Connecticut-based ultrarunner Shan Riggs departed Key West, Florida, on Saturday, April 16, in an attempt to become the first-known runner to cover the entire 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, a developing multi-use pathway connecting 15 states and 450 communities from Maine to Florida.
Riggs plans to run approximately 40 miles daily with the aim of reaching the northern terminus of the East Coast Greenway - Calais, Maine - in late June. Joining Riggs’ bike-supported run will be his partner Joshuaine (Josh) Grant, who will transport their supplies on a bike trailer.
In 2020, Riggs ran more than 3,200 miles from San Francisco to the Connecticut coast, completing a west-to-east run of the continental United States. Covering the East Coast Greenway on foot - in record time, of course - is next on his list.
“When we were thinking about what the next big thing is, we were wanting to find something that nobody has done before and also support people getting outdoors and being active and the East Coast Greenway just naturally came up,” Riggs said.
Riggs and Grant have a goal of raising $30,000 - $10 per mile - in support of the East Coast Greenway Alliance and its mission to create safe spaces for equitable active transportation and recreation.
“I think this is really important for public health to have these safe spaces for all kinds of active people of all ages,” said Grant.
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In addition to raising money for the East Coast Greenway, Riggs and Grant want to elevate the profile of the developing pathway through their efforts.
“For the East Coast Greenway, I’d like to bring awareness to, first, the really amazing sections that are off road, and also some of the more challenging sections that are unfinished that would make a more continuous trail,” Grant added.
Riggs took up ultra running after reading Dean Karnazes’ best-selling book, “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner.” “I read that book and thought ‘I think I can do that,’” he said.
Since then, the 43-year-old Riggs has completed 46 ultramarathon races - winning several - and has completed several multi-day expeditions all over the world raising money and awareness for a variety of charities.
He also has more than 20 years of sponsorship consulting experience, working with major brands and properties of all types, including the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s RiMaConn Relay on the East Coast Greenway.
Grant, a “50-year-old adventure-seeking cyclist, runner and scientist,” will continue her work for Applied BioMath from the Greenway.
Beginning Saturday, Riggs and Grant aim to start each day at first light with Grant riding ahead, while Shan follows on the run. They plan to complete each day’s mileage by mid-afternoon to then rest up and repeat.
“These past few years have been a challenge for everybody, but one of the silver linings was being able to get outside,” Riggs said. “Part of our message is to get outside and take advantage of these beautiful places we have.”
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