On May 22, 71-year-old Björn Suneson, a retired journalist from Stockholm, recently completed his seventh unsupported run across the US. Suneson ran from Los Angeles to New York City, a distance of 5,250K, in 97 days, pushing his gear in a Baby Jogger.
“My seventh run across the USA was, to my surprise, one of the easiest, Suneson wrote on his blog. He averaged about 54K per day, which he says is about the same as on previous trips.
Suneson did his first cross-Amerca run 12 years ago at the age of 59. And he said this one was the best yet, with the running itself being secondary to the people he met and his observations of his surroundings.
“I have never had any doubts that I would not make it,” he blogs. “And never have I woken up in the morning thinking that I don’t want to run. A bit naively, I have been completely convinced that I will get to the goal of every daily stage no matter how difficult the conditions have been. My routine has helped me a lot, sometimes it has felt as if I was a machine. If you’re not injured or in pain, well then it’s lovely most of the time.
“This run has been different from earlier ones. Now I have been more interested in the surroundings, talked to lots of people. The running itself has almost been a secondary thing, I know that I will make my miles easily.
“And how fun has it been? Well, you don’t laugh out loud all days, but I have never had real lows or felt homesick a lot. But now I really long for home.”
Suneson remarked, though, that the run felt very dangerous in parts.
“Will there be an eighth coast to coast? Even though I probably have the strength, I don’t want to expose myself to the risks in traffic. This run has been more dangerous than the earlier ones, especially in Pennsylvania with lots of traffic and bad roads and hardly any road shoulders. It’s a wonder that nothing serious has happened. And I wouldn’t advise anybody to make a coast to coast, [it’s] much too dangerous.”
It was in Pennsylvania, however, that Suneson also connected with fellow septuagenarian ultrarunner Gene Dykes, whom he had first met at the Boston Marathon in 2018. (Dykes won the M70 age group that year with his 3:16 finish. Suneson was fourth, in 3:53:10.) And they reconnected at last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where Dykes was being touted to break Ed Whitlock‘s sub-3 M70 record (which he missed by 30 seconds), and where Suneson finished third in the age group, with a 3:43:45.
This time, the two men chatted for a couple of relaxing hours over coffee. Suneson asked Dykes if he’d ever consider an adventure like running across the country. Dykes’s response?