'Biking Viking' zips into Wash. on 50-state running, cycling tour
'Biking Viking' Anders Forselius is running marathons and biking all around the U.S., and recently cycled through Yakima Canyon
The 'Biking Viking'To learn more about Anders Forselius see www.bikingviking.se/
YAKIMA, Wash. — Anders Forselius had run marathons on every continent except Antarctica. But, at 43, he needed a new challenge.
So the Swede set out to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. But that, he maintains, isn't unique. So he's bicycling to each state and running some 26.2-mile races along the way. Wearing an orange biking shirt and pedaling a bike sporting bright yellow travel bags, the self-dubbed "Biking Viking" rode the Yakima River Canyon Road from Ellensburg to Yakima earlier this week as he continued his 16-marathon tour this season.
Since running in the Boston Marathon on April 18, he's run seven races from New Jersey to San Francisco, traveling almost exclusively by bike to get to them. He's hopped a bus twice to get to races on time, but looped back to get his bike and covered the same ground en route to the next marathon.
He plans to run eight more marathons by December, when he'll take a Christmas break before coming back in 2012 to round out the country.
The biking keeps him in pretty good shape, he says, so his marathon time hovers around 3 hours and 20 minutes — an average of about 7 ½ minutes per mile. But he's unimpressed.
"I'm sort of lazy," he said. "I don't like to go out and run 10 or 15 miles. I don't think that's fun."
What he loves is racing — the energy at the beginning of a marathon.
"I love to beat people," he said.
A freelance journalist, Forselius writes about each race for the Swedish edition of Runner's World, which means that most of his entry fees are waived by organizers.
His best time to date is 3 hours, 5 minutes. One of his worst times in the United States was in Madison, Wis., in May when he pulled a calf muscle seven miles into the race. He ran the rest with an ice pack, he said, and finished at 3 hours, 44 minutes.
Despite the injury, he was off and running in the Minneapolis marathon just a week later.
"It's good to have strong legs and good lungs for running a marathon, but the best thing is a bad memory," he said.
This is Forselius's sixth major marathon tour since 1998. He's biked and ran races in North America, South America and Europe. By year's end, he'll have run a total of 35 marathons.
But it's not just about him.
Forselius runs to raise money for cancer research. Since last summer, he's been a part of Fred's Team, a group of athletes raising money for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Forselius' said his ex-fiancee had leukemia, but has recovered. But he's always wanted to do something to help.
To donate, fans can friend him on Facebook, and before races, he makes bets with them: "If I run this race in less than 3 hours, 20 minutes, will you donate $10?"
His bets have gotten creative since hitting the West Coast. In San Francisco, he noticed that the Giants were selling fake Brian Wilson beards; fans donated about $300 for him to run the marathon wearing one of those beards. He's toying with running a women's race in women's clothing in South Dakota if it helps raise more money.
So far this year, he's raised about $3,000, he says. His goal is to sell every foot of a marathon for a dollar each — raising a little less than $140,000.
Forselius likes to travel by himself, saying he meets more people that way. But on this tour, he's not alone: He's carrying the ashes of a 12-year-old boy, whose mother he met while riding through California. She told him that her son's last wish was for his ashes to be spread throughout the world.
Some of the ashes were left in "very beautiful spot" on Yakima Canyon Road, he said.
In addition to the scenery, the biking and the races, Forselius enjoys the people he meets along the way. He has a tent stowed away in his 90 pounds of gear, but says he sees it as "a very big failure" if he has to pitch it at night. Instead, he prefers meeting strangers who can host him, often using WarmShowers.org, a CouchSurfing-type network for bicycle enthusiasts, or showing up at fire stations.
He keeps his expenses down by crashing at new friends' homes and eating bowls of noodles from gas stations. He said his trip only costs him about $10 to $15 a day.
"Probably 50 percent of that is coffee," he admitted. "That's another reason I love Washington — I can find a Starbucks on every street."
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