.- Jeff Grabosky has completed his 3,700-mile run across America, an endeavor he says gave him a new perspective on America and on his Catholic faith.
âIt feels beyond awesome. Itâs still sinking in, but itâs an amazing and almost indescribable feeling,â he told CNA May 23, two days after his finish at Smith Point in Long Island, New York.
âThe feeling that I had at the end of that run was of such fulfillment and satisfaction that I had done well. I had lived my life through that run with faith and with the intent of helping others.
âIf I could extend what I did during my run and translate that into the rest of my life, then I think that my life will truly be a successâ
Grabosky, a 28-year-old native of New Jersey, decided to run across the country to inspire others and to use his talents to serve God. He received prayer intentions from others and prayed for them on his Rosary ring while he ran. He estimated he prayed 35,000 Hail Marys during a journey that began on January 20 in Oceanside, Calif.
âMy faith has only been deepened by this experience and has made me want to be a better person on so many different levels,â he explained.
He thinks he âdefinitelyâ would not have finished if it wasnât for his own faith and prayer and the prayers of others on his behalf.
He took inspiration from his mother, who died of cancer in 2006. She too was a runner who prayed the Rosary during her runs.
Grabosky said that although he faced physical problems and bad weather, his biggest challenge was to stay âfocused and positiveâ in times of difficulty.
âI think thatâs really where the faith and the prayer aspect came in and helped get me through every time,â he said.
He described the best part of his run as âjust being able to stay focused in prayer.â
His prayers bore fruit.
âIt was amazing. Anytime I needed something, it showed up just when I needed it. A place to stay, water, foodâ¦ I certainly had to do my part, but it never got to the point where I was out of options.
âGod was walking with me every step. And just when I couldnât do any more he stepped in and took care of me.â
Grabosky said his most memorable encounters were with people he otherwise would never have met.
âThe media portrays America as being selfish and money-driven, and everything that goes along with that stereotype. But from my experience, itâs exactly the opposite. Everyone was so kind and generous and wanted to help out in any way they could,â he recalled. âIt was surprising. Even the people who obviously didnât have much were some of the most willing to give what they had.
âThatâs really made me want to be a better person and be more generous with the blessings that I have.â
Construction workers would simply walk up to Grabosky and give him money. He also learned the stories and struggles of hitchhikers, like one man traveling to see his sick mother.
âHe was getting money for food and motels by singing poetry he had written at places like Wal-Mart parking lots,â Grabosky said, adding that his run has given him âa whole different perspective.â
The harshest leg of his route took place in the Texas panhandle between Dimmitt and Tulia. He had expected a windy day, but Grabosky had not considered what the wind would do to the surrounding fields covered in loose dirt.
Feeling a gust, he looked up to see âa huge wall of dirt and dustâ which he could not outrun. He tied his bandana to his face and kept running through the sustained winds of 40 mph.
Hours later, he ended the day with bits of dirt in his teeth, rings of dirt around his eyes, and his supplies covered in filth.
Grabosky spoke to several groups during his trip: a school in Phoenix, medical students in St. Louis, and participants in the University of Notre Dameâs Holy Half-Marathon 10k.
The runner, a Notre Dame graduate, also stopped to pray at the schoolâs famous Marian Grotto.
The most rewarding part of the trip, he said, was hearing people tell him that he has encouraged them in their lives and their faith.
Now that he has finished his trans-continental run, Grabosky is praying to learn what God wants him to do next. He would like to stay involved in running, perhaps as a coach, or he could take a position with âa more Catholic focus.â
The runner is also considering turning his run journal into a book.
Those interested can read more about Jeff Graboskyâs run at: http://jeffrunsamerica.com.