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Running Shoes and a Wool Habit: Endurance Athlete and a New Jersey Nun are Running 2,500 Miles of Hope Through America

From April 19th to June 19th, 2010, Lisa Smith Batchen, one of the world's premier ultra-runners, will be the first person to attempt to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states. She is "Running Hope Through America" to help millions of orphans around the world.

New York, N.Y. (Vocus) -- Internationally-known endurance athlete Lisa Smith Batchen will attempt to become the first athlete to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states in two months in an effort to raise money and awareness for orphans throughout the world. Beginning in N.J. on April 19th, 2010 and finishing in Wyoming on June 19th, the event, Running Hope Through America, will pass through major cities and small towns.

Accompanying Smith Batchen, 49, on the run will be a small support crew including her good friend and running partner, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, 61, a member of the Religious Teachers Filippini Order. For more than 300 years, this Order has been helping to educate women and children around the world. Smith Batchen met Sister Mary Beth years ago when she was the track coach at an all-girls Catholic High School in New Jersey and was looking for a running coach. “Lisa was the answer to my prayers,” said Sister Mary Beth, who is still located in New Jersey.

Since members of her Order are not allowed to dress in clothes other than a habit, Sister Mary Beth will join Smith Batchen in her full habit: a black wool tunic over a white shirt and underskirt, black headpiece and a black woolen belt. And sneakers. Although Sister Mary Beth is an accomplished marathoner who has completed several marathons and ultramarathons (50 miles or more), for Running Hope Through America, she is planning to race-walk through most of the states in which she is participating.

Smith Batchen is the only American to ever win at the famous "Marathon des Sables,” a 150 mile race through the Sahara. She took the top prize for the women's division, and is still the only American to have ever earned a trophy of any kind in this race. She has won the Badwater Ultramarathon twice, and is one of the only women to ever have completed the "Badwater Double," also known as the "Death Valley 300" because of its location and distance. In 2010, she will be the first woman to complete 10 Badwater Ultramarathons.

Besides being an accomplished athlete, Smith Batchen is also the founder of the Dreamchaser Foundation. Established in 2008, the foundation encourages amateur and professional athletes alike to use their passion for sports for charitable ends. To date, Smith Batchen has raised more than $4.5 million for charity. She was personally invited to meet Pope John Paul II as thanks for the work she has done to support AIDS Orphans Rising.

All funds raised through Running Hope Through America will be distributed by the Dreamchaser Foundation to three organizations that uniquely assist orphans abroad and in the United States: AIDS Orphans Rising (India, Ethiopia), The Caring House Project (Haiti) and The Orphan Foundation of America (United States).

Runners and non-runners alike can join Smith Batchen on most of her runs and do not have to complete the run to participate. Those interested in donating to the cause, joining Smith Batchen in their state or just learning more, are encouraged to visit and to also look for Running Hope to America on Facebook.

Editorial Note: On the first day of the run, Monday, April 19, Smith Batchen will run in Loantaka Park in Morristown, N.J. The run will begin at 5:30 a.m. and is expected to finish around 6 p.m. People of all ages are encouraged to come out to N.J. and run as much – or as little – as they can, even just one mile. The Web site,, provides details on the routes in each state.


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Source: PRWeb
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