Effingham Daily News
EFFINGHAM — For David Wilcox of Sitka, Alaska, it’s all about the competition — but not for grades, games or sports. It’s setting a record as the second youngest person to run across the country.
“I try not to think about quitting,” he said during a stop in Effingham this week.
David started looking into the run as a young teenager after learning about other teens who had made the run across the country.
He was determined to be the first to make the run himself, going from Huntington Beach, California, all the way to Atlantic City, New Jersey, before his 16th birthday. The challenge was convincing his parents to let him.
“We’re middle class people with middle class jobs,” said Brett Wilcox, David’s father. “And doing this was going to be a big thing for us. We were going to have to quit our jobs and go on the road. We sat David down and told him if he wanted to do this, it was all on him. If he wanted to do this, we’d be in 100 percent.”
And that’s how it’s been since Jan. 20, when Brett and David took off from California, running nine miles a day for the first few days of the 3,000-mile journey before taking on 20 miles of the sun-drenched Southwest on their way to the East Coast. Keeping Brett and David going is Kris, David’s mom, and his younger sister, 13-year-old Olivia, who drive ahead of the guys in a truck and camper.
“I turned into the early bird,” Kris said. “The ideal day is we wake up, have breakfast, get them on the road, get in the car and they run for the early day, we get the trailer set up and have a meal ready on the stove.”
Once the pair reach Atlantic City, hopefully in July, David will be the second youngest person to ever make the trip and, together, he and Brett will be the first father and son team to run the country together.
But the run isn’t solely about setting records. Brett said one of the family’s primary goals is communicating the dangers of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). He and David have been handing out packets of heirloom lettuce seeds. It’s a cause Brett is passionate about, having gone so far as to write a book, “We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie” and speaking with anyone the pair come across about the dangers of genetically modified food.
“I’ve been into healthy eating for a long time and when I learned what Monsanto and other chemical companies were doing with our food, I was very upset,” he said. “It was easy to attach the GMO thing to the run. We give presentations along the way.”
In addition to running six hours a day, six days a week, David said keeping up with school work has also been a challenge.
“The hardest thing for me is after running for six hours, I still have to do school work,” he said. “On top of the running, I have to do a large enough amount of school work to stay on the goal. I’m still not close to being done.”
Running side by side has been an eye-opening experience for father and son.
“It’s incredibly important, because I’m rewriting my own family history,” Brett said. “I didn’t get along that well with my dad and 10 minutes would have been enough on any given day. Spending basically 24/7 with David and Olivia and Kris requires that we do our best to respect and be with one another.”
To read the Wilcox’s blog about the run, visit their website at http://runningthecountry.com.
Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, at jackson.adams@effinghamdaily news.com or via Twitter @EDNJAdams.