I’m not sure how many people are still receiving updates from this website, but regardless, I hope this message finds you all well! Just to give you an update, both Zac and I are doing great. Zac is currently in Flagstaff serving in a church called Redemption Flagstaff, and working as a Pharmaceutical Rep for AstraZeneca. I recently got married and am with my wife, Jenny Bell (formerly Dorazio) in Fort Collins, CO. I have answered God’s call on my life to go into full time ministry and have joined staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) and will be reporting with Jenny to the University of Arizona as soon as we finish raising support. Please keep us in prayer that we would allow ourselves to feel the full weight of His love for us and for the students that we will be sent to. Also pray for a quick support raising process. UofA is in serious need of full time staff, as they are literally down to one full time staff and a part time intern for a nearly 100 strong student movement. Love you all and will keep you posted!
We did it. The last day was amazing. I don’t want to close the lid on this journey just yet. We have still so much left to say within this next week and more to post. Although the race is over, the journey is not. Paul and I just got done playing a round of frisbee golf up in Abbotsford, British Columbia with my cousin Jeremy at their tree farm. We are recovering and relaxing as we are still processing the trip. So bear with us this next week as we slowly emerge back into society, while we finish posting the last of the photos and videos to share with you all. We will also take some time to recap the trip and explain what it meant to us individually. I still feel that no matter how much time goes by, we may never know the extent to how this trip was used to bless others. Also, we will be flying back into Phoenix on the 12th of August at around 9 pm. We would love to see our friends and family, and whoever else that would like to come welcome us back. As the time approaches I will fill you in on more of the details. So keep checking the site this next week to hear and see more about the end of our trip.
Wish you could be there as we cross into Canada? Wanna celebrate with us but just don’t know how? Can’t stop wishing you had of came with us up the coast? Losing sleep over all these unanswered questions? Well don’t go visit your psychiatrist just yet. Cause you can be there with us and celebrate!
Follow us on our website (www.blessthecoast.com) and on facebook this Friday between 11:00-2:00. There will be updates and photos streaming throughout that time. We will be starting our last run of this trip at 11:00 am pacific time and ending within the next 3 hours. This Friday, August 7th. Be thinking and praying for us as we cross the border at 2:00 pm.
New photos, blogs, and updates to come. The time is finally here as we close the final chapter in this journey and we complete our run from Mexico to Canada. If you still haven’t read the blogs or even know what we are doing, then educate yourself. Check the website out!
The transition from Oregon to Washington was one of extremes. Our 4 day stay with the Phillips in their house just outside of Portland was both incredibly fun and short lived. It seemed no sooner had we arrived than we were packing up our belongings early on the morning of our departure from the Portland area.
As one of the highlights of the trip, Portland proved to be one of the coolest cities I have ever seen. Riding the gondola, exploring downtown and experiencing some of the local bookstores and coffee houses were just a couple of the many adventures Cameron and Mallory took us on. All a prelude to the beginning to the most difficult and demanding stretches of the entire trip. I wish I was exaggerating for the sake of an exciting story, but there had not yet been a point along the trip where we had questioned the ability to complete the run on time until now.
As Zac described, we have eliminated rest days and shortened some of the runs to minimize our heat exposure. What you did not hear is how we arrived at this decision.
Our trek towards Washington began just as any of the other runs had started, an early morning and light traffic greeted us as we set out to conquer the Columbia. Within a few hours, the sun had burned away any remaining traces of fog or haze and what remained was much like running on a lava plain with no shade other than the occasional grouping of trees which we longed would last. The scorching heat wasn’t like Phoenix heat which I would describe as being grilled on a barbecue. No this heat was like being inside of a microwave, leaving us feeling almost claustrophobic from the stifling and stagnant air. Our 8 litres of water was rapidly depleted as we struggled to stay hydrated.
