Although The P.A.C.E. Fitness
Foundation was incorporated in June 2009 (and designated as a
non-profit organization), the journey to its
creation actually began four years earlier. During the summer of
2005, founder and president Paul Staso had a bedtime discussion with
his then 10-year-old daughter, Ashlin, about
the fitness level of kids. From that discussion a challenging
project was created... and a very unique promise was made. Both the
challenge and the promise would ultimately form the cornerstone of
what has now become The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation.
“My coast-to-coast run across 15 states during the summer of 2006 was to keep a promise
I had made in September 2005 to 4th
and 5th grade students at Russell Elementary School in Missoula,
Montana,” Paul says. “During the summer of 2005 my then 10-year-old daughter, Ashlin, and I had a discussion
about youth fitness. She wanted to do something to help get the kids in her class more active and fit, so we
created a virtual run/walk across America curriculum – from Oregon
Paul developed an extensive web site for the kids’ 9-month
undertaking, which remains online at
and many schools across the nation adopted the curriculum.
2006 Solo Run
Across U.S.A. Music Slideshow
Can't See The
Once the video is playing, right
click on the player's control bar (in gray)
at the bottom to choose "Zoom > Full Screen" option.
project that Paul and his daughter (shown in the picture to the
left) brainstormed eventually drew the
attention of governors and senators, who wrote letters of compliment
and encouragement, and local media sources followed the kids’
progress during the 2005-2006 school year. Letters and online
guestbook entries poured in from teachers, parents and children
worldwide applauding the project. Paul's research had shown that an individual elementary grade in the
United States had not yet accomplished a documented virtual
coast-to-coast trek across America within a single school year. In an
effort to motivate the two “teams” participating in the daunting
9-month trek (which were the 4th grade and 5th grade students at
Russell Elementary), Paul made a very unique promise to the
either class could accomplish the virtual 3,200-mile journey before the end of the
school year, he would run their route across America for real… solo.
It was a
promise that Paul was willing to work hard to keep should the kids
be successful. So, as the kids ran and walked throughout the school year
often in Montana's snowy winter conditions dipping down to zero degrees
Paul prepared for the possibility of a solo run across the United
Both classes proved to be very determined and each completed the
virtual U.S.A. trek in the spring of 2006
─ a few weeks before
summer vacation. The 5th grade class of 41 children (including Paul's daughter, Ashlin) completed the journey first,
with the 4th grade team of 56 students finishing second. Overall,
the first team acquired an average of 3 marathon
distances per child (78 miles) during the school year. As a result,
Paul kept his promise during the summer of 2006 and ran completely
solo and unsupported from Oregon to Delaware, a total of 3,260 miles
in 108 running days (averaging 30 miles per day).
Paul's grueling coast-to-coast trek took him over the Northern Rocky
Mountains, traversing barren plains, into numerous towns and cities,
across the steep Appalachian Mountain Range, and through the second
hottest summer ever recorded in the United States – all while pushing
"BOB", his sole companion (which was a jogging stroller containing
his gear, food and water). "BOB" stands for Beast Of Burden
and the stroller weighed a total of 80 pounds when fully stocked.
Paul became the
5th person in history to run solo from the Pacific
Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean across the U.S.A., completing his
journey on October 20, 2006 after conquering the most northerly
route ever attempted. His trek was
P.A.C.E. Run 2006(Promoting Active Children
Everywhere) and was watched online by people of all ages. The
picture to the left is a moment between Paul and Ashlin seconds
after he completed the run, keeping his promise to her and the 4th
and 5th grade students.
After completing his solo journey across America, Paul decided that
he wanted to continue motivating, inspiring and educating children
toward greater health and fitness. He also wanted to encourage kids
to learn about the world beyond their school boundaries while
developing their abilities to effectively pursue their goals and
In 2008 he accomplished a 620-mile
across Montana in 20 days, and in 2009 he completed a 500-mile
through Alaska in 18 days – virtually bringing thousands of kids worldwide along with him through his one-of-a-kind fitness
and education project called "P.A.C.E. Trek". He was back on the road
in March 2010 and conquered a 500-mile
across Germany in 21 days. And then, in April 2011, he became
the first person to run 500+ miles in a
solo run across the Mojave Desert
in only 17 days! He's planning another P.A.C.E. Trek that he'll
announce at a later date.
