Minnesota’s Mikah Meyer recently completed a 38-day, 209-mile (336K) run across his entire state, from the border of South Dakota to the border of Wisconsin. He averaged about 10K a day and spent his nights in a van, all to raise awareness for his project called the Outside Safe Space, a program he created to support members of the LGBTQ+ community. His run didn’t break any records, but it did garner a lot of media attention for the cause, which is extremely important to Meyer (himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community).
1 Run Across Minnesota
What a journey it’s been launching the Outside Safe Space program!
— Mikah Meyer (@MikahMey) October 16, 2020
In an interview with Fox 9 in Minneapolis, Meyer said he only picked up running a couple of years ago when his doctor said he needed to lose some weight. During the pandemic, though, he said “running has been a godsend” for him, as it was one of the only activities he could keep up when everything in the U.S. was shut down. It was on these early-pandemic training runs that he came up with the idea for a cross-Minnesota adventure. He was actually inspired by Terry Fox, which he noted while talking with Fox 9.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I can use my profession, my privilege and my platform to do something to help other people.'” Like Fox, he decided on a long run, and although he didn’t run as far as the Canadian icon did in his Marathon of Hope, the run across Minnesota was still a big project. Meyer said he wasn’t used to running as much as he did while on the road, and his daily average of about 10K was far more than his usual 11K every couple of days when at home. Still, he added that “the easiest part of my journey is the running.” The hardest part was the planning, he said, including where he would park his van to sleep each night, organizing each day with his support crew and promoting the Outside Safe Space. After 38 days on the road, Meyer completed his run on October 11.
The Outside Safe Space
“So often when LGBTQ people leave urban centres,” Meyer told Fox 9, “places where we are often accepted and appreciated, we go out into rural areas, we go out into the outdoors, and it’s less likely that we feel safe or we feel welcome.” After a years-long journey across America to visit all 419 of the country’s national parks in one trip, the outdoors are a big part of Meyer’s life, so he wants to help make these rural areas feel more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. His plan to make this possible comes in the form of a rainbow-coloured tree, a symbol he donned throughout his run.
As he writes on his website, “The Outside Safe Space tree represents welcome to LGBTQ+ people. Whether you’re an ally or identify as LGBTQ+, wearing or displaying this symbol nonverbally communicates your support for folks being their authentic selves in rural and outdoor places, and outside traditionally welcoming spaces.”
To learn more about Meyer and the Outside Safe Space program, click here.