Hellah Sidibe's Transcontinental Run Across America
(Last Updated 16.AUG.2021) - Want to read this article from the start? Click here)
84 days, 14 states, 3061 miles and 335,939 calories burned. Hellah Sidibe battled through 726 hours of running, tackling changing climates and numerous injuries - but he showed up each and every day "to do something bigger than the temporary pain".
Sit back, relax and checkout Hellah's incredible level of passion, positiveness and sheer grit to never quit, as he tackled the Transcontinental Run:
Fun Fact: Due to his feet swelling, Hellah's shoe size went from a size 10 to an 11.5 during this audacious challenge - hopefully they're back to his normal size now.
(Originally Published 01.MAR.2021)
No matter the circumstances.
Today will begin like any other ordinary day for Gymshark Athlete, Hellah Sidibe: he'll wake up, get dressed, lace his kicks, and run. No matter the circumstances.
Only this time, his route will see him face one of the longest miles of his career.
On March 1st, 2021, Hellah Sidibe - an athlete who has ran consecutively for over 1,200 days - will begin a challenge that only 300+ people have been documented to finish: a 3,200 mile run from one side of the United States, to the other. And he aims to complete this odyssey in just 100 days, or less.
In his feat to complete the arduous 3,200 miles from LA to NYC, Hellah will be raising money (with a target of $50K) for Soles4Souls, a non-profit organisation turning unwanted shoes and clothing into an opportunity for people all over the world.
Keep track of the action and excitement as Hellah Sidibe begins his transcontinental run across the United States.
For those of you wishing to support Hellah on his venture, please follow the link to Hellah Sidibe's JustGiving page.
Grab A Tee, No Matter The Circumstances.
Without a goal - a reason to accomplish the unthinkable - wild dreams remain just that, a dream. But when you train for years on-end and take up a challenge for something greater than yourself, well, that's when you "get up and go after it, no matter the circumstances."
You know about the challenge, you know about the cause. Now it's time to grab a little piece of history with the limited edition Hellah T-Shirt.
But that's not everything, all profits raised from these tees goes to the Soles4Souls foundation - the charity that Hellah Sidibe is running this hella' crazy challenge to raise money and awareness for.
(note: t-shirt no longer available)
A bit about the T-Shirt:
Limited edition release
Slim fit t-shirt
Dropped hem and short raglan sleeves
Printed branding commemorating Hellah's run across America
97% Cotton, 4% Elastane
Quick-Fire Q&A With Hellah Sidibe
During our interview with Hellah, we asked him a few quick-fire questions to help you understand a little more about his challenge to run across America.
Q: Have you determined your target pace? A: I’ll be aiming for a 9min - 11min p/mile pace.
Q: What do you listen to through your headphones when running? A: Although I can speak multiple languages, I’m one of the slowest readers you’ll ever meet. So, I like to listen to Audible books during runs. If it’s music, I generally listen to R&B, Afrobeats, Hip Hop, Traditional Mali songs – I have a playlist on Spotify called Hellah Beats.
Q: How many pairs of running shoes will you go through? A: I’m hoping I won’t need more than 15 - 20 pairs of shoes. I should get around 300 miles per pair, and I need to make sure I change them before they become to worn. I’ll try to lightly break in the next pair during the time I’m not running.
Q: What shoes will you be running across America in? A: I’ll be running in the Hoka Bondi 7.
Q: What tips would you give to the Gymshark community to them start their own running journey? A: Do something attainable. Don't go out there with an unrealistic distance. I started with 10 minutes. Then built up my time from there. Consistency will build and your endurance and stamina will increase. Don’t increase your weekly mileage any more than 10%.
Training To Run Across America
Running consecutively for over 1370 days isn’t easy: it’s physically and mentally demanding. But that’s exactly what Hellah has been doing for over 3 years. Building a foundation of mental resilience and physical conditioning, Hellah’s past and current running programme has set him up to take on this mammoth challenge of running across America.
But, just running won’t be enough to prepare for this challenge... “Building up a tolerance to mileage, implementing more cross-training and strength work alongside time on leg over distance.” Says Hellah, as he explains his adaptations to the training plan as he prepares to run over 3,200 miles across America, from California to New York.
Coming from a college soccer background, Hellah understands the importance of training, and how it prepares the body for physically demanding exercise – but running across America is in a whole different league.
How Will Hellah Recover Between Runs?
Hoping to clock up over 52km (that's 32 miles) each day will place significant stress on Hellah’s body. Although his level of conditioning is high – the risk of injury is prevalent, with lower-limb overuse injuries being a considerable concern in endurance running.
So how will Hellah stay fresh for each run?
His friend, fellow runner and physiotherapist, will accompany Hellah across his entire transcontinental run across America, keeping an eye on his physical state and providing expert treatment and advice throughout.