Then came the test. Our final mile and a half was the bridge that passed into Longview/ Kelso. Once again, the shoulder disappeared, the road ahead of us ascended into a steep climb, and the heat was on. Our path was cluttered with tons of debris from all the local logging trucks dropping large chunks of bark. I found myself struggling just to keep the baby jogger from shooting out into traffic. “Zac, I think this is our only chance to get a picture of us entering Washington. Let’s get a picture!” I cautiously handed Zac the camera, not wanting to stop moving for fear of fully realizing the gravity of the situation we had put ourselves in. I don’t think I’ve ever gripped the baby jogger that tight. A couple of shots of the sign “Entering Washington” and a couple of the mighty Columbia hundreds of feet below us fulfilled our need to document our “safe” passage into our next and final state.
For us, it was a bit of a dissappointment to realize that we had more runs to do. We had gone from having 9 runs to complete to 10, which may not sound like a big deal, but it was a huge accomplishment just to get down to the single digits of remaining legs.
But our dissappointment like many things on this trip was short lived. There is just to much adventure and unknown to really worry about the future. When we focus on the day at hand, it always seems that the day passes before we even have time to appreciate it. Our good friend Babe shared some pretty insightful wisdom with us that has been rolling around in my head since we left her home back in Eugene. Those of us who have grown up in or around church have always heard about trusting in Christ, about not worrying. It was a phrase that somehow for me had almost lost its reality through its repetition. Babe told me that faith and worry cannot exist simultaneously. They are not only opposites, they are fiercely opposed to one another, and if I find myself worrying, it should always be a reminder to remember who it is who I trust. Immovable, unshakable, sovereign and loving; that is the One whom I follow. It is not faith in faith that empowers us, but drawn directly from his Spirit that moves us daily.
It was this strength that took us to our next stop, one we had been looking forward to since we learned about it. Tucked away in the forests near Tacoma Washington is headquarters of the boating and watersport company “Active Watersports”. Set upon a beautiful man made lake, our afternoon was a much needed day of relaxation, as we would watch wakeboarders zip by just feet from the house. Although we opted out of spending the day out on the lake wakeboarding and waterskiing, the family understood that after running 20+ miles we were a tad short of energy. Early to bed and early to rise put us back out on the road, as we were yet to encounter our next obstacle, or should I say, adversary.
Now in all of our other runs, through many a rural setting we had always been wary of stray dogs. We had been lucky to not encounter any along any other stretch of road, but for some reason, I think the majority of rural Washington enjoys leaving their dogs in their frontyards. Our run from the lake took us past a number of dogs who seemed to be rather interested, or should I say angry at our running. One encounter was particularly unnerving in which Zac and I fought off a pretty aggressive dog who would have probably enjoyed our hamstrings for breakfast. Fortunately, swift feet prevented us from being dog food for the morning.
I will bring you all further up to date in my next post, which I promise will be much sooner than the last! Keep praying, we are just 3 days away!
I love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Its crazy how two so different products, come together in such peaceful and beautiful harmony. I haven’t gotten to eat a whole lot of them though, being out here on the road. You would think that would be just the opposite. It’s funny what people assume about us. Some hosts think we have been having pasta every night, so we never eat pasta. Some think we drink Gatorade every day, but I’ve only had it once on this trip. And on the other spectrum of things, some people we come across think we are incredibly holly or spiritual, and can only be communicated to through scripture. Treating us as if we were a We have definitely had our share of assumptions about us.
The other day I was making myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But there was a major problem. The peanut butter was almost gone. Don’t you hate that? Well, I guess it depends on what type of PB and J person you are. Light PB, heavy jelly. Heavy PB, and heavy jelly. Light and light. Which type of jelly? Crunchy or smooth PB? The possibilities seem endless. I remember as a teenager a friends mom asked me what type of PBJ person I was before making my sandwich. My reply, dazed and intrigued, was “I didn’t know I had a choice. This opens so many new doors and opportunities to me!”
So obviously the best option for my predicament was to spread the PB on the entire face of the bread, leaving no lumps or hills. It was spread so thin. And I’m a heavy PB type of person. Then you have to obviouslycompensate with the jelly, cause then you wouldn’t want too much. Don’t let that jelly take over the sandwich. But I got through it. Wishing I had more PB.
