WAUSEON, Ohio (WTVG) - Walking across the United States might just be the easiest piece of exercise Gary Cantrell will attempt in his life.
"It just seems like a natural thing to do," Cantrell said. "I'm surprised to find there are people who wouldn't like to do it. Sure, I mean you see the country. I'd rather run but I waited too long and now I'm too old to run across the country and this is what's left."
Cantrell - who is also known as Lazarus Lake in the ultra running world - is best known for his Barkley Marathons in Eastern Tennessee.
The Barkley is a 100 mile race which does not have a website where you may register. Cantrell picks the participants from essays submitted by would be runners. Forty runners begin the race but only a handful since 1986 can say they finished the Barkley Marathons through the woods with nearly 60,000 feet in total vertical elevation.
This race begins anytime between midnight and noon with runners receiving a one-hour notice to the start time by way of Cantrell blowing into a conch. Participants receive a watch, compass and map from Cantrell at the start - no GPS devices allowed on this terrain.
So are the Barkley Marathons or this walk more extreme?
"Neither one seems extreme to me," Cantrell said laughing. "The landscape is slowing changing. Just a little while back there I snapped a picture of prairie flowers. I'm interested in the geology, the trees, the wildlife, the people.
"As I came through, I've been lucky. People that are local have come out and walked with me here and there. They fill me in on things with local history. They seem astonished. I never heard of the big Black Swamp or the Oak Openings. All of that stuff that makes Toledo Toledo. By the time I walk here it will be kind of be like a home."
When most people start on one of these journeys across the country, it is to raise money for an organization or raise awareness for a cause.
"I tried to think of a cause and I kind of settled on for people who need a cause, I'm doing it to promote stopping flossing because it is a waste of time," Cantrell said. "If you're teeth are going to come out, they'll come out anyway.
"And so I wanted to get shirts made that say 'Stop wasting your time.' But the truth is, it is just a totally selfish enterprise. I really wanted the experience and just a trip."
While maybe a selfish walk following U.S. 20 from Massachusetts to Oregon, Cantrell does have a support crew through the day from those that live nearby. That includes Ron Smith from Pinckney, Mich.
"The other thing I've really learned on this trip is how good Americans really are," Smith said. "We had a young lady that none of us knew this morning who saw on the web he was coming close to town. She came up and brought a half dozen doughnuts and a couple things of coffee."
As Cantrell covers the northern 48 by foot, he offers his advice for when it is time for new running or walking shoes.
"Well when you step on a coin, if you can tell the denomination, you need to start looking for new shoes," Cantrell said. "If you can read the year, then you need new shoes immediately."