Miles for Minds

 

By Laura Meader
Photography by John Meader
 

The highway between Boston and Waterville is well worn by Colby students and alumni. But few make the trip the way Emily Wagner ’08 has: running all 191 miles.

Wagner ran from her home in Medford, Mass., to Mayflower Hill in 15 days to raise money for the Central Asia Institute (CAI), the nonprofit organization of Greg Mortenson, coauthor of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time and Colby’s 2009 commencement speaker. From May 16 to 30 Wagner tested her endurance by running a daily average of 15 miles. Emily Wagner

“Whoa,” she said on Miller lawn moments after arriving on Mayflower Hill, “I just ran from Boston to Waterville.”

The idea for the run, which Wagner dubbed Miles for Minds, formed in January while visiting friends at Colby. Wagner mentioned a desire to run from her house to Boston—seven miles. Misunderstanding, one friend thought Wagner wanted to run from her hometown of Pittsfield, Maine, to Boston. They all laughed. But Wagner thought about it later and asked herself, “Why not?”

Wagner, 22, used the run to increase awareness for CAI. Her respect for Mortenson’s work, and her desire to “help kids—especially girls—in the developing world realize their educational dreams,” gave birth to Miles for Mind and Wagner’s goal to link her love of running with a belief in positive change.
 
A graduate student at Tufts, Wagner mapped out her route and recruited friends and family as road crew to drive a pace car, which pulled ahead to meet her for water and snacks. She stayed nights with her crew, spending just one night in a hotel.

Wagner allotted herself one day of rest, May 24, when her roadie, Laura Webb ’08, drove Wagner to Waterville to hear Mortenson speak at commencement. The next day Wagner resumed her run, reaching Colby five days later with just one blister on her foot.

“It’s over,” Wagner said, still catching her breath. “Four and a half months of planning and now it’s over.”

Yet the work is never done. After raising $990 for CIA, she hopes to support the organization in the future. In the meantime, Wagner has given new meaning to a road well traveled.
 
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