Ben Davis is not the first person to attempt to walk across the United States. A number of folks — men and women from all walks of life (ha!) — have made the journey. Most cross-country walkers and runners do it to raise funds or awareness for a cause. Nonagenarian Navy vet Ernie Andrus is running across the U.S. to raise money for a memorial of a naval ship used by the U.S. and Greek armies. Louis Michael Figueroa was 16 when he ran across the U.S. in 1982 to raise money and awareness for his friend, who was dying of bone cancer. Polly Letofsky walked across the U.S. (and eventually the world) to raise funds for breast cancer research. So what's Davis' cause? The 30-year-old is walking to avoid living a life of regret.
Davis used Google Maps to plot his walking route across the U.S. (Photo: Ben Does Life/Tumblr)
That may not sound like the loftiest of goals, but hear me out. Yes, lots of great causes need our support. But what if your cause is to simply live life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same? I'd say that holds a great deal of merit.
The important thing to note is that Ben Davis was not looking for approval when he decided to set off on his journey. He was going through a rough patch in life brought on by a recent breakup, weight gain and a general lack of direction when he came upon the idea to walk across the country.
Davis recently reached the halfway point of his adventure after walking 1,600 miles, landing just outside Kansas City. To mark the occasion, he participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where as you can imagine, the number one question asked was ...w hy? Here's his response:
"The adventure. I was in a place in life where I had the freedom to do it and once I had the idea, I realized I didn't want to end up at 80 years old wishing I had done it. The prospect of regret spurred me to research and start planning. I'm so glad I did. It's been the time of my life, truly."
A freelance writer, Davis is documenting his adventure on Instagram and keeping meticulous notes in the hopes of turning this story into book number two. (His first book, "Do Life: The Creator of #My 120-Pound Journey# Shows How to Run Better, Go Farther, and Find Happiness," got praise from the likes of Olympic marathoner Kara Goucher and Runner's World editor David Wiley.)
Davis planned his trip using Google Maps walking directions to find the shortest route between L.A. and Boston. But he's not in a rush. Along the way he's taking plenty of time to talk to strangers, see new sights and just watch the wind ripple through the grass.
Here's a video compilation of Davis' walk through Kansas:
To find out more about Davis' journey, including his budget, what he eats on the road, what scares him the most, and how he regrouped after he lost his wallet (including his ID, credit cards and all his cash), check out the AMA. And to see how his story progresses, follow @bendoeslife on Instagram. Here are a few of his finest moments thus far:
I've made it into civilization after five days of nothingness. I was getting pretty discouraged; the desert takes a toll on the mind. And on the hair... So the first thing I did was get a haircut. Tina at SuperCuts did her thing and now I feel a thousand times better. The beard is staying for now until it gets too annoying, or too Forrest Gumpy. 21 miles done today.
My very-not-clean hair and I made it to our campground after another 26 mile day. This is the worst part of the whole walk. I get so, so scared at night. I'm not even sure what I'm scared of, I'm just, I don't know, always scared once the sun goes down. I hate it about myself. So if anyone wants to camp out somewhere along the California/Nevada border, let me know.