Purdue prof on way to log 3,100 miles in Race Across USA

March 26, 2015  

Carlson race

Bryce Carlson, a Purdue assistant professor of anthropology who studies nutrition and human evolution, has run nearly 1,600 miles since Jan. 16 when he and 11 other runners started the Race Across USA. He is currently running through Texas. (Photo provided)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University professor running more than 3,000 miles across the United States has passed the halfway point in mileage as he studies human physical endurance and raises awareness for the importance of childhood physical activity and nutrition.

Bryce Carlson, an assistant professor of anthropology who studies nutrition and human evolution, has run nearly 1,600 miles since Jan. 16 when he and 11 other runners started the Race Across USA. When Carlson and his teammates finish the run in May in Maryland, they will have finished the equivalent of running more than 117 marathons. Carlson is currently making his way through Texas. He’s run 61 days through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to date. So far, his average pace per mile has averaged under 11 minutes through the mountains, and under nine minutes per mile on flatter stages.

“So far, I seem to be responding well to the cumulative mileage and stress, and my average pace is getting faster and faster,” Carlson says. “Usually, my pacing strategy is to run at a comfortable pace, and then walk about 60-90 seconds every mile. What’s clear, however, is that the volume of the previous nine weeks is making me stronger, rather than weaker, and I’m now running more and walking less.

“The experience is beyond incredible. The scenery is amazing, and we’ve run through winter weather, through mountains and small towns. There have been some aches and pains, but the capability of the human body is truly amazing.”

Carlson can be followed on Twitter @bryceacarlson and through his blog.

During the runners’ days off for recovery, they visit area schools to promote the 100 Mile Club program, which supports opportunities to run or walk 100 miles at school each year. So far, the runners have taken turns visiting local schools.

The runners are accepting support from sponsors and local communities for food and lodging. They’ve slept in tents, community members’ homes, churches, school gymnasiums and hotels.

In the second half of the race, the runners will pass through Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. They also will stop at the White House on day 140.

In addition to running, Carlson is directing the research objectives including cardiovascular health, nutrition status and stress on the body. His research is focusing on biocultural adaptation, specifically nutrition. He’ll evaluate if and how the runners modify their diets in the context of physical and mental stress by evaluating nutritional quality, use of supplements and changing food preferences.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Grand Valley State University, Hunter College – City University of New York, Loyola University, Gettysburg College and University of Calgary are participating in the various studies. Research topics include energy balance, gastrointestinal distress, biomechanical form and injury, micobiome adaptation, cardiovascular health, sleep patterns and sports psychology. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Bryce Carlson, bryce@purdue.edu 

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