In the last week, my amount of energy has been that of the PB. Scraping around the sides and edges of the jar, its been a challenge to find enough. And still, knowing you have searched everywhere for just enough, you fall short and are spread thin. Up here in the Pacific Northwest, there have been records being shattered all week. Records you don’t particularly like seeing broken, especially if you are running 30 miles a day. From around Corvallis, Oregon to Rochester, Washington (about a week long amount of time), Paul and I have been in very hot weather. Highs have been around 106 degrees, and seem to get hotter. Evidently a heat wave has been coming through the region, and taking a huge toll on us physically. More importantly, it then affects us mentally, and spiritually. Drains our energy and is discouraging.
Just when we were rounding the corner, almost able to see the finish line in sight, we have been tripped up and wondering what to do. Now, I know back in Phoenix, its about 10 degrees hotter, and some of you may be thinking “Come on guys, you are from Phoenix and know this type of weather”. But this heat is very different from the dry heat we experience. It is humid, muggy, the air is still, it clings to you like saran wrap, and looms overhead like a pesky fly. Also, you have to remember that we have been on the coast for the past 2 months, becoming accustomed to the breezy cool weather, where it never rose above 70 degrees. Being outside for 5+ hours while running 30 miles in this weather is down right dangerous.
It may have faltered our steps for a few yards, but it has not made us fall. We have changed our last 11 days and deviated from our schedule. Instead of taking two more scheduled rest days, we have chosen to run on these days so it lowers the average miles for each day. We have also shortened the first 6 runs because of the heat. Hopefully by the time the weather changes, we will then have a little longer runs on the last 5 days to finish out our journey. (As I write this, we have already completed 3 of these runs, and have 8 left). The average will now be 25 miles, and we will have to run the next 11 days in a row to arrive on August 7th. The logistics of this trip are daunting but very crucial. It is going to be a challenge all the way up to the finish line. The most important thing is that we get replenished in more ways than one.
I think all of us have three containers deep within our being that hold the drive and passion that ignites our soul and life. One is cardboard, the other Tupperware, and lastly a glass pitcher. The cardboard box contains tea bags, sugar in the Tupperware, and iced water fills the pitcher. To make refreshing tea (I’m not talking southern sweet tea, cause if I were, we would just add a little tea and water to that sugar), you have to know the right amounts of each to add together. Too much or too littler of one can throw off the entire drink. Not to mention you have to have enough of each as well. If you run out, then it’s off to the store or over to your neighbors for some sugar. The same is true for us.
Deep within we need to be replenished. For us on this trip, Paul and I have to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically strengthened. Without all of these being built up and restored, we cannot go on another day. We must be concious also of how much we pour ourselves out into others. Like serving iced tea to a group of people, you can quickly run out, thus depleting the ingredients and relying on other sources to substitute in to make the drink. Again, the same is true for ourselves. If we are not getting poured into, in these areas, we quickly become tired and worn out. Looking to other areas and ways to meet the demands and needs of others and ourselves. But it doesn’t always mix well. We can see this played out in missionaries, pastors, and even us. If we are constantly serving and pouring into others, who will pour into us?
Physically, I have done everything in my power to get rest each day and let my muscles recover and repair. It has worked good so far. Emotionally I have been really encouraged and loved on by others. Which has also been an amazing thing. Lifting my spirits and giving me joy. But honestly, it hasn’t been all that easy to keep going even with these areas fulfilled. If we rely too heavily on what the world can give us, we will fail. Spiritually it has been a struggle. Somehow, people we stay with and meet seem certain that we are brimming to the top withoverwhelming faith and spiritual joy. Umm… I wish. Don’t we all wish, that at every moment we could just obtain that. We can though, it’s just a matter of how much we actually want it. I’ve too heavily relied on what comes easy to obtain. Sugar and water come easy to produce and get (just like my emotional and physical needs), but tea is precious. It takes time and effort to produce correctly. From the growing, cultivating, collecting, drying, and so on. Like tea, our spirits need care and time. Afterall, without tea, its just sugar water.
