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Trio runs from Boston to Austin for charity

Log your runs and rides with MapMyFITNESS apps

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com
Rusty Tolliver, left, and Rhys Jenkins arrive at the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue on Auditorium Shores Nov. 26 after running from Boston to Austin. Jenkins' brother Scott arrived later in the day. At top, Rhys Jenkins gets a hug from Tolliver's mother, Debbie Arredondo. The three friends ran to raise money for American and British charities.

And on the 73rd day, Rusty Tolliver wrapped up his 2,000-mile run from Boston to Austin.

"Now what?" he asked, after slowing to a stop in front of the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue on Auditorium Shores, where a small cheering band of friends and family awaited his arrival at 2:45 p.m. Nov. 26.

He hugged his mom, embraced his girlfriend and clasped Rhys Jenkins, one of two British brothers from Wales who ran with him. The other brother, Scott Jenkins, finished later the same day.

The trio started their epic run Sept. 15 in Boston. They averaged about 35 miles a day and took every eighth day off to rest.

They turned the run into a fundraiser and raised a collective $10,000 for four charities — Young Texans Against Cancer, Help for Heroes, the British Heart Foundation and Salute America's Heroes.

Tolliver, 24, a high school track and cross-country athlete from Bastrop, chose Young Texans Against Cancer as one of the beneficiaries of the run because his mother is a two-time cancer survivor. He also dedicated the last 198 miles of his run to a former teacher, Thea Williams, an executive producer at KVUE 24 News who died of breast cancer in late September.

During the run, Tolliver caught a stomach bug, got chased by dogs and saved a raccoon that had gotten its head stuck in a peanut butter jar. He says he learned "when you put your mind to something and you really want it, there's nothing that can really stop you."

Remarkably, the runners had no real problems along the way, save some rainy weather in Pennsylvania, strong winds in Texas and several persistent cases of shin splints. They stayed in hotels and with people they met, and camped one night.

"Living one day with cancer is worse than running 2,000 miles," Tolliver says.

Tolliver lost about 20 pounds during the journey. He carried a small American flag in his hand nearly the entire way. And he missed his girlfriend a lot.

His favorite moment?

"Right now," he said, standing in front of the statue with the Austin skyline behind him. "Being home."

Links to the charities benefiting from the run are on the runners' website at www.2000milerun.com.

Record runs, rides with mobile app

Have you tried any of the MapMyFITNESS tools?

I've been logging runs and rides all over town. It's addictive.

I signed up for MapMyRIDE, which is geared toward cyclists. There's also MapMyRUN, for runners. The basic plan for both is free, and you can log workouts of any type on either site.

MapMyRIDE lets you record your own routes via a mobile app, or measure a route you've been using on your computer screen. It tells you how far, how fast and how much hill climbing you did along the way, and how many calories you burned while doing it. It also allows you to search for running or cycling routes when you visit another city. It's a whole social community for fitness-minded people.

"It's a tool to help motivate you to work out and see where you are relative to others," says Robin Thurston, CEO of MapMyFITNESS, which just moved its corporate headquarters from Denver to Austin.

It's not without flaws.

The first time I tried to use my iPhone to record my commute, it cut corners and just quit recording my route about a mile from the finish, even though I still had plenty of battery left in my iPhone. It showed my 7.38-mile ride as a 5.5-mile ride.

Thurston suggested I reset the network settings on my 3G iPhone. I did and it worked. Newer model iPhones should not have this problem, he says.

Once your route is recorded, the app automatically gives you an elevation profile. Members can pay for upgraded memberships that include training plans and other perks.

Another cool feature? The tool updates your position by GPS every 3 seconds, so friends who join the MapMyFITNESS community can "watch" you live, via the computer, while you bike or run. That could be handy, say, if you're doing an event like the LiveStrong Challenge. It's sort of like having the Marauder's Map from the "Harry Potter" series.

Worrywart spouses could also track your progress on your commute home from work, too. (Note to self: Do not stop for beers at Shoal Creek Saloon if husband is tracking my ride home from work.)

About 2.2 million people use the tool. Most are runners, followed by cyclists.

Users can form groups, add events to a calendar, get race results or find running or cycling partners. If you see a route you like, there's a way to message that route's creator, too. You can even set a "ghost pacer" so you can race against a virtual partner.

"We're trying to empower people to record and understand physical activity in general," Thurston says.

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994