In an effort to carry on
the purpose from which the initial project and promise were made
between he and his daughter in 2005, Paul created The P.A.C.E.
Fitness Foundation. His hope is that more children will benefit
from the aim and mission of P.A.C.E., just
like the 68,652 children from 10 countries that have already logged
326,252 miles through P.A.C.E. projects in recent years
which equates to about 13
laps of planet earth!
In May 2008
nearly two years after Paul had completed his run across
his daughter, Ashlin, wrote a paper for a 7th grade
school assignment. The topic was to write about one
major event that had happened in her life, and to write
about it in such a way that if she were to go back and
read the story in 20 years all of the details would come
flooding back like it was just yesterday. Ashlin chose
to write about her father's promise and successful run.
Below are the words that she wrote.
by Ashlin Staso
My eyes welled up with tears
as I saw my dad running towards me. I will never forget
that beautiful day when my dad completed something that
I had always believed, in my heart, he could do. It was
that day he completed his solo run across America, and
he did it to fulfill a promise that he made to me. When
he splashed into the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, I felt
the most joy that I have ever felt in my life. Even now,
I can remember how I felt... like it was just yesterday.
I had just jumped out of the car, onto the dusty gravel.
As the car doors slammed, I continued on, and stopped a
few feet away. My siblings jogged eagerly up behind me,
and then came to a stop. We were in Cape Henlopen State
Park, standing just a short distance from the shores of
the Atlantic Ocean. The breeze was blowing, ever so
slightly. You could hear the faint sounds of birds
calling and the waves crashing. The silence seemed to
dominate everything. The day was clear and beautiful in
every way imaginable. The excitement filled the air,
because we were all waiting for someone
and that person
was my dad.
We hadn't seen him for four months,
but we had talked on the phone every night. Now, we
stood on our tiptoes, trying to catch the first glimpse
of him. After what had seemed like years of standing
there, he turned the bend, and came into our sight. With
shouts of joy and happiness we ran towards our dad.
When we neared the place where he was standing, he
reached out to each of us. We were pulled up into an
My eyes were filled with tears
that began to run down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed with
joy and emotion. He had run across the United States of
America to keep a promise that he made to me. Looking
back on it now, I realize even more clearly how amazing
that really was. He had battled pain, stress, fear and
danger in order to stay true to his word.
talked for what seemed like a few seconds, because he
was so eager to complete his journey. After we cheered
for him, he was off to complete the last mile of his
3,200 mile journey.
When he reached the boardwalk
that led out on the beach, my whole family joined him in
running. Our footsteps pounded on the wood, almost
simultaneously. We ran the last few steps together out
onto the sandy beach. The sun was shining and the clouds
were as white and as fluffy as cotton balls. The rays of
sunshine danced along the tops of the waves, glittering.
He ran straight into the clear blue waves, yelling out
in joy. I stood there on the sand and watched him splash
through the water. The contentment and happiness on his
face was incredible to see. As he stepped back up onto
the shore and looked at my family and me, his eyes
filled with tears, which began to run slowly down his
face. After the whole family had embraced him,
everything was busy. He talked to all the excited people
that had shown up for awhile before doing some
interviews and posing for pictures. There were many
people on the beach congratulating him, but I have to
say that I really didn't notice them. My whole focus was
on trying to remember every little detail of the moment
so that I would never forget it. The waves continued to
roll in slowly in a soft and soothing rhythm. Something
was different for me, though. I have to say, that the
experience was the best few minutes of my entire life.
To see him again, and to experience him accomplish a
lifetime dream of his, was truly amazing.