P.S. We are almost half way up Washington. Booya!
Oregon has been everything we could have hoped for, and then some. Between the weather, the people and the beauty of the landscape, Zac and I are hardpressed to determine any place a more gorgeous location to run. And if it were not enough, some of the things that we have been able to experience have left us awestruck at the power that befalls divine appointment.
When we ran into Coos Bay a week ago, the idea of seeing Steve Prefontaine’s hometown was a much anticipated stop. Zac was directing us around the downtown area trying to locate a statue that he had seen on one of his other Oregon journeys. Not a moment after we had finished setting up our camera on our baby jogger/ tripod, a guy named about our age came briskly walking towards us. “Hey guys, I was just wondering if you would like some food or anything to drink?” Zac and I looked at each other in a slightly perplexed yet amiable manner. Zac replied, “Thanks man, but we’re ok,” thinking that the man may have assumed we were homeless. “Well I work over at Cafe 101 and we were told to watch for you guys coming into town.” Then it clicked, the local Christian coffee shop was a ministry of the local church in Bandon and it appeared that our arrival was eagerly expected. Luke led us over to the cafe and they hooked us up…. big time. We got to talk with one of the directors of the church and even discussed our journey with some of the customers who all were very interested in our trek.
As we shared some of our stories and experiences, our conversations were overheard by a woman sitting just across the room from us named Tracy. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to evesdrop but I’m a freelance writer for Runner’s World and I think that what you guys are doing is just awesome. When you finish your meals, would you guys mind if I interviewed you?” I probably had a piece of lettuce just about fall out of my gaping mouth. Runner’s World? Are you serious? Needless to say we had an awesome time sharing some of our stories and the logistics of the trip with Tracy. Now before I get a bunch of responses to this post asking, “well when is the article going to be in the magazine?” I must remind you readers that there are many, many writers for Runner’s World, and that only a select number of articles are admitted to the actual magazine. But what I do find out, I will relay on this site to keep people up to speed. As for right now, pray that God gives Tracy the right words and that the editors at Runner’s World approve her article so that God may be glorified even more through this run!
After our luncheon interview with Tracy, Zac and I decided to go try to see some of the Prefontaine memoiribilia at the local art museum. Unfortunately when we arrived there, the museum was closed, but remember, we are two pretty determined young men. Zac went around the back of the museum and found an old buzzer. With nothing to lose, a few rings and one of the curators came to the door. After a brief explanation for the short shorts and the baby jogger, we were inside, admiring the numerous accomplishments of the late Steve Prefontaine. An experience truly worth the effort.
A few more days on the road and we had arrived at truly one of the most pivotal points of the entire trip, Eugene. I can’t tell you how many times Zac and I would sit and look over the map of the trip and say, “Man, I can’t wait to get to Eugene.” Not only did this point mark what we view as the last long stretch before finishing the run in Canada, this place eats, sleeps, and breathes running. Home of the most famous track in the world, and where the best runners go to compete and train, Zac and I were in running heaven. We also had the opportunity to stay with probably the craziest and most loving person we have ever met, so loving in fact that she refers to each of her seven children by number (you think I am kidding). There are few people who I would esteem as deserving of their own TV show, but then again, she was the only person I have ever met named Babe.
Our rest day was a much needed one with the long, hot run that we had made from Florence into Eugene the day before. The stifling still air and the pounding heat was enough to sap the energy out of me for a week, but upon reaching Eugene, Zac and I were about as excited as a child’s first visit to Disneyland. But the time here in Eugene was not all just sightseeing and fun, it was a time for lessons in life to be learned.
