2016 Running Trip – 50 Miles, 50 Cities & 7 Days Covering The Mighty Mississippi

On a short flight from Chicago to Des Moines earlier this year, I was dog tired. The inevitable 45 minute flight for us Iowans is a tough one to catch some sleep, so I sat awake peering out my southward facing window. If you’ve flown this route, you’ll know that the terrain is quite uneventful, but I always look forward to one thing – flying over the Mississippi River.

No matter how many times I’ve done this, I always find myself captivated by its snake-like flow and river cities dotted along the way. Man, I bet that river could tell some great stories, I pondered. The Mississippi River forms my home state’s eastern border and living in Cincinnati for a number of years developed my love for river towns. They offer great history, fun cultures and a glimpse into how the United States became what it is today.

It hit me at that point. My next running trip should somehow incorporate the Mighty Mississippi. Thinking about which seven cities I would run frustrated me. I want to see more than that along the way, but how could I do it? Thinking outside my normal running trip box, I thought to myself, What if my landmarks were actual cities? Bingo. So began the birth of my 2016 running trip – A journey in which I hope to run a mile in 50 cities along the Mississippi River, in seven days.

Having my pal Brad Carlson along my side during my 2015 trip made me realize that these trips are better with company. I then began to think about who would truly appreciate this specific trip. My father is my role model (and editor), and we used to take father-son weekend trips before my kids came along. Like me, he enjoys a good drive, so I decided to pitch the idea to him. “Yeah, I think I’d enjoy taking that trip with you,” he said. So it was on. And then I told him about the amount of miles in the car.

The planning begun immediately, because that’s what I do. Night after night, looking at maps, researching cities, figuring out logistics, I found myself wrapped up into what could be. The river itself covers 2,320 miles, and we’ll need to drive to Northern Minnesota to begin. I think the correct term here is oofta. The river mileage is condensed a bit on the roads, but still, we have a lot of driving (and running – me) ahead of us. So call us Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, we’re about to go on a true American adventure.

Vehicle of Choice: A one-way rental car picked up in Ames, my running shoes and a one-way flight back from New Orleans.

The Goal: Run 1 mile in 50 cities along the Mississippi River over the course of 7 days and raise $3,000 for Iron Phi in the process. And have a ton of fun.

How to Donate: Visit this page.

The Schedule:

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Thursday, October 13 – Drive to Lake Itasca where the Mississippi River begins.

The drive from Ames to Lake Itasca in itself is a 7-hour haul, but to do this right, we have to start where it all begins.

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Friday, October 14 – Lake Itasca to Minneapolis – 338 Miles Driving – 7 Miles Running

  • Bemidji (MN)
  • Grand Rapids (MN)
  • Brainerd (MN)
  • Little Falls (MN)
  • St. Cloud (MN)
  • Saint Paul (MN)
  • Minneapolis (MN)

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Saturday, October 15 – Minneapolis to La Crosse – 164 Miles Driving – 7 Miles Running

  • Red Wing (MN)
  • Lake City (MN)
  • Wabasha (MN)
  • Alma (WI)
  • Winona (MN)
  • Trempealeau (WI)
  • La Crosse (WI)

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Sunday, October 16 – La Crosse to Davenport – 233 Miles Driving – 8 Miles Running

  • Prairie du Chien (WI)
  • Guttenberg (IA)
  • Dubuque (IA)
  • Galena (IL)
  • Clinton (IA)
  • Le Claire (IA)
  • Moline (IL)
  • Davenport (IA)

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Monday, October 17 – Davenport to St. Louis – 300 Miles Driving – 8 Miles Running

  • Muscatine (IA)
  • Burlington (IA)
  • Fort Madison (IA)
  • Nauvoo (IL)
  • Keokuk (IA)
  • Quincy (IL)
  • Hannibal (MO)
  • St. Louis (MO)

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.59.38 PM

Tuesday, October 18 – St. Louis to Memphis – 341 Miles Driving – 7 Miles Running

  • Ste. Genevieve (MO)
  • Cape Girardeau (MO)
  • Cairo (IL)
  • Wickcliffe (KY)
  • New Madrid (MO)
  • Osceola (AR)
  • Memphis (TN)

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Wednesday, October 19 – Memphis to Vicksburg – 357 Miles Driving – 7 Miles Running

  • Oxford (MS)
  • Clarksdale (MS)
  • Cleveland (MS)
  • Indianola (MS)
  • Yazoo City (MS)
  • Jackson (MS)
  • Vicksburg (MS)

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 11.44.52 PM

Thursday, October 20 – Vicksburg – New Orleans – 308 Miles Driving – 6 Miles Running

  • Natchez (MS)
  • St. Francisville (LA)
  • Baton Rouge (LA)
  • Oak Alley (LA)
  • Thibodaux (LA)
  • New Orleans (LA)

10/21 – Friday – New Orleans

10/22 – Saturday – Fly Home – Kiss Wife & Kids – Sit On Couch


Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 11.55.47 PM

I will once again be raising funds for Phi Delta Theta’s Iron Phi program. My fundraising goal is $3,000, bringing my total to just shy of $20,000. 50% of the dollars raised will be donated to The ALS Association to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS research). ALS is an awful disease and one that we Phi Delts want to help erradicate. The other 50% of the dollars raised will support the Phi Delta Theta Foundation, an organization that has provided me with great experiences, opportunities, mentors, core values and friends.

I plan to begin fundraising in a few months. In the meantime, I’m always in search of fun tips, great places to eat and stay and friendly people to meet up with along the way.

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