Almost less fathomable than the run itself is the fact that Garside began it with only about $30 in his pocket. He has stayed in the homes of police officers and peasant farmers and at Buddhist monasteries. He has developed relationships with various benefactors—a London photo agent, a Hong Kong clothing designer, a Japanese computer supplier—but he still depends largely on the kindness of Fremden, desconocidos, shiranai hito and �trangers for a shower, a bite to eat and a roof over his head. "The gift of gab gets you through, not the money," Garside says.
I slept in a whorse [sic] house. I introduced myself and the girls laughed and wanted to kiss Mr. Runningman. The room I got was seedy and I wrapped myself in clothes to avoid touching the bed. It was humid, dark and mirrored.
—November 1999, Mag�, Brazil
A Spanish man whom Garside met in Nepal ran with him and provided companionship through the 18,000-foot elevations in the Himalayas. A cyclist and a singing doctor he ran across in Australia joined him for 600 miles. In France a dog trotted beside him for 20 miles. His latest companion is more sightly, a Venezuelan university student whom he met while browsing clothing racks in a Caracas shopping mall. Endrina (Runningwoman) Perez, 24, plans to join him for the entire run across the U.S. and, he beams, "hopefully for life thereafter." Garside says Americans have been vowing to run with him once he crosses the Mexican border at Tijuana (accompanied by a dozen huapango-strummmg mariachi band members). He guarantees a crowd of "hundreds, maybe thousands" of sneakered supporters blocking traffic en route from Philadelphia to New York City, where he plans to run up and down the steps of the Empire State Building.
Compared to what Garside has already done and still plans to do, running across the U.S. will be a walk in the park. Afterward come the wars and plagues of central Africa, the dry heat of the Sahara and, eventually, Antarctica. He plans to use special ski shoes to glide along the continent's icy surface, and he'll tug behind him an aerodynamic egg-shaped capsule to store food and sleep in. "I'm going to do it," he says, attempting to convince himself as much as his interlocutor. "I'd rather do Antarctica than Colombia, because if I don't make it, at least I will have died doing something great and not in the hands of some guerrilla."
What do I say if I'm stopped (Er, hello, uh, what's up dude? Might I add what a fine looking narco-trafficker you are)?
—April 2000, at the Colombia/ Venezuela border
Antarctica or no, Garside wants to start a line of running wear (30% of whose proceeds will go to charity), write a book about the trip, and start a "model village" in India "where people can live without dying of dirty water or food all the time." At this point no dream of his seems unreasonable to him, though one wonders where he'll find the time to accomplish his goals: He plans on circumnavigating the globe twice more. The Runningman won't reveal his future modes of transport, lest someone steal his idea, but he says one circumnavigation will be by air and the other by sea, both will use his legs and neither will involve an engine or boat.
"I really didn't know anything about the world until I started running around it," Garside says. "It's like the time-travel show Quantum Leap, but instead of jumping I'm running from one experience to the next."