Cole Crosby shares the same sentiment as many Americans these days. He''s been frustrated and disappointed by the lack of positivity in our country, which has been triggered by several troubling and tumultuous events that have transpired over the last year.
So between the many effects of the pandemic, the unrest caused by social issues, and other turbulent events that have taken place across our nation, Crosby wanted to do something uplifting.
He wanted to do something to bring people together, make a positive impact .
So he did what he does best! He ran! And ran! And ran! And kept on running!
In what evoked images of scenes from the movie Forrest Gump, Cosby pulled on his running shoes just before 2 a.m. on Saturday morning and embarked on a remarkable and inspiring record-setting journey that stretched across the entire length of New Jersey!
The 32-year-old Crosby, who has competed in more than 30 ultra marathons, started his arduous trek at the High Point Monument in Sussex County at 1:58 a.m. on Saturday. He kept going until he arrived at the Cape May Lighthouse at 10:40 p.m. on Sunday night. He covered the 197 miles in 44 hours, 42 minutes, and 21 seconds, which is believed to be the fastest time ever recorded for a High Point to Cape May run.
Crosby, who ran XC and track at South Brunswick High School (Class of 2007) and ran at the University of Oklahoma, had multiple reasons for taking on such an ambitious endeavor.
"This run had many different reasons or motivations for doing it,'' said Crosby. "One of the top ones was I wanted to have something our NJ community could rally behind. And man did we! And we need more positivity in our world, and this run was just the start to hopefully adding to that dialogue to kick off 2021 on the right foot. It feels amazing!''
Crosby, who lives in Princeton and works as the Golf Shop Manager at the Roxiticus Golf Club in Mendham, also used his run to raise money for the Road Runners Club of America, raising $4,699 as of Monday night, far exceeding the goal of $1,000.
"The pandemic has really hurt the experiences of our youth,'' said Crosby. "From virtual school to most organized sports canceled, I wanted to help fund youth running projects, but also inspire future children to dream big. When we do that, there is nothing we can't achieve.''
Crosby showed a lot heart and grit over the grueling 44 hour-plus odyssey, and his body was understandably a bit beat up.
"I'm proud of the effort I gave out there and am feeling pretty sore and stiff,'' he said. "I have some swelling to my right knee and a very tight hamstring, I hope I will bounce back quickly. I am due for plenty of epson salt baths. I pushed myself to my limits and then pushed some more.''
What was the toughest part of the run?
"The toughest part was the overnight section from Bordentown to Hammonton,'' he said. "It was a long 30-40 mile stretch where I had already been up for almost 24 hours with only a 38 minute nap. It was cold and mentally challenging.'''
Crosby said he napped just twice, crashing in the family car that his wife Ashlee was driving. The other sleep break was for about 45 minutes. He also spent some time stretching his legs out and taping up two blisters on his big toe.
Crosby, who estimates he lost between 4-5 pounds, fueled up on avocados, rolled oats, gummy bears, chocolate oat milk, and Boom energy gels, the latter has supported his running since 2012.
"They have 130 calories a packet and go down smooth,'' Crosby said of the Boom gels.
What was Crosby's favorite part of NJ to run through?
"NJ is an incredible place to be outside, and this run proves it,'' said Crosby. " The course was very challenging, but it was New Jersey in all of its splendor and its challenges- cars, traffic, etc. I loved going through all of the sections as each was distinct. My favorite part was the Bedminster horse farms. With my work at Roxiticus so close, I run out there often and it's a gem of a place most people do not know even exists.''
Knowing what he knows now, would Crosby do it again?
"I'm pretty proud of what I did,'' he said. "I do want to push those long distance events (100 miles plus), but knowing how relentless this course actually was, I think I would want to try a different challenge - maybe a trail run or stage race.''
Lots of runners jumped in and ran alongside Crosby for different stretches during his journey, including Adam Nalven, an assistant XC and track and field coach at South Brunswick, and several people cheered him on as he traversed his way across the Garden State.
Nalven ran with Crosby for three miles in through Steelmantown in Cape May County.
"I am so incredibly inspired by what Cole did,'' said Nalven. "It doesn't inspire me to want to run 200 miles, but it just inspires me to dream big. He is the type of person that is so selfless and will help anyone. So tracking him all day...I knew he would appreciate any support. So I'm glad I got to join him for a short segment and let him know how proud South Brunswick was of him.''
South Brunswick head boys cross-country and outdoor track and field coach Wil Rivera, who coached Crosby in high school, gave Crosby a hug and some words of encouragement as he ran through Hamilton Township in Mercer County.
Rivera said what Crosby accomplished doesn't surprise him.
"What I will always remember about coaching Cole is that he alway did the work with a smile on his face and never did he let set backs dictate his demeanor,'' said Rivera. "He remained optimistic in the face of any challenge that he encountered in his life. This recent achievement speaks to that same mindset. It's one thing to go after a personal goal, but to use it to encourage and inspire others within the running community and beyond during these hectic times is something that he should be commended and applauded for. I know that I am personally in awe of him and the support that was already shown for his efforts.''
"The support meant everything to me,'' said Crosby. "It was an experience that was my turning point in my life,'' said Crosby. "I never imagined in my wildest dreams the positive impact this had on our community and,, the generosity of complete strangers for me was nothing short of inspirational..'
Crosby said being the fastest to ever run across the entire state means a lot to him, and he hopes this will trigger a new wave for ultra marathoners.
"It feels amazing,'' said Crosby. "It feels like a storybook a little., and I hope this inspires others to go for the record. I hope it inspires others to combine speed with real endurance for ultra run athletes. I think a run like this is the next frontier of the sport.''