school Cross Country team.

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