This 94-year Old Has Just Finished Running Coast to Coast Across the US

Ernie Andrus Coast 2 Coast Runs

My name is Ernest (Ernie) Andrus. I’ve been running 5 & 10 K”s, one 17 K, 2 half marathons, 7 200 mile relays and coast to coast across the US. I ran my first half marathon when I was 87 and my first 200 mile relay at 88. I finished my coast to coast run one day after my 93rd birthday.

I was born on my grandmother’s farm in 1923 near Severance in Kansas, USA. Lived on our family farm boarded on the Missouri River (on the Kansas side) until 7 years old. Lived on Kansas farms in Donaphane and Brown Counties, Kansas. Moved to Kansas City, Missouri age 10 through 11 then moved to Hiawatha, Kansas. Moved to Los Angeles at 14. I graduated from High School in Los Angeles. Most of our moving was brought on by the depression.

By the time I graduated from High School, I had attended five schools in Kansas. Two in Missouri and three in California. We were at war by the time I graduated. I joined the Navy during my senior year and my diploma was mailed to me. The first three schools I attended were one room, one teacher and 8 grades. One of those schools only had five students, three of which were my two brothers and me.

I volunteered for the Navy Hospital Corps and served the duration of World War II in the Pacific. I made 4 deployments. 3 aboard a Troop Transport taking replacement troops over and bringing wounded back. We transported John Kennedy from New Caledonia to Espirito Santos. I spent the last half of the war on the LST 124 Island hopping. (Taking the islands back from the Japanese).

After the war, I attended UCLA on the GI bill until I started raising a family, then I used the GI bill to train for drug store management. I spent most of my working life in retail drug and grocery store management.

I have been retired for 33 years and am now living on the Sun Lakes Country Club, Banning, CA.

Ernie Andrus Coast 2 Coast Runs

How and why did you get into running?

My mother told me I got on my feet at 8 months and I didn’t walk, I ran. I always ran everywhere. It was just my nature. I have outlived three wives. My second wife talked me into slowing down so I learned to walk when I was forty. I was raising seven girls when my son was born. This kid had so much energy he kept me on my toes. When he was 4 years old, he started T-ball then it was like, “Come on, dad, let’s go work out.” I started running again. I felt so much better I decided never to stop again. I’m 94 now and still running 13 miles a week.

I ran my first 10K after I retired at 61, I retired in 1984 and the Olympics came to Los Angeles so I ran the Olympic Torch Bearer run in Hunting Beach, CA. I enjoyed it so much I ‘ve been running every chance I get.

A friend (Ken) told me about a fellow running across every nation. He came through Prescott, AZ. and he put him up over night. I thought, “What a great adventure that would be. Maybe I’ll run across the US”. Ragnar was having a 200-mile relay from Prescott to Phoenix. A niece was running. I went to see her off. They were all having so much fun I decided to try and get on a team the next year. I wasn’t able to find a team. The following year, I was running a 17K. Ken was helping put on the run. I told him I’d sure like to do the Ragnar. He said, “You may be in luck. There’s a gal running here today that’s getting up a team. I’ll introduce you”. He introduced me to the captain and she said I’ll take it up with the crew and let you know”. She called me later and said they voted 100% for you. We ran from Wickenburg, AZ to Phoenix. This was the most fun run I’d ever done.

They featured me in their Ragmag magazine and I was getting so much attention people wanting my autograph and wanting pictures taken with me I thought, “If an 88-year-old running a relay gets this much attention, how about a 90-year-old running coast to coast and maybe I can raise enough money to take our LST back to Normandy for a memorial service”. The LST we have now is identical to the one I served on during the war. 1,051 LST’s were built during World War II. This is the only one left that is operational. We found it on the Isle of Crete in the Greek islands. We spent 4 months cleaning it up, repairing and making it sea worthy and brought it back to the U.S. on it’s own power. You can see the History Chanel documentary on YouTube of us bringing this ship back (The Return of LST 325) or you can purchase Captain Robert Jornlin’s book (Bringing Back a Hero).

Ernie Andrus Coast 2 Coast Runs

How do you plan your runs?