Prayer is a powerful thing, and it is not always right away that we see the way in which God answers. Often times it is because we cannot distinguish the things we need from the things we want, and it may even take retrospect to see the way that things are truly worked for the good of those who serve Him. But in some instances, when our will and His are aligned, we see truly the power of God in a firsthand experience. Zac and I were on our way over to the Eugene Running Company to restock on some nutrition necessities. Our prayer throughout this whole trip is that God would remain the center of our task, and that He would provide the means for us to continue. He did just that, as we were thoroughly blessed by our new found friends helping us out in ways that I would have felt almost silly asking for specifically. It can be often hard to admit that we limit God and His graciousness, but this made me realize how often I do just that in prayer. How often do Christians pray as though a beggar asking a rich man for spare change? Do we forget that we are his children? “For you did not recieve a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have recieved a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ- if in fact we suffer with him so that we may be also glorified with Him.” Romans 8:15-17Ask as a child to a loving parent, for your Father knows what we need.
If the hookups at the running store wasn’t enough, Zac and I even got to meet one of the coaches for Oregon Track Club Elite! For those of you who may not know of this running club, this was a huge honor, as OTC Elite is THE best professional track club in the entire country, and arguably, the world. Coach Mark Reinker not only showed us some of the training facilities at University of Oregon’s track, he rolled out the big guns as he let Zac and I each try the G-trainer. Basically, an anti-gravity treadmill that makes it possible for even non-runners to run at incredible speeds with little effort. If only the Jetson’s could see us now…
Pre’s rock, Hayward field, and enough of Babe’s stories to at least keep us reminiscing about the good old days well into Canada were the well needed refreshment we needed as we prepare to tackle the final weeks of bless the coast. Your prayers are more powerful than you know, and more importantly, God hears you! Thanks everyone and stay tuned! Be sure to check out some of the photos too!
Pull out your Websters Dictionary, blow the dust off the cover, open it up, and look up the word “epic”. Is there an example of the word being used while describing the Tour de France? Or a picture of Lance Armstrong and Eddy Merckx? Yeah, there isn’t in my dictionary either. But there should be.
In it’s 96th running, the Tour de France has finished the 9th stage, 21 in all, with Lance Armstrong sitting comfortably in 3rd, 8 seconds behind the leader. This race has captivated my attention and interest for a long time. The history, passion, rivalry, fans, scenery, and variation of the stages. I love watching the climbs through the Alps, where thousands of fans line the streets to cheer on the riders. Here is a bold statement, but I believe that the most crazy and intense fans are those of the Tour de France. I’d say soccer fans come in a close second. With no guard rail or fence, fans from across the world come to dress up, wave huge flags, draw all over the roads, and risk their lives to cheer on their favorite riders and countrymen. Even after camping out for days on the side of the road, fans will risk their lives by running alongside riders and through auto traffic. They’re nuts. But I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to do the same.
Like vinegar moving into oil, the riders are engulfed by fans as onlookers move out of the way at the last second. So much passion, so much emotion, the dedication and devotion that these fans pour out as they support the cyclists.
As I’ve been running, I’ve dreamed of these moments. Where somewhere between here and there, hundreds of people will stumble out of the pines along the road and start cheering. Close in around us as we run, enough to high five us and yell cheers. Lead and follow vehicles capture us with cameras as a hellicopter hovers overhead to stream live video around the world. I mean, they don’t have to have air horns, flags, signs, or be in full body paint. Okay maybe a few Zac and Paul flags and an air horn or two, but only to welcome and cheer us on. Is that too much to ask for? But I open my eyes and all I see is an empty road that stretches up hills and around corners. Cars zoom past and the familiar smell of Christmas looms in the air with countless pines surrounding the pavement. Where the only thing lining the road is trees, thick brush, mile markers, fallen branches, leaves, and road kill.
In that crowd, the ones who line the road for us, I don’t see Europeans that resemble the die hard fans of the Tour de France. I see my family. My friends, old and new. I see my relatives and people that I didn’t even know knew about my journey. I see the families that have opened up their doors, homes, and hearts to us. All of them, lining our path single file smiling. Each one holding a story of how we have touched and inspired them. I see all of our supporters and people we have met along the way. There’s the lady who worked at the storage facility. The guy riding for dog cancer research. The hippies who offered us a free 6 pack. The surfer who invented the word gnarcore. The European tourists who take photos of us from their cars. And so many others. I see you.
