JIM PETERS: Chesterton trio of teachers to run across Indiana for colleague Dan Paff

2014-04-17T17:00:00Z 2014-04-17T23:18:07Z JIM PETERS: Chesterton trio of teachers to run across Indiana for colleague Dan PaffJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 17, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

When George Mallory climbed Mount Everest in 1924, he was asked why he did it.

"Because it's there," Mallory simply replied.

That same adventuresome spirit has spurred Chesterton teachers Dave Milligan, Steve Kearney and Nancy Furcsik in their endeavor to run across the state of Indiana over Christmas break.

"We all like challenging ourselves all the time," said Milligan, a veteran of nine marathons, including Boston, and an Ironman Triathlon qualifier in 1993. "We're all cardiovascular nuts."

Milligan, who had biked another route previously, brainstormed the east-to-west trek of approximately 153 or so miles a while back to Kearney, a region distance running icon. In the process, he learned that Kearney had actually traversed the state the longer way, north to south. Furcsik, a comparative novice, teaches across the hall from Milligan at Chesterton High School and immediately asked to join in the journey, which will be divided into 15-mile increments over 10 days.

"They're extreme runners, I do other extreme things," Furcsik said. "I like pushing myself. It's 'easier' to run Indiana. It's really flat."

Within the last few weeks, the trio decided to do the run to aid fellow teacher Dan Paff, who has incurred exorbitant medical expenses for surgery and therapy. Donations to The Dan Paff Cancer/Run Across Indiana Fund can be made between in advance of the run at www.giveforward.com.

"Dan is our comic stress relief," Furcsik said. "He's very passionate about everything he does, everything he teaches. This will give us more incentive to kick butt."

The logistical aspect of the run has already begun with Milligan gathering maps. The trio plans to begin at Sibley Blvd. on the Indiana-Illinois line and follow a route east, finishing several miles east of Angola. Milligan will drive it this summer while Furcsik intends to bike it for a feel of the terrain.

"There are some busy roads in Lake County," Milligan said.

Kearney, meanwhile, has been sidelined by a fractured humerus in his right arm, but is confident he will have plenty of time to get back up to speed.

"I was 21 when I broke my leg in college on May 1. On December 1, I ran the Atlanta Marathon and got ninth place," he said.

Of course, that was over 40 years ago. Kearney, who has done Boston several times, hopes to be on a stationary elliptical next week. He ran a 5K and 12 1/2 additional miles the day before the mishap.

"You can lose about half of your fitness in two weeks, and in four weeks, it's about gone," Furcsik said. "But it comes back as quick if you're training hard again."

In the meantime, Milligan intends to contact hotels along their trek about donating overnight stays to the cause. They also wouldn't be opposed to staying in a mobile home/trailer if someone has one to loan. The group hopes to acquire other contributions of running gear and apparel as well as sponsorships.

Friends and colleagues have already expressed an interest in participating and their response is, the more, the merrier.

"People can jump in and out at any point," Milligan said.

As for the possibility of running in the teeth of a northern Indiana winter, they express no fear, noting that rain is worse to deal with than snow.

"We've all run in our fair share of bad weather," Furcsik said.

"Just call us the Blizzard Busters," Milligan said.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

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