In about two weeks time, the man who is running to the end of the world will be passing through New York City.
His name is Joseph Michael Kai-tsu Liu Roqueni and he is currently running across the North and South American continents, from Montreal, Canada to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina — barefoot.
His 19,000 kilometer run through 14 different countries will take approximately 18 months. He will follow the Appalachian Trail down the United States, then mostly trace the East Coast and down to Mexico before crossing over to the west coast of Central America. After, he will follow the Qhapaq Nan Trail, also known as the "Inca Trails," through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. Finally, he will cross over to the east coast of Argentina until ultimately finishing the run in Tierra del Fuego, whose providence actually included Argentina's past claim to part of Antarctica.
As he passes through each country, the donations and sponsorships he receives on his website will go to a foundation of his choice in that country. While he was running in Canada, for example, his donations contributed to Pathways to Education, an organization that helps Canadian youth from low-income communities graduate from high school.
Roqueni, 32, draws his inspiration from pre-revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevarra, who rode a motorcycle across South America and discovered his vision and ideals on that journey, according to the runner's website. Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner, dogsled racer Albert Campbell, and a 1972 Uruguayan rugby team also inspired Roqueni to take on his world-class challenge. He wanted to see the world and learn from it, he wrote to me in an email, and as a member of Concordia University's cross country team from 2007-2012 and a barefoot runner for two years, he realized that running would be "the most economical and original way of doing it."
Through his experience, he hopes "to see, to transcend, to gain, to learn, to forge and maybe inspire others" and he can't wait to see the Andes.
If you think something is impossible, it could just be that nobody has tried doing it yet, he added. "Being the first one is a huge risk but makes impossibility just a word."