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Runner Finishes 3,000-Mile Cross-Country Run on U.S. Route 6

This 46-year-old mother of two and musician from San Jose, Calif., just completed the first successful cross-country run on Route 6.

In 4 months, 4 days, 6 hours and 50 minutes, 46-year-old Aprylle Gilbert completed her cross-country run along U.S. Route 6 from Long Beach, Calif., to Provincetown, Mass. She started her journey on May 11 at 9 a.m. and after crossing 12 different state lines, finished on Sept. 15 at 3:50 p.m.

According to the U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association, the organization that helped sponsor Gilbert’s across-the-country trek, this is the first time anyone has completed the 3,652-mile journey on foot—let alone run it, averaging about 30 to 45 miles per day.

What motivated Gilbert to run an ultramarathon everyday for 128 days? It was an entirely selfless motive to raise money for the Washington United Youth Center, a nonprofit that provides support to disadvantaged youth in Gilbert’s hometown, San Jose, Calif.

“I hope by doing this I’m setting an example that these kids are worth going the extra mile for,” Gilbert told Wareham Week. Through her own charity website on Crowdrise and contributions made to the U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association, she raised more than $10,000.

Gilbert started running in 2012 to help her get through a tough divorce. The mother of two and folk musician eventually discovered she had a natural ability to run long distances and the hobby stuck. The most she ever ran before attempting the ambitious cross-country challenge was a half marathon.

To prepare for the run, she gradually worked her long runs up to 50 miles and ran Mission Peak in Fremont, Calif., with 3,000 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles, weekly. Turns out all the hill work Gilbert incorporated into her training helped significantly with the most challenging parts of the route.

“The high desert and wind was the hardest,” Gilbert recalls. “A lot of people thought the Rocky Mountains were going to be hard, and they were, but Nevada has these finger-like mountains that stretch out, and I went through at least 10 mountain summits between the border of California and the border of Utah, between 6,000 to 8,000 feet.”

Originally, Gilbert had planned on finishing by the end of August, but several injuries along the way delayed her progress; from extensive foot blisters in Nevada to a staph infection that forced her to take 3 consecutive days off from running in Pennsylvania, and finally running the last 100 miles to Provincetown with plantar fasciitis.

With support from her friend Jose Reyes, who drove ahead in a Honda Civic stocked with camping gear, water and food supplies, and Mizuno Running, who donated larger sized running shoes when Gilbert’s size 9 shoes gave her blisters, Gilbert was able to battle and move past her physical injuries. However it was her mental grit that got her to the end eventually.

“At that point it was just basically my will and I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to have to say, ‘I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do.’ It was hard,” Gilbert says.

At the finish Gilbert’s daughters, Kayla, 22, and Mikenzie, 19, welcomed her arrival in Provincetown. Gilbert was also presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition of her commitment to raise money for her local community.