My hobbies were always planning and anything to do with figures. I did income taxes for over 30 years just to keep my mind active. I bought one of the first IBM computers and wrote programs in Basic. I read Harry Browne’s books and a few others on investing. Using this information, I wrote programs so the computer could tell me when to buy, sell or trade so I could spend my retirement doing other things without having to be constantly following my investments. This increased my investments enough that when I decided to run across America, I didn’t have to worry about financing. I bought a new RV and tow car. I would park my RV in a camp ground and move it about ever month or so. I lived in my RV and used the tow car for commuting. I decided my runs would be a minimum of 3 miles and a maximum of 10 miles. I would run Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

On the days I didn’t run, I would drive to the start, decide how far I wanted to run, then drive the distance and start looking for a place to park at least one car. I would plan a few weeks ahead then go back a few times and make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes. I always posted on Facebook the course, start time and distance asking for runners to join in and volunteers to either escort or give me a ride back to my car. If no one showed up, I’d run to the finish and hitch a ride back to the start. I found leaving the car at the finish and hitching a ride to the start worked better because an old man standing beside his car with his thumb out appears to be a break down and some good Samaritan will stop to help.

How do you eat and sleep?

I do a few calisthenics when I first get up in the morning to get the heart pumping. Outside of running, 3 days a week that’s the only exercise I do. Except the days I don’t run, I do some weight lifting to keep the muscles built up in my legs because my cartilage are pretty worn out. I never take vitamins, food supplements or pain relievers. I’ve never been able to drink water. I try but if I force myself I might manage 12 ounces in a week. I count on other fluids like juices or soft drinks. I tried gatorade but found I was allergic to it. I have no particular diet. I eat what I like and I like everything. I average about 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night and usually take a nap or two during the day.

Ernie Andrus Coast 2 Coast Runs
Ernie with wife

How did you finance your runs?

I have had over a thousand people wanting to sponsor me by giving me money and other gifts. I received 996 sponsor donations in cash totaling $59,179.26. My expenses were $179,214.24 leaving $120,034.98 out of pocket. This includes the RV and tow car which I still have. Donations to the LST Ship Memorial were $25,135.68 that I have a record of. I have no record of donations sent directly to the Ship Memorial.

What is your favorite gear?

I have no brands to recommend. I wear Brooks shoes only because for me they’re the most comfortable. I do not recommend them because they have always ignored everyone who has asked them to sponsor me. Other companies have offered but I stick to Brooks for comfort. I do recommend Jack in the box for the best spicy chicken sandwich and the greatest thick shake.

Ernie Andrus Coast 2 Coast Runs

What is your best advice for people who want to follow your footsteps?

The worst thing I see so many walkers and runners doing is going the wrong way. You should always face traffic so you can see what’s coming at you.

Some good advice I got from Steve Fugate (This man has walked through all the 48 states many times and crossed the U.S. over and back 9 times. His most recent walk was through all 48 states in succession. He is now doing number 10, which will add up to 20 times coast to coast). His advise, “Never give up your space. The guy coming toward you is not going to hit you. He doesn’t want to get blood on his car. When he pulls over every car behind him will pull over.” I find that carrying a flag helps to move over traffic.

Ernie Andrus Coast 2 Coast Runs

What will the future bring?

At 94 years old I can’t expect to achieve much more but I’m still a planner. I plan to keep running until my pace becomes a dead standstill. I’m writing my autobiography. When I finish that I’m working on a plan to raise more money for the LST 325 Ship Memorial. My dream was to get the ship back to Normandy for a memorial service. Maybe this may someday happen. Probably not in my life time.

Visit Ernest Andrus on his website and follow him on Facebook


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2 Comments

  1. Very good. nothing to add, nothing to delete.
    My website was a three year contract donated as a means of sponsoring my coast to coast runs. The contract has expired but is not up to date. It is still a good source of how to donate. I have someone working on changing or improving he website.

  2. Cathy Andrus Ratledge says:

    My dad, my hero
    He is so good for me when I’m with him I walk 13 miles a week, other times tend to be lazy. I want to be more like him when I grow up lol.

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