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Edmond North cross country coach runs across Oklahoma while 'living on gas station food'

James Strahorn is trying to become the first person to run across Oklahoma from north to south.  [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
James Strahorn is trying to become the first person to run across Oklahoma from north to south. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

James Strahorn is running across the state.

The new Edmond North cross country coach will be the first person to run from the Kansas border to the Texas border when he completes the last leg of his four-day, 260-mile jog late Thursday.

"No one has ever ran north to south so I am trying to be the first to do it," said the 27-year-old Strahorn, an ultrarunner who has competed in several 100-mile events.

Strahorn, who was Guthrie's cross country coach the past three years, has logged more than 60 miles each of the past three days since starting the journey at 6 a.m. Monday on the Kansas border at SH-177. He made it to Pauls Valley late Wednesday where he stayed in a hotel overnight and will resume the run at 6 a.m. Thursday.

He will then run 70 miles on Thursday to the finish line, the Oklahoma-Texas border.

"It's a little bit bigger of a chunk on the last day, but I think I can get it done," said Strahorn, who decided to run across the state after the 100-mile race he planned to enter this summer was canceled because of COVID-19.

Strahorn was inspired to run across Oklahoma from Kansas to Texas by Tulsa ultrarunner Justin Walker, who also ran across Oklahoma, but from west to east. Walker ran from the New Mexico border in the Oklahoma Panhandle to the Arkansas border at West Siloam Springs. Walker ran 511 miles in eight days.

Strahorn's quest is being tracked by the website, Fastest Known Times, which establishes and keeps running records for different routes across the world. Strahorn keeps GPS coordinates on his wristwatch to document his run. He also takes photos of welcome signs as he passes through Oklahoma towns for supporting evidence.

"And I want to take a lot of photos for myself, too, so I can remember it," he said.

Strahorn said 95% of his run across central Oklahoma will be on State Highway 77, with some zig-zags on county roads and city streets along the way. He decided not to run along I-35 for safety reasons.

On the first three days, Strahorn has cruised through the towns of Blackwell, Tonkawa, Perry and Guthrie — where several of his former cross country runners joined him for a few miles — Edmond, Oklahoma City, Del City, Norman, Noble, Slaughterville, Lexington, Purcell, Wayne and Paoli before spending Wednesday night in Pauls Valley.

On Thursday, he will run through Wynnewood, Davis, Springer, Ardmore, Marietta and Thackerville before hopping on I-35 for the final few hundred yards on the bridge over the Red River into Texas.

Strahorn, who grew up in Blackwell, drove portions of the route before Monday to find convenience stores and service stations where he could stop and refuel. On his wristwatch, he keeps GPS coordinates of the service stations and stops about every 10 miles for more water and high-calorie snacks, such as honey buns and nuts. He tries to consume 6,000 calories a day.

"I am living on gas station food during the day," said Strahorn, who supplements the gas station meals with electrolyte tablets.

He wears a hydration pack with water pouch and orange safety vest while running, beginning his day at 6 a.m. He averages just under 11 minutes a mile each day. He stops before dark and spray paints the spot where he finished so he can begin the next day's run at the same location.

"I don't run until exhaustion," Strahorn said. "You got to save it. You have to have a little juice in the battery the next morning."

After the first two days, Strahorn was picked up by his wife, Tricia, who drove him back to their home in Edmond to sleep overnight. He would eat a high-calorie dinner and take an ice bath before getting in bed by 9 p.m. He would rise early the next morning to return to the location where he stopped running to start again.

When he completes the final leg of his goal late Thursday, Strahorn's mother, who lives in Melissa, Texas, will pick up him up on the south side of the Red River and deliver him back home to Edmond, where he will have all the time he wants to rest and recover after doing something no one else has ever done.

Related Photos
<strong>James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday. Strahorn, the new cross country coach at Edmond North High School, is running across Oklahoma from the Kansas border to the Texas border. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</strong>

James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday. Strahorn, the new cross country coach at Edmond North High School, is running across Oklahoma from the Kansas border to the Texas border. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0032af2ccd677cf2fbf2ea5677872be3.jpg" alt="Photo - James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday. Strahorn, the new cross country coach at Edmond North High School, is running across Oklahoma from the Kansas border to the Texas border. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday. Strahorn, the new cross country coach at Edmond North High School, is running across Oklahoma from the Kansas border to the Texas border. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday. Strahorn, the new cross country coach at Edmond North High School, is running across Oklahoma from the Kansas border to the Texas border. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-609b79c06630d3cf7c022da165b48a17.jpg" alt="Photo - James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday on the second day of his four-day run across Oklahoma. He expects to reach Texas late Thursday after starting on the Kansas border Monday morning. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday on the second day of his four-day run across Oklahoma. He expects to reach Texas late Thursday after starting on the Kansas border Monday morning. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> James Strahorn runs on North Air Depot Boulevard in Edmond on Tuesday on the second day of his four-day run across Oklahoma. He expects to reach Texas late Thursday after starting on the Kansas border Monday morning. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-84840599fe36e6140b82641561224aa6.jpg" alt="Photo - James Strahorn is trying to become the first person to run across Oklahoma from north to south. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" James Strahorn is trying to become the first person to run across Oklahoma from north to south. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> James Strahorn is trying to become the first person to run across Oklahoma from north to south. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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