Marathoner Larry Grogin Goes the Distance for Unity

He'll be traveling at a flexible pace so others can join him along the way.

Photograph courtesy of Kathryn Schmidt

Larry Grogin sees a country divided. He’d like to help bring it together—on foot.

Starting July 19, the Franklin Lakes resident plans to run 3,000 miles—from Paterson to Ventura, California—in hopes of inspiring unity among all those he encounters. 

Grogin, 64, hopes to cover about 30 miles a day, a modest and flexible pace that will allow others—runners and walkers—to join him along the way (not unlike that other long-distance runner, Forrest Gump). By engaging with others, Grogin expects to hear a collection of stories representative of the American experience.

Listening to others is a big part of Grogin’s professional life as a chiropractor and acupuncturist. Lately, his clients have been talking about the ideological differences that affect their relationships. “I’ve never experienced people being so unsettled,” says Grogin.

For his run—which he expects to complete in 94 days—Grogin has scheduled stops at civic centers and various houses of worship. In Kansas, he will meet with a group of religious leaders—a Catholic priest, a rabbi and an imam—to talk about what they have in common as Americans. 

“I think us spending [some time] briskly walking or running enables us to jump over barriers and gaps that might be between people,” he says. 

Grogin has gone the distance before in an effort to bring people together. In 2013, he was nearing the finish line at the Boston Marathon when he heard the bombs exploding. One year later, he completed the marathon, but only after running from Franklin Lakes to Boston over the course of eight days. His goal, he says, was to “take back the finish line.” 

For his cross-country trek, Grogin has the support of more than 20 sponsors, including Wyndham Hotels (which will provide lodging for Grogin for 60-70 nights) and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. 

Grogin’s nonprofit, Strides for Humanity, is using the run to raise funds for Oasis, a haven in Paterson for women and children in need. Grogin says his organization and Oasis share a similar aim of helping others achieve their potential. How much does he hope to raise? Grogin says he is “shooting for the stars.”

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