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Ultramarathoner Michael Wardian is almost back in Arlington, after journey across America

Ultramarathoner Michael Wardian on his journey across America (photo courtesy Michael Wardian/Instagram)

Ultramarathoner Michael Wardian has almost made it home to Arlington.

The 48-year-old local resident began his Forrest Gump-style run across America back on May 1. Fifty-eight days later, he’ll arrive in Arlington today (Monday) with only a little more than 100 miles left to go in his journey.

Wardian plans to make a pit stop at South Block in Ballston around 5:30 p.m. before continuing on to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach in Delaware to dip his toes in the Atlantic Ocean. The aim is to get to the shore by July 1, several days ahead of his original July 4 goal.

“I’m so Team America right now,” Wardian told ARLnow from a West Virginia mountaintop, taking a quick breather from running to talk with a reporter over the phone. “Really, I’ve been impressed with just what a beautiful country we have and how much hospitality there is.”

He has run 50 miles every day, which takes him about 12 hours. He often starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Besides a few blisters, he’s “feeling good” even after running a total of 2,600 miles over a nearly two-month period. He’s cataloged much of it on his Instagram account, as well.

There have been challenges, of course. Hundred-degree heat, road construction, rocky terrain, a tweaked hamstring, a hail storm, and even snow in Colorado all had to be navigated.

Ultramarathoner Michael Wardian running through the snow on his journey across America (photo courtesy Michael Wardian/Instagram)

There were also drivers trying to run him off the road and at least one flying hamburger.

“Someone threw a half-eaten hamburger at me two days ago,” Wardian says. “It hit the girl I was running with right in the chest.”

Overall, though, he’s been heartened by the experience. So far, Wardian has raised about $50,000 for World Vision, an organization that provides clean drinking water to families around the world. The goal is to raise $100,000, with all of the proceeds made during his visit to South Block today being donated to the cause.

Wardian has also been met on his journey by many looking to show their support or run alongside him. In Missouri, he had even had a special running mate — a dog.

“I ran 40 miles with a stray dog that I called ‘Yellow,'” he says. “He just followed me.”

The canine loved to drink out of streams and lay in puddles when it got too hot. But he would always catch up to Wardian. Eventually, “Yellow” was adopted by one of the people in the running group and was renamed “Miles.”

This is not Wardian’s first claim to fame, of course. He has run seven marathons on seven different continents, ran across Israel pre-pandemic, ran 260 miles in loops around Arlington Forest during the pandemic, and is becoming pretty well-known in the local pickleball scene as well.

Wardian actually planned to run across America in 2020, but Covid delayed the feat for two years.

He says he’s probably going to be “emotional” when he makes his way into Arlington later today after thousands of miles on the road.

“Running all the way home to Arlington has just been a lifetime goal,” Wardian says. “It just shows you like you just keep putting the work in and you’re consistent… everything is possible.”

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