Dora grad aims for global running record
Former Ozark County resident and 2013 Dora High School graduate Dustin Johnson could become the first American ever to circumnavigate the globe by running. If he is successful in his current endeavor, Dustin will also be the youngest, the fastest 20- to 29-year-old, and the fastest overall to complete this arduous 16,300-mile journey across four continents. He will also be the first to complete the trip solo, without any support crew following him.
His journey is about more than just setting records. The 24-year-old Navy veteran has dedicated his world run to bringing positive awareness to military and veteran suicide, now estimated at 22 a day in the United States. He has teamed up with Stop Soldier Suicide, a veteran-led non-profit organization, to spread the word and help prevent military suicide.
Dustin, who now lives in Lambert, Missouri, started his journey on May 1 in Benton, between Cape Girardeau and Sikeston. From there he ran 930.11 miles to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he caught the first of two flights that would take him to Lima, Peru.
As if running around the world without a support crew isn’t enough, he had to pare down his meager supplies at the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) airport to meet Peru’s one-carryon bag limit. Until he reaches the city where the rest of his gear was shipped to, he has only clothes, electronics and a sleeping bag stowed in a wheeled cart that he pushes as he runs. (He got special permission from Peruvian officials and paid $100 to ship the cart.) He buys food and supplies when he can. Finding places that accept MasterCard is another major challenge as Dustin he passes through rural areas.
In his June 24 (Day 54/55) blog post (racearoundtheworld.run) from Peru, Dustin wrote that he had completed 1,378.1 total miles. Locals he has met in Peru have shared a “major warning” that he is approaching the “dead center of the area with the world’s largest puma population,” he wrote.
Sleeping in only a sleeping bag with no tent, he knows he is “very vulnerable to the weather, animals, and anything else out here. . . . I leave it up to God and every angel up there watching over me to keep me safe!” he wrote.
He plans to run 3,200 miles across South America before flying to Portugal for the 4,000-mile run across Europe. Then he will run 3,500 miles across Australia and another 1,000 miles in New Zealand. Finally, he will fly to Alaska and make the 4,000-mile run back to his Missouri home. He said in a Myrtle Beach television interview that he hopes to finish his run on Christmas Day 2020.
His mother, Tina Johnson, said Dustin always has to be moving to the east to count the miles toward his total goal.
Running all day (his current goal is 30 miles each day), sometimes eating only a few slices of bread and spending the night beside the road with nothing but a sleeping bag might sound like an impossible task, but Dustin has already proved he has the strength and determination to overcome challenges. In the introduction to his blog,” he wrote, “During my time in the Navy I was awarded Sailor of the Year, Plane Captain of the Year, and Sailor of the Year for my Carrier Air Group. While I was in High School I found out running the world was ‘a thing,’ ever since then I’ve been obsessed with it.”
Besides his obsession with running, Dustin is passionate about his support for fellow veterans who are struggling. He ends many of his blog posts with a special note to “my vets.” On June 15, he wrote, “Take your struggles and give them to me. Let me carry them for you and place them at the highest mountains and lowest valleys so you’ll never have them again. Let me carry our baggage and I’ll deliver it to places that you never have to worry about them finding you again. Have faith in me that I care for you.”
To follow Dustin’s journey, read his blog and join the “Dustin Johnson’s World Record Run” group on Facebook. Donations to support Dustin’s effort can be sent to his PayPal account with the email firstname.lastname@example.org. T-shirts are also available for sale through the Facebook page to help with his food and personal expenses.
Stop Soldier Suicide serves all service members, veterans and military families. For help or for more information about the organization, call 844-889-5610 or visit stopsoldiersuicide.org.