Why This Woman Ran a Marathon a Day, for Five Months, Across America
Anna Judd on her journey. Photo by Miss Robot Photography.
After five months, 17 states, and 3,200 miles, Anna Judd has finally stopped running. The California artist and activist finished a mighty journey on Saturday — completing at least one marathon a day, from California to New York City, all in an effort to raise consciousness about American war veterans and the struggles they face. “I wanted to push myself to my limitations,” she told Yahoo Health by phone just two days before reaching her finish line at Manhattan’s gleaming Freedom Tower. “And I saw part of that as making a difference in the world.”
Along the way, Judd had corporate sponsors, kept up a blog, and ran with thousands of individuals who joined her for segments of her trek — a corn farmer in Louisiana, a jazz singer in Mississippi, and several active-duty intelligence officers in various states were among her running companions. Early on in the journey, she sprained both ankles. Later, her support RV (where she sleeps most nights) was rear-ended by a speeding Porsche that left the car’s driver dead on the scene, sending Judd into a “very dark place” for a while.
“I’ve been told my whole mission is like a deployment,” she said, referring to conversations she’s had with a slew of vets as part of her project — vets like Rodney Borba, who told her about being “a wreck” in Iraq, and Enrico Green, who said he wanted to be seen as just another normal guy, “even though you know you’re not.” Judd collected a dozen interviews with veterans before embarking on her run to create the Face America Project, and will continue now, in collaboration with her friend and cross-country photographer Robot, to create a more in-depth documentary and book about veterans’ issues.
Photo by Miss Robot Photography
But for Judd — a 30-year-old Orange County, California, native who supplemented her painting career with work as a cocktail waitress before setting out across America — neither running nor empathy for veterans were things that came naturally.
In the beginning planning stages of her journey, Judd explained, she had difficulty nailing down one social issue to focus on. “I felt passionate about every cause,” she said. “I wanted to raise awareness for compassion, community, and activism, but that was too broad.” Several friends and acquaintances suggested she focus on veterans. “But I was resistant to that idea,” she admitted, blaming it on “ignorance,” and the fact that the issue seemed so outside of her life experience. “I’m an artist, my friends are artists, and I’m from Southern California. I had just never met many vets before,” Judd said. But she quickly realized that learning could be an invaluable part of the process, explaining, “I decided I would have to educate myself about a community of people I didn’t know much about.”