The point is that sometimes we all focus on how much is still ahead of us in life, and in our case our journey. And how hopeless the future may seem while going into the unknown. How lonley it feels. A seemingly empty path can become disheartening. But looking to where we have come from, where all of us have started and those that are for us, and were there with us along the way, makes where we are going so much more worth the fight to get there. Thanks for cheering for us and standing along the road as our fans.
Oregon has been an amazing chapter in our run so far. In Brookings with the Browns, our rest day was spent making armor, shields, swords, helmets, and anything else medieval out of cardboard with the kids. We even got to swim in the river where us Arizonians stool out like a sore thumb. Bobbing up and down trying to avoid the cold waters, as if we could. When we had enough, the warm sun dried us as we skipped rocks until a black lab started springing into the water each time to receive the rock and bring it back. The owners didn’t like this. We ended off our day on the coast searching tide pools for sea creatures as the sun dipped below the ocean.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the true impact we have on people or who we have impacted. Maybe at times its just to share moments and time with them. Making the people we encounter welcomed and loved. But on the beach that night, Jordin, who is 10, created a large message in the sand that really encouraged me. A seemingly small guesture spoke greatly. “I Hope Zac Walberer Comes Again”. It was so fun getting to play with and love on those kids.
Further up the coast we had other opportunities to spread our message and experience Oregon. We even got the chance to be interviewed for the Curry County Reporter in Gold Beach. Thanks Mike! Our hosts in Port Orford took us to the Curry Countyn Fair where we had a lot of fun people watching and meeting some interesting individuals. As I tried to befriend a mute ninja, Paul got the chance to play
a rhythm instrumet with a Scottish band. To top off the evening, back at the house, we had taquitos made from bear. Tastes like… well… bear.
After our stay in Crescent City, it was back on the road again, and with our faithful and trusted baby jogger. This day was especially exciting for both Zac and I because it was a pivotal transition point in the run. Although the halfway point was somewhere back around Albion, CA, this day would feel like a new chapter as we entered Oregon.
We had about a 25 miler to reach our destination in a little city called Brookings and it was a relief to have such a flat path. We took in the scenery and the livestock of some of the back roads, doing everything in our power to avoid the 101. Upon reaching the border, I was so stoked it might as well been the culmination of the trip! Although we love California, after nearly two months of steep climbs, lots of traffic, and no shoulder, we were ready to see what Oregon would have in store for us.
We took a picture with the “Welcome to Oregon” sign, and filled with new found energy, we eagerly set upon running into the city of Brookings! Now I’ve just got to say, within the first hour of being in this great state, we were first of all blown away with how friendly everyone was being toward us. Several people rolled down their windows of their vehicles in an effort to wish us safe passage and encourage us!
One of these occasions was a woman named Donna who Zac and I had the pleasure of meeting. It happened like this, as usual, the occasional passing motorist will stop and precariously look out their review mirror to see if we are toting precious cargo, i.e. a baby. A large silver truck pulled into the shoulder in front of us, forcing us to make our way around it. No sooner had we passed in front of the truck did the driver get out of her vehicle calling our attention. “Excuse me, but are you doing this for a purpose?” she asked pointing at the sign on the front of the baby jogger that states, “Mexico to Canada”. I was stoked! We hadn’t even gotten to our hosts house and already we were having opportunities to share the grand purpose behind our journey! After talking with her a bit, she told us that she was thrilled for us and asked us to keep her sister in prayer. Before we knew it, she had even pulled out her wallet and told us she wanted to support us financially! I was blown away!
After Donna left and bid us safe journey, Zac and I were near ecstatic. “I love Oregon! Instead of being stopped because drivers think we are endangering a child, people are pulling us over to support bless the coast!” Our hosts here have been amazing too. I told Rob that it is absolutely incredible that we are here in Brookings. Many months ago, Rob and his wife Morgan were the very first people to contact me about offering a place to stay for bless the coast. Now, nearly six months later, it is absolutely crazy to see how far God has brought us. But now I must go, this huge breakfast that Rob has made for us is not going to eat itself!