MS Run the U.S.


Jay Rawlings prepares for his 7 marathons in 7 days as he takes part in the MS Run Across the US. 

I passed Ashley Kumlien around mile 30 of the North Face Endurance Challenge Madison 50 miler. It was just another race. She was just another runner. I said hi. She said hi. We probably wished each other good luck or something like that. In short, it was a non-event, something we've all done a hundred times. Little did I know that this non-event was actually to be a pivotal moment in my life.


It turns out that Ashley ran across the US, from San Francisco to New York in 2010 to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research. She did it for her mother, who has MS. My mother also has MS. And I came to find out that in 2013 Ashley was keeping the spirit of her cross-country run alive by doing a relay across the US, the MS Run the US Relay: 14 runners each running one multi-day segment of the 3000+ miles from LA to NYC, all to raise money for MS Research.

There are times in life when you want to do something and then there are times in life when you know that you have to do something.  For me, hearing about the Relay was definitely the latter. It was simply too perfect an opportunity to pass up. Until that moment running had been a largely selfish endeavor. But suddenly I was given a chance to use my passion for running to help work towards a cure for this debilitating disease, to help my own mother and all of those living with MS. So, like Ashley I decided to run for my mother. 

My mom was a runner too. Before MS. You have to understand, my mom is tough. She's a fighter like no one else I know. When she was diagnosed with MS, she didn't give up. She met it head on. She refused and still refuses to let MS get the best of her. And she's largely escaped the worst of what MS can do. She can walk without a problem. She works full-time. Her fighting spirit, her will of iron, inspires me to be better and work harder. But this disease has not left her unscathed. MS has still taken a lot from her. She can't run anymore. Not like she did. The mere thought of not being able to run is terrifying to me. I try to avoid even thinking about it. But for her it's simply a part of her reality, something she has to learn to live with. 

And so I will run for my mother. I will run for all of those who cannot run. I will walk for those who cannot walk. I will keep moving forward at all costs. 7 marathons in 7 days. 182 miles from Barstow, CA to Las Vegas, NV, through the Mojave Desert, from April 22nd to April 28th. That is my segment. That is my contribution.

When I was accepted to be a part of the MS Run the US Relay, I started looking for sponsors and partners. There was one name that came to mind immediately: Vfuel. I had 4 cases of it sitting in my cabinet right then. This is the only gel I've used since it's launch in 2011. It was the gel I used for my first 50, Quad Rock in 2012. And I probably had at least 5 packets of Vfuel stuffed in my shorts when I passed Ashley during the North Face Endurance Challenge Madison 50. I went on to finish 10th overall in 7:37, probably my best race to date.

There is no other gel I would even consider using for an event like the MS Run the US Relay. This will be more than twice as far as I had ever run in a week prior to joining the Relay. It will no doubt be the hardest physical trial of my life. The training has already been demanding in ways that I wouldn't have imagined. It's taken all that I've had to give. But Vfuel has carried me through it all. And Vfuel will carry me through 7 marathons in 7 days, through the Mojave Desert, for my mom and for a cure.

Vfuel is generously supporting me, my Relay segment and helping us all towards a cure. Show them your support and try some...or get a resupply.

I would also love your support for my MS Run the US Relay segment. I will keep moving forward no matter what. Will you keep the march towards a cure going? Please visit 100% of donations go directly to the National MS Society for research efforts.

If you want to follow my journey, please check out my blog at



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