NEW YORK CITY (ABC4) – Resting in his R.V. with his two best friends, Cory Clarke and Cody Marsden, Jordan Moon is tired.
Really tired. And his feet hurt. A lot.
He’s gone from a size 10 in his favorite shoe, the Hoka Arahi 5, to a 10.5 due to the swelling in his feet. Moon also suspects his hips are out of alignment as a result of running on the subtle slope of the roads on his 3,127.6 mile journey from San Francisco to New York City.
Still, he’s feeling accomplished and proud of the work that he and his friends have done over the last two months of running – or limping – no less than 28 miles per day in a campaign to raise money for brain disease research.
The best part of his day on Friday, one day after arriving at City Hall in Manhattan? He got to sleep in. No more waking up to start his run at 4:30 in the morning.
“Today, I woke up and was like ‘Oh my gosh,’ it’s so nice that I don’t have to put on my running shoes and go out running in the rain,” Moon tells ABC4.com over the phone. “It’s been wild but it’s so good to be done.”
The day before was a special day for Moon and his crew, made even more special by the fact that it was Veterans Day. An Air Force veteran, Moon says it was impossible not to feel emotional as he approached the end of his run on Thursday.
“The greatest feeling was coming over the George Washington Bridge,” said Moon, who noted it was his first time in the Big Apple. “And right when I got on the bridge, and I looked over to my left, I could see all of downtown Manhattan. The island was absolutely beautiful. And I got goosebumps, I got tears in my eyes.”
He remembers the bridge was holding had a massive American flag, just like the one in his hands, only much larger. As he entered the city, some folks who had been following his journey on social media drove alongside, honking and giving encouragement.
When Moon arrived at City Hall on Broadway, his father, stepmother, stepbrothers, uncles, and a few family friends were there to greet him. Many hugs were given and a few more tears were shed. Moon, Clarke, and Mardsen put their hands together and did one last ‘Rob T. on three’ cheer, in honor of their close friend Rob Totora, who had passed just before the run began.
Not to mention, it was also Clarke’s birthday.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” Moon says of the celebration. “I’m telling you that I can close my eyes right now and I can picture it, it’s a moment I’ll never forget. Truly, truly amazing. And after realizing the 3,100 miles we had gone, it was just a surreal moment. I wish I could have it forever.”
The journey from the sourdough capital of the world to the triumph in New York City started in Park City, where Moon relocated to train for the run. Moving to Utah from Georgia, Moon found the high elevation and rich trail system in Summit County to be a perfect location to prepare for a transcontinental run.
“With the way the town set up the trail systems, you can get anywhere that you need to on foot,” Moon says of Park City. “It’s absolutely perfect.”
After working odd jobs and managing a ranch for action sports legend Ken Block during the day, Moon would hit the trails and run all over the area. Guardsman’s Pass, Brighton, Deer Valley, the Wasatch Crest Trail, were all frequented by Moon as part of his training.
After convincing Clarke and Marsden to leave their production business in Colorado aside for a few months, the trio packed up an R.V. and headed to the Bay Area to begin a run to raise money for the American Brain Foundation on Sept. 2.
There were many bumps in the road, some more difficult than others. Originally hoping to set a world record, Moon’s goal of getting to New York City by Oct. 12 was detailed by an ankle injury he suffered in Nevada. Even though he had to lean on a couple of hiking poles to grit through the pain at a snail’s pace, he still didn’t miss a day of moving forward.
While Moon kept his feet on the pavement, Clarke and Marsden were either close behind him or not too far in front, preparing their friend’s hydration, meals, and after the run, helping in his recovery with a massage gun and an ice bath.
Seeing Moon struggle at times, especially in Nevada, was difficult for the crew.
“Obviously, you don’t want to see your friends or people you care about in a lot of pain, with the injury and working through things,” Clarke explains. “So it was a delicate balance, just trying to make sure we could keep pushing him but not pushing too hard so his body wouldn’t shut down.”
Eventually, the pain subsided to the point where Moon was able to pick up his pace, finishing around 60 miles per day. Then, however, the mental challenge presented itself. He recalls feeling unable to continue on Day 45 while in Iowa.
“I fought as hard as I could to get my mind right and it took me seven hours to snap out of it.”
What made the difference was choosing to focus on smaller goals, taking things step-by-step, mile-by-mile, and day-by-day. Things got better mentally and physically while the team got into a groove.
Along the way, while building a following by documenting his journey on social media, Moon was amazed by the kindness he saw especially in the heartland of the country.
“Nebraska was wild to me,” he recalls. “It felt like everyone was pulling over and saying, ‘Hey, how are you doing? What are you doing? Can I help you? Do you need a ride somewhere?’ We were taken away in Nebraska just you know how nice everybody was.”
Iowa was even better.
“We had police officers pulling people over that were driving too close to me,” Moon laughs. “But that didn’t stop in Iowa, continued through the rest of the states, all the way here to New York City.”
Finally, after 71 days, and a joyous celebration on Broadway, Moon and the team are taking time to regroup and carry on. Marsden and Clarke will be flying back to Colorado. Moon is taking the R.V. down to Georgia to spend time with his family. After that, he’s heading back to Utah to his job at the ranch in Park City. Even after a modern-day Forrest Gump-like experience, the 33-year-old doesn’t plan on slowing down his running days. The next step is reaching out for a track and field or cross country coaching job somewhere in the area.
“I’ll be back doing what I what I was doing and continuing with my running career,” he says. “I really want to keep pursuing my running dream.”