Testament to Stamina

UWEC grad’s run across the country inspires book

Bailey Berg

HERE COMES THE FUZZ! Jared Choate snapped this selfie while being escorted off the highway by Ohio police during his cross-country run. The adventure is the subject of his ebook, The Now Testament.
HERE COMES THE FUZZ! Jared Choate snapped this selfie while being escorted off
the highway by Ohio police during his cross-country run. The adventure is the
subject of his ebook, The Now Testament.

Jared Choate has an interesting bucket list: to play drums for 24 hours straight, to see a screenplay he’s written become a film, to pay off his student loans before he dies, and to fire a bazooka. His list got a little shorter two years ago when he crossed running across the United State off the list.

With his wife, Kelly, stationed at home to help route and often re-route his path, the UW-Eau Claire graduate ran 3,000 miles from Surf City, N.J., to the Santa Monica Pier in California, which was near where he was living at the time.

“The notion of running home (helped) keep me motivated,” Choate said of the trip, which took 5½ months during late 2010 and early 2011. It was an eventful period for other reasons as well: The Eau Claire native and 2006 UW-Eau Claire grad, who now lives in Davis, Calif., was married during three-week break from the run when he suffered from debilitating shin splints.

“The story isn’t about me. ... The book is about something much bigger. It’s about people. It’s about America. It’s about the people who live meekly and who help others without asking anything in return and who, quite often, never get their story told.” – UWEC grad Jared Choate, on his new ebook about running across
the United States, The Now Testament

Now, the 31-year-old Choate is planning a bike trip across the country to promote his first book, The Now Testament. He’ll leave from Portland, Maine, in September, and as far as he can tell may become the first American to both run and pedal across the entire country.

While the book does detail his adventures – from crossing 150 miles of the Appalachian Mountains to coming face-to-face with a mountain lion in the switchbacks of the Mojave – and the many mishaps – from food poisoning and heatstroke to hurricanes, tropical storms and weeklong blizzards – on the road, Choate said the crux of the book is the people who helped him on his way.

In fact, Choate didn’t start his run with the intention of writing a book about it, but in looking back and remembering the people who were willing to help a “lanky, disheveled dude” toting a supply cart he had dubbed Maybelline, he decided there was a story that needed to be shared.

“I’m of course the humble narrator, but the story isn’t about me,” Choate said. “Because that’s narrow, short-sighted. The book is about something much bigger. It’s about people. It’s about America. It’s about the people who live meekly and who help others without asking anything in return and who, quite often, never get their story told.”

Choate credits those people for making the run possible.

“After I kept re-visiting the moments of the run, the best, most human moments, it was clear that none of them would have been possible if not for the endless help I received from people I’d met, or friends who were more supportive than they had any right to be,” Choate said.

Choate didn’t have much money, so spending the night at hotels was out of the question. Instead he found refuge in public parks, wooded areas, and baseball dugouts, as well as a pirate ship, a McDonalds Playland, an occasional cemetery, and an airport hanger used by Harrison Ford.

“My rules were no trespassing and no breaking and entering,” Choate said. “Both of these rules were marginally adhered to for the duration of the trip, but necessity and safety forced my hand on several occasions.”

But it was the help from perfect strangers that Choate found most humbling. On several occasions, people would insist on offering up their own homes for him to sleep in or proving him with a hot meal.

The book, is currently being released episodically in ebook-only format. The first chapter, chronicling the start of his journey through New Jersey was released July 11; the next chapter, “Pennsylvania,” came out July 25. Subsequent chapters will be released on Thursdays at two-week intervals. The complete ebook will be available Oct. 31, and Choate eventually hopes to publish a hard copy, too.

To learn more about Jared Choate and The Now Testament, and to see a video interview with the author, visit jaredchoate.com. The book’s epilogue is available free on the website.

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