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Young man on the run
Jim Dunn
August 12, 1974
He had strong legs, a poet's eye, and he was 16 years old—what more did he need to cover the 1,750 miles between Mexico and Canada?
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August 12, 1974

Young Man On The Run

He had strong legs, a poet's eye, and he was 16 years old—what more did he need to cover the 1,750 miles between Mexico and Canada?

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I made my way slowly through the border town of San Ysidro. My objective this day was to reach Del Mar, 42 miles by the route I would take. I headed north to San Diego. When I had gone 10 miles, I bumped into my family. They gave me fruit and then drove off. By noon I had covered 18 miles. I went through Old Town and past Sea World and Mission Bay. I stopped at the beach to watch the kids enjoy their summer, cruised through La Jolla and visited some friends.

I reached home, exhausted, about 6 p.m. I didn't see how I could go on. My attitude had taken a 180� change in course. I didn't want to continue—I felt that bad.

What was to have been the second day of the trip unfortunately was the first day of rest. I had run too far too soon. It was not so much a day of rest as it was of meditation. I contemplated whether or not to continue. For half a day I sat and thought. Finally, late in the afternoon I decided I would go on.

The next morning I woke with anticipation. The plan was to run to Ocean-side, 18 or 20 miles away. Until I got used to covering a distance, I'd be taking it easy. We got the camper ready and I even let my mother give me a haircut. At noon I said goodby to my brother and sister, took some pictures and after last looks back, started to run. As time and the towns passed by I noticed that I was feeling great. I was proud, and repeated old cheerleading jingles to myself like, "You're rough, you're tough and you're hard to bluff. So let's go, Jim, and show 'em your stuff."


It was raining that morning, the fifth day of the trip. I would be running from Huntington Beach through metropolitan Los Angeles, and had worried that if the weather was too hot the smog, cars and congestion would defeat me.

I started up, running along the beach for five miles, passing the oil pumps that people complain so much about. Seems to me they don't realize that what they get from those pumps keeps their cars going. But I do have to admit that the pumps look rather tacky. Moving inland on the Pacific Coast Highway, I was thankful that I didn't have to live here, and felt sorry for those who did.

Ordinarily I don't mind being stared at when I run. But I did feel sheepish when people would see me. I guess I must have looked weird running through such a crowded area. The day's destination was Redondo Beach. I made it, covering the 30 miles despite the cars.

The next day would be fun. I planned to tour Los Angeles International Airport. If there's one thing I love, it's an airport.

I got there an hour after I started, and walked about the terminal in my little blue shorts. Naturally I received many glares. It must have been my legs. Some joker noticed my Mission Bay Marathon shirt and said, "Hey, fella, in a marathon you are supposed to run." I left the airport feeling happy despite the pains I was beginning to feel in my legs. I had expected them to come much earlier.

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