Running the Parks – Bill Sycalik
Bill Sycalik did what so many of us only dream of: he gave up a secure 9-5 job for an unknown adventure.
On June 18, 2016, US ultrarunner Bill Sycalik started a self-supported and self-funded quest to run a marathon distance in all 62 US national parks in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service! Bill ran marathons in 55 parks so far.
Although it’s been a journey of highs and lows since he started, and Bill had to overcome quite some challenges, he hopes to complete his National Parks Marathon Project Summer 2021 (date to be confirmed).
Bill’s mission to get people out to see, enjoy and appreciate outdoor life
“Go outside and be in it,” Bill says.”Cause I think the way to be most appreciative about our planet and then want to do something about it, whether that is continuing to conserve natural spaces, to limit development in particular areas so that you protect wildlife, or just to have areas for recreation, is to go out and enjoy them.
And until you do that enough times, I think some people take it for granted and they just go “Oh it will always be there,” or “I’ll go and see it some other time,” or “I’ll just go outside and run on my street here.”But going and visiting that, is I think where you’re gonna recognize how important it is to protect some of our natural lands, and conserve what we have, and keep it clean.”
Running a marathon allows us to experience 26.2 miles in a Park in a way that I believe connects us to the earth at a deeper level. The distance gives nature an opportunity to challenge us. To see a change in the National mindset to one that prioritizes inclusiveness over divisiveness, healthy eating and exercise over immediate gratification and conservation over consumption.
National Parks are our antidote to the seeming divisive country in which we live. In a National Park there is equality. The mountains, the trees, the animals set forth no judgment of man nor care about man’s judgment. On the grounds of a National Park everyone enjoys the same land, air and water; the same experience regardless of gender, orientation, age, education or economic background. We are one Nation in a National Park.”
Before heading to Alaska to complete the project, Bill would run in White Sands, New Mexico on March 28, 2020 but because of the Coronavirus the project has been postponed to May 2021. In August 2021 Bill will run a marathon distance at New River Gorge National Park. The 6 marathons in Alaska will wait until Summer 2022.
Stay tuned for updates ’cause Bill loves your company or support:
“I am always looking for people to join me for a fun trail run through one or more of our nation’s protected spaces. You can read more and find my schedule. If you would like to join me send me a direct message. I would love to meet you,” Bill says.