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Runner McConaughy Prepares for Most Important Run

Joe McConaughy

Joe McConaughy

Feb. 13, 2014

Written by senior Kristen Scott

A map of the entire Pacific Crest Trail--marked with specific routes for each day and stops where he would eat--sprawls the length of Joseph McConaughy's bedroom wall. McCounaughy, a senior captain on the track team, meticulously planned out a journey that spans from the California-Mexico Border to the Washington-Canada border when he was 16 years old. When he was in high school, he dreamed of running all 2,600 miles along the Pacific Ocean. After six years, McConaughy's goal has begun to materialize.

"I thought `Maybe I'll run the trail for 20 days after graduating BC as a cool trip.' Kind of live out that high school dream of mine," McConaughy said.

The idea of running the Pacific Crest Trail started with the dream of a high school runner, but turned into something much more. In 2012, McConaughy's cousin's son, Colin, passed away from Neuroblastoma when he was just two years old. McConaughy took it upon himself to combine his dream with a mission.

McConaughy's developed a fundraising event, Run For Colin, in which he will attempt to individually break the Pacific Crest Trail speed record in 59 days. In an effort to support families that have felt the destruction that cancer causes, all donations in honor of Run For Colin will go to a leading cancer charity called CancerCare. CancerCare provides support to families impacted by cancer through counseling, education, group sessions and financial assistance.

McConaughy's cousin Colin


"When I flew in for the funeral, seeing Rob, my cousin and Colin's father, was the most surreal feeling. There were immediate tears, immediate embracing. You don't get to see your family as much as you'd like. It made me think about just how important those connections are to me. The biggest fear that Rob and Andrea [Colin's parents] have is that Colin will be forgotten. This is my way of preserving his memory," McConaughy said.

To get ready for the 2,600 mile trek, McConaughy logs long runs of 14 miles on the weekends. He will increase the distance of those runs as the journey approaches. A month before he begins running the trail, McConaughy will endure a "fattening period" in order to counteract the depletion that the trip will cause to his body. About two weeks before the run, McConaughy will prepare with high-mileage training. This consists of a two-day, 100-mile trip, a three-day 140-mile trip, and a five-day trip. He will complete these shorter journeys in order to test how his body reacts to different amounts and kinds of food, water and conditions and to test his mental readiness.

Jordan Hamm, a former teammate and Boston College track captain who graduated in 2013, will aid McConaughy in his adventure this June.

"Keeping focused and mentally in my mission is a big part of what Jordan will help me with. The run is going to be a huge challenge both mentally and physically," McConaughy said. "Having an outside resource that will keep my head on straight and keep me going and motivated is really essential. Jordan was my captain and he's always been so good at that. He's so even-keeled and a great emotional balance. To have him alongside me on this journey is incredible."

Attempting to raise $30,000 for CancerCare, McConaughy has already made a dent. So far, through contributions from mostly family and friends McConaughy has raised about $2,000. He is inspired by the generosity of his own community at Boston College in helping him achieve his goal and supporting his adventure.

"It's about showing you can fight through the destruction that cancer brings and how you can live on and remember Colin in an honorable way and in a way that makes my family proud and would make him proud," McConaughy said.

McConaughy will be blogging throughout his training, preparation, and fundraising at his website RunForColin.com.

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