Run 40 miles a day? Emily Haag did it to benefit Students Run LA

By Giuliana Mayo

Emily Haag runs outside El Paso, Texas. She went through three pairs of shoes as she ran across America. Photo by Joany Haag.

Emily Haag ran some 2,500 miles from Jacksonville, Florida to Santa Monica to benefit the group Students Run LA (SRLA). After 85 days and three pairs of shoes, she arrived on July 24. 

How does one gear up for such a journey? Haag says she’d been running marathons and ultra marathons for years. 

“I had a little bit of a runner's base, but I really started putting in the training a few months before I went out there, and really started putting on long miles on the trails around Los Angeles,” she says.

She drew inspiration from the kids in SRLA, having first encountered the organization at the LA Marathon.

“I saw all these high school kids running and I thought, ‘Are these high school and middle school students really running a marathon right now?!’ I was thinking back when I was in high school, you couldn't have made me run a marathon to save my life,” Haag shares.

She joined to coach on the spot. Then the cross-country run idea started to come to life. 

“As soon as I decided to do this run, I thought, ‘Well, I want to do it for charity, I want to do it for a good cause.’ And it just was a no brainer [to benefit SRLA],” Haag says.

Emily Haag tearfully arrives in Santa Monica after 85 days running across the country. Photo by Joselyn Rivas.

Sticking to highways with wide shoulders and not too much traffic, she made her way, running about 40 miles a day. Her parents acted as her personal pit crew, driving a truck with a camper and supplies as they followed her path. And, yes, “Forrest Gump” jokes abounded. 

“If a day passed and I didn't hear a ‘Forrest Gump’ joke, I was a little bit disappointed,” she says.

Though Haag has returned, her fundraiser is still active and she hopes folks will continue to contribute or volunteer their time and expertise to help out LA’s running youth.