The next time Fresno State alumnus Ryan Stiner travels from the Bay Area to the Central Valley, instead of getting on Highway 99 south, he’ll take a detour through the mountainous terrain of Patterson Pass near Tracy.
The 10-mile stretch is well-known for its hilly structure, narrow lanes and scenic views. Stiner will have plenty of time to take it all in, because he won’t be driving.
He’ll be on foot.
Stiner, an avid runner who’s competed in several marathons and long-distance runs, plans to journey from San Francisco to Fresno starting Thursday – 190 miles in 10 days – as part of a fundraising campaign for Fresno State’s Autism Center.
That pace equates to 19 miles per day, a daily mileage of almost three-fourths of a full marathon.
“It’s going to be an extreme challenge,” Stiner said. “I’m not sitting here thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk. This is a huge challenge. That’s part of the enjoyment. I wanted to challenge myself.”
Stiner was on campus Tuesday to meet with some of the children who will benefit from his donation to the Autism Center.
A 2011 graduate of the Craig School of Business, Stiner said the idea was one of those flashbulb moments. Three weeks ago, he said he came up with the concept of tackling the 190-mile run. Shortly after, he decided to run for a cause.
And a couple of days after that, he was driving up and down the Valley and the Bay mapping out his route.
“Three weeks ago this is an idea – literally three weeks ago,” Stiner said. “And right now, we’re almost there.”
Except for Patterson Pass, where Stiner said he will likely have a friend tail him in a car because of the pass’s steep inclines and declines, he will be running solo.
The challenge was pieced together spontaneously, but that had only a minimal effect on training for Stiner, who said he’s running an average of 80 miles per week heading into the run.
“With partners like Ryan, we are afforded the opportunity to donate the equivalent of 1,500 hours of early intervention services a year to families in need while providing over 40,000 hours of direct service to the community,” said Timothy Yeager, director of the Behavioral Sciences Institute that’s overseen the Autism Center since it opened in 2007.
Organizers set a $5,000 fundraising goal, though that will likely be eclipsed by Nov. 8, when Stiner is expected to arrive in Fresno. As of Tuesday, the run had raised about $4,300 in donations, Stiner said.
People are encouraged to join Stiner on the final leg of the run – the four-mile stretch from Woodward Park to Bulldog Stadium. His “finish line” will coincide with the football team’s Homecoming game against San Jose State.
Stiner will take a “minimalist” approach and carry only the bare necessities with him on the road: a GPS watch that will detail his progress via his Facebook page, cash, a debit card, headphones, his smartphone, an extra battery for his smartphone and a specialized backpack where he will carry it all. He’s still debating using the backpack, which will likely chafe him when he reaches the homestretch in his daily runs.
His 190-mile run was inspired in part by Forrest Gump, who in the Academy Award-winning eponymous film trekked the country on foot for years donning a cap, long and untamed beard and dirty running shoes.
“On Friday, for Halloween, I’m going to dress up as him,” Stiner said.
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/22222. KFSR 90.7 and The Collegian will be partnering with Stiner through his run.