RIer Sam Fox Runs 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail… for his Mom

Monday, September 12, 2011


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South Kingstown's Sam Fox is running the run of his life. For his mom. 

That run, along 2,650 miles of mountainous terrain from the Canadian to the Mexican border, will put the 23-year-old Wheeler School graduate not only to the most profound physical test, but will raise $250,000 for Parkinson's Disease and pay tribute to his mom, who was diagnosed with the disease more than a decade ago.

Fox, who went on from Wheeler to Yale (where he was a four-year letterman in track and field), is currently in the Oregon stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs along the spine of the West's highest peaks, from the Cascade Mountains in Washington and Oregon, along the Sierra Nevada in Northern California, and down through California's coastal mountains to its terminus in Campo, CA.

A daunting challenge

It's a grueling trail (more people have climbed Mount Everest than successfully through-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail). Fox's ambitions are not only to complete it, but to run it, and beat the 65-day record as well. The math

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44 miles per day, for two months: Fox, running

computes to an average of 16 hours a day of running, 44 miles a day, every day, for two months. For even a devoted athlete like Fox, who lettered 15 times in four sports while a student at Wheeler, it's a daunting challenge. Over its 2,650 miles, the trail climbs 60 major mountain passes and descends 19 major canyons. It passes more than 1,000 lakes and traverses 3 National Monuments, 7 National Parks, and 24 National Forests.

But for Fox, whose soft-spoken intensity practically glows in the promotional video for Run While You Can, the non-profit he founded in November 2010 to lay the fundraising base for the run, it's something he can do, and will, to honor his mother.

Running to honor his mother

Lucy Fox is an outdoorswoman herself--a skier and hiker who loved the wilderness and took her children there frequently. The family struggled with a confounding set of symptoms that began to sap Fox of her vitality, landing finally on a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease.

For Sam, raising money for the disease is vital, but honoring the spirit of his mom is what gets him up at dawn and out on the punishing trail every day. He recently skirted brushfires in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest, and is heading toward the California border.

How to follow, how to help

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The hazards of the trail: scary blisters at Washington's Steven's Pass

Sam's journey is being filmed by a documentary crew (also from South Kingstown), who check in and out with him on the trail. Follow their posts on Run While You Can's Facebook, here.

For a very cool look in on his position and milestone, use Sam's satellite beacon posts on SPOT, here, to follow his progress.

Want to get involved? Visit Run While You Can's Web site, here, to donate money to the cause, or get involved physically:

  • Run a section of the trail with Sam
  • Help set up, operate, and break down a support point
  • Haul fresh water, food, and clean gear to various cache points along the trail
  • Coordinate your own fund-raising initiative alongside the team's efforts
  • Carry gear for the Documentary film crew as they attempt to get footage in some very remote areas
  • Or simply show your support by cheering Sam on in person

Want to be inspired? Check out this video, filmed while Sam trained for the run in Grand Canyon National Park this spring.

Run While You Can Promo from Run While You Can Film on Vimeo.

Photos: Ben Salvetti, Eric DePalo

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