Bill Sycalik 

Bill Sycalik
Nationality: USA

Bill was a successful management consultant in New York City, working 12 hours a day.
Until… he did what so many of us only dream of: he gave up his secure job for an unknown adventure.
Now he’s on a mission to get people out to see, enjoy and appreciate outdoor life.

Breaking out the comfort bubble
Everything was going ok; there was no obvious reason to make a change. Yet Bill felt a change was drastically needed because “my lifestyle wasn’t FEEDING me, it was feeding ON me.”

“I wanted to break from the corporate world and take on something closely aligned with my personal values. While thinking about experiential ways to promote a healthy lifestyle I happened to read about the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Their slogan #findyourpark resonated with me.”
So in the summer of 2016 at age 45 Bill quit his job to go on a pursuit of self-discovery.

National Parks Marathon Project
A self-supported and self-funded quest to run a marathon in all 60 US national parks.
Bill wants to inspire people to get out and run in our country’s National Parks and experience the power of nature to restore health to the body and spirit.

“My passion is to bring people together and experience nature through running. I developed the Project as a way for me and others to reconnect with nature – both personal nature and physical nature. I believe that a marathon is long enough for us to become aware of ourselves.
Stress, anxiety, problems – they all fall away when running long distances. You realize your capability. You connect with your true personal nature.”

The Project is also a great reason to visit the physical nature of the US National Parks.

”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.”

Scaling down
He started running at age 33 when he felt out of shape and few pounds overweight, thinking ‘if Oprah can run a marathon, so can I’. And he did, but he thought he could do better. Bill started looking into resources to improve his running. As a son of a father who worked for a beef processing company he ate meat almost every day and fish on other days. After reading Rich Roll’s book he decided to give a plant-based diet a try.

Before my trip, my job, apartment and city were my persona. These made up what I was not who I was. The time on the project allowed me to explore this aspect of myself. I continue to explore it every day. It sounds cliche but it is a journey. The more it becomes more concrete, the more it changes.

For me I am growing past the professional title, the car, fancy home.
I am growing into myself.

After living in New York for a while you know you get caught up in the fear of missing out and always wanting to have something stronger, faster, better, so this is because I’m living kind of a minimalist lifestyle at this point.
Everything is in my car I’m sleeping on top of my car or in shared spaces or people’s homes you really realize what you do need and what you don’t need. Imagine everything that I own for a multi-month cross-country trip is all scaled down to the size of the back of a Subaru Impreza.

“The sense of generosity and kindness that people have displayed to me was something that I’ve had to learn to accept in terms of lodging and logistical help and financial health.”

Walking out of the comfort bubble of his old life is relieving but can sometimes be frightening.

Before he started his project, Bill didn’t think it was possible to leave and do something different. But along the way he discovered that
“just about anything is possible, and you don’t need to wait for a major tragedy or some dramatic event in your life in order to make a change.”

When Bill is not running one of the US National Parks he’s living in Denver, Colorado, managing IT projects to finance his next adventure.
He’s also a Certified Running Coach.

“The National Parks Marathon Project is my art project, my social community, my way of bringing people together around a sport I enjoy in 60 of the most beautiful places in the world. One of my goals is to have at least one person from the running community run some or all of every marathon with me. Come join me!”


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