Kyle Lang ’19 ran his first marathon in his sophomore year of high school at the age of 16, after receiving the book Born to Run for Christmas. He’s run a few marathons since then, finally passing his older brother in one last spring.
Nowadays, he’s running the equivalent of a few marathons every week, and this summer, he’ll be running about a marathon and a half every day. Beginning June 5 at Grayland Beach, WA, Lang will run 2,967 miles to Coney Island, NY by about Aug. 18 — across the United States.
This literal cross-country run will be a fundraiser, benefiting three communities that have had an impact on Lang through three non-profit organizations: Great Rivers United Way, which serves in areas of education, income, health, and community basics in his home of La Crosse County, Wisconsin; Every Hand Joined, a cradle-to-career initiative in Red Wing, Minnesota at which Kyle interned last summer; and Special Olympics New Jersey, which provides sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the state he calls home during the school year. Donors can sponsor a mile or a state by contributing through Lang’s website.
In addition to dedicating the entire trip to three non-profits, Lang will also be dedicating each mile to a cause.
“I’m encouraging people to submit their mile intentions,” he says. “It can be anything from a struggle that they have in life, to a friend, a conflict.” Those who are interested can submit their ideas for mile intentions through his website. A devout Catholic, Lang said he hopes to think and pray about 2,967 different “intentions” throughout the trip.
For Lang, running is about more than coming in first.
Liam Collins ’19, an Outdoor Action buddy, running club friend, and fellow Forbesian, says Lang runs “because I think fundamentally he’s an extremely selfless person.”
Life for Lang seems to be that way too. On campus, he organizes bi-monthly trips to Loaves and Fishes, a Trenton soup kitchen, and plans volunteer events for the Rotaract Club.
“I think a lot of times people are in awe of how much he runs, because it’s very abnormal,” Collins said. “But I think they’re also in awe of the person he is even outside of running.” Collins says that when they met on Outdoor Action before their freshman year, Lang shared about his running, his faith, and his family.
All three will be an important part of this summer’s journey. Lang’s parents will be his support team, following him with a traveling trailer the first half of the summer and cheering him on from the family car for the second half. They will also be supplying him with between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day to sustain his intense physical activity.
While running, he’ll eat energy gels, burgers, and milkshakes to consume as many calories as possible. When he stops for the night, he’ll balance his diet with fruits and veggies.
“Everything that enters my body will have calories,” Lang says, conceding that he may drink water every now and then. But other than the occasional sip of water, he’ll be chugging energy drinks, fruit juice, and anything that ups his calorie intake.
“If I keep eating like that when I stop running…,” Lang trailed off, chuckling at the balloon effect that would surely take place.
Lang will take a break from running in the fall semester, and then ease back into it. By the spring semester, he’ll be training for another personal goal: breaking two minutes in an 800m run. Although it’s very different from his current focus, he has experience in the 800m from high school track and he’s looking forward to the change.
“It’ll be fun to get out there and do some 200 and 400 meter workouts instead of 20 and 40 mile workouts,” Lang said.
One other thing that might be switching up after the run: Lang’s always-buzzed hairstyle. If he reaches his $100,000 fundraising goal, he has pledged to not cut his hair until classes start spring semester.
“There’ll be a lot of Forrest Gump references,” he said. Despite all the similarities such as the cross-country run, the possibly long hair, and the humility, the two runners are importantly different in one way: Lang is running with a clear purpose in mind.
Editor’s note: If you’d like to stay up-to-date on Lang’s journey or help him reach his $100,000 fundraising goal, visit http://www.kylelangruns.com.