By Douglas W. Motley
Twenty-year-old Crestline resident Joseph Potz, who left from Huntington Beach, S.C., on Feb. 1 on his 3,000-mile run across the U.S., continued his cross-country trek to raise funds to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.
When Joseph arrived in Bishopville, S.C., he toured the historic South Carolina Cotton Museum. His next stop was Calhoun Falls, S.C., on Feb. 19. He had expected to make more headway; however, the devastating East Coast blizzard slowed him down.
Crestline neighbor Kris Kassouf told The Alpine Mountaineer that unfavorable weather in South Carolina had forced Joseph to alter his route further south, where he endured two days of very cold rain. In order to avoid traffic along his route, Joseph chose to stay on rural roads, she said, adding that he also chose to wear reflective clothing.
Asked whether Joseph had encountered anything interesting or unusual, Kassouf replied, “As a history major, he enjoyed visiting the Cotton Museum in Bishopville, S.C.” After running 30 miles on Feb. 19, he finally came within sight of Georgia on the far side of South Carolina’s Lake Russell. With 20 days racked up, Joseph finally found himself in the state of Georgia.
According to Joseph’s dad, Kornelius Potz, there was some stress figuring out resources along the way, such as the location of campgrounds and truck stops where the family could stay the night. “We were constrained by how far he could run. There were a few campgrounds and truck stops we stayed at and, of course, there’s always Wal-Mart, which is always very accommodating.” He estimates the journey may take up to six months, depending on the exact route they choose and the weather.
By March 4, Joseph had reached Watson Mill Bridge State Park, just east of Athens, Ga. He told The Alpine Mountaineer that the harsh weather had led him to alter his direction of travel southward. “It’s been a big adventure; there was a learning curve in the beginning, but things are running smoothly now.
“During my first few weeks of running,” Joseph said, “there was some heavy snow up in the north, which led to me making the change to run through states in the south, ultimately leading to a new route, which passed through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, through 16 states in all, as originally planned, until I reach Huntington Beach, Calif.
Joseph added that he hasn’t “been clear of harsh weather by any means. The lightning storms have been incredible to watch at night but running in an area that’s under a tornado watch has made me pick up the pace to finish a run as quick as possible.
“The most beautiful area I ran through so far was along the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia, which was a refreshing break from the highway. One of the most enjoyable moments was retiring a pair of my running shoes on the Alabama Shoe Tree. This has been a test of my physical and mental capabilities, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”