He’ll also be making use of Hyperice’s recovery equipment, including self-percussion tools and massage boots, to help increase blood flow and speed up recovery.
Anything else? Yep, our very own Gymshark Innovation team put their heads together to create a bespoke, custom pair of Gymshark calf compression sleeves just for Hellah. Designed specifically for Hellah's leg measurements, these sleeves will provide the correct amount of pressure to Hellah’s lower-limbs, reducing muscles soreness after each run and speeding up his readiness to run again (he's going to need it).
Why Run Across America, When He Can Just Continue His Running Streak In New Jersey?
Like many who set out to achieve a feat of fitness, Hellah’s challenge is laced with intent: “from this run, I want people to understand that no human is limited.
“It is possible to get up and do something that others may think is crazy. Because, at the end of the day it isn’t actually ‘crazy’. We just have a habit of making it look that way.”
Only 300+ people have been said to finish a transcontinental run across the US. From start to finish, Hellah will have to play a smart game of chess with Mother Nature – powering through multiple terrains and varying temperatures across 15 states, to become the first African American to complete the run from LA to NYC. And he aims to do it all in 100 days, or less.
The result will be a patchwork of America seen through Sidibe’s eyes. It’s inspiring – not for the associated accolades, but for its rawness and underlying cause.
As well as the having the hope to inspire people to believe in themselves, Hellah also aims to raise awareness and money for Soles4Souls – a non-profit organisation devoted to turning unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity for people all over the world.
“One pair of shoes, it’s all I need to go running. And it’s all a child needs to keep their feet safe.” Hellah tells us in a recent interview. “It’s not even about the luxury of wearing shoes. If that’s the case, the kids in Africa wouldn’t even care – it’s about the safety. I have scars underneath my feet [from when I lived in Mali, West Africa] from walking around barefoot.”
Unlike the “Local Legends” on Strava who have – figuratively, and literally - paved the way for other runners, there’s no such thing as a typical route for a transcontinental run across The States.
Having not had the opportunity to do a full recce due to COVID-19, Hellah heads into the unknown on March 1st, with a journey that will cover 15 southern states – starting West, in LA and finishing East in NYC. A feat of fitness which he predicts will take him roughly 100 days, or less to complete.
And, if running 3,200 miles wasn’t extreme enough, the 29-year-old will also be faced with alternating terrains and temperatures which will undoubtedly test both his physical and mental capacity. “I spoke to a lot of people when deciding my route across America – collectively, we decided it was best to run West to East as you’ll be able to get a tailwind, making the run a little bit easier,” says Hellah, who opted to avoid the Rocky Mountains on his route due to high altitude.
“But, if I do have to stop for any reason, even if I have to come back home, I will be going back to the exact point where I stopped so that I can finish the challenge.”
Keeping Fuel In The Tank
When we say fuel, we mean food, and, there are no cutting corners when it comes to nutrition. How Hellah fuels his body as he attempts to run over 3,200 miles will play a huge part in his performance, recovery and general wellbeing as he pushes himself to unknown limits.
Hellah tells us he’ll be aiming to consume “a minimum of 5000kcal to start, increasing my intake towards 7,000 – 10,000 calories near the end of the run”.
With so much time spent on his feet, consuming this many calories without it impacting his running will be a test in its own right, so how will he do it? During shorter breaks, Hellah will aim to take in calories through a liquid form such as smoothies, gel’s and meal replacement shakes – reducing digestion time while keeping energy levels high.
Calorie-dense foods will be the dietary staple during longer breaks, with fatty foods such as avocado and nuts alongside complete meals with carbohydrates, fats, and protein will help provide valuable nutrients and re-energise Hellah’s body and mind.
Oh, and did we mention Hellah is vegan? That’s right, so all his calories and protein will need to come from plant-based sources.
He may not have time to cook during the challenge, but here are some meat-free recipes you will love:
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A few words from Hellah...
“It is possible to get up and do something that others may think is crazy. Because, at the end of the day, it isn’t actually ‘crazy’. We just have a habit of making it look that way. “If you continue to put your best foot forward each day, you will accomplish what you set out to achieve. For some it could take 10 days, for others 10 years, but it will be possible.”
No human in limited.
Hellah, there’s only one real question left to ask… you haven’t taken a rest day in three, almost four years. When you reach NYC this summer, will you officially end your running streak and take your first day off?
“I can assure you 1000% that I will be continuing my running streak the day after I finish this transcontinental run. It won’t be 7 miles, maybe more like 2-3, but I’ll keep my streak.” – Hellah Sidibe.
Call it pride, an obsession, or an outrageously strong mentality, but this athlete's journey has only just begun.