By Ben Streeter and Jeremy Schaefer
Jeremy: Our trip will begin when we leave Vermont on November 1st for Saint Helena Island on the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, roughly a thousand miles from home. From there, I will begin running on foot, trying to average about 50 miles a day. The planned route is 3,141 miles across the southern US and ending in San Francisco, taking Ben and I roughly three and a half months to complete.
Ben: We are doing this run in support of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Both Jeremy and I have been diagnosed with mental illness and in this day and age it seems to be a subject people don’t want to talk about, or are afraid to talk about. We hope to start a few positive discussions with people. Jeremy and I are using what we’ve got—my Mini and Jeremy’s feet—and seeing just how far they can take us. Mental illness isn’t the end of the road—with proper medical attention and knowledge of the illness there is a world of possibilities out there. We hope people will see us, know they are not alone, and maybe feel a sense of hope and inspiration!
I’m driving the support Mini. Most of the time we will be camping out, sleeping in the confines of the van, removing the seats of course at night. The van will also carry all of the equipment necessary to complete the run. My girlfriend who is an RN has instructed me on sports medicine techniques.
Jeremy: Running for me is an affordable form of therapy. Being outside for countless hours on foot suits me perfectly. Seeing everything as it is, on its own time, and being a part of the bigger picture is what matters most to me.
This trip represents the best life has to offer. It gives me a chance to be with my best friend, experience new people and places, to physically challenge myself, and to do it all for a great cause. Who could ask for a better adventure! I can’t wait!
Ben: Working on cars is one of the few things that makes sense to me; everything about them is straight forward, and at no point does it ever talk back or view you as a failure. Bringing cars back to life is my way of coping with reality and the stresses of life. It truly helps keep me grounded.
I was hooked on Minis already at age 14. At first it was just for fun, but I quickly fell head over heels. With help from my father I bought a 1967 Austin Mini 850. I spent two years restoring it and had it ready for prom. After that the obsession only grew and now I have three Minis, including the 1980 Panel Van that I will use to follow Jeremy on his run across the country.
After high school, I pursued a career in engine building and precision machining. I’m now in the restoration business in Vermont, working primarily on vintage British cars.
Jeremy: Although this trip is far beyond anything I’ve done before, I’m no stranger to endurance running. I’ve competed in numerous 100, 50-mile and marathon races and countless other foot races of varying distances. I run anywhere from 100 to 120 miles weekly, and cycle around 240 miles every week as well.
Ben: I met Jeremy six years ago and we’ve been close friends ever since, working on this trip and the panel van together has brought us even closer. This trip and him have both become a big part of my life and so far it’s just the beginning.
Check out Ben and Jeremy’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PrettyBigRun
And to learn more about mental illnesses, visit www.nami.org