Local woman runs across state for food sustainability

BY KATIE HEINE | JUNE 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jeanelle Boyer is taking it one day at a time. But the 35-year-old really wants to make it through these next two days.

Boyer is miles away from completing a 312-mile run across the state of Iowa to raise money and awareness for food sustainability. Her journey began on June 22 from Council Bluffs, and it will wrap up on Friday in Davenport.

“If I have to stop, I’ll stop,” she said Boyer. “But I don’t have to yet.”

Boyer completed the 26 miles from Willamsburg to Iowa City Wednesday, and she held a community yoga session at College Green Park.

Yoga has played a key role in her life and in her current journey across Iowa, she said.

When practicing yoga, she said she focuses on sensation and thought. And both come into play as she runs.

“There are portions where I think I am not going to make it,” she said. “And then I get to lunch.”

Boyer named her run L.O.V.E. Run, which stands for Live Optimistically, Value the Earth. So at each destination, she offers donation-based yoga and has an online site for people to contribute to two nonprofit organizations supporting sustainable agriculture — Slow Foods USA and Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Boyer said she’s raised about $4,000 of her $10,000 goal.

Though she cited a number of reasons she decided to endure a statewide run, she was inspired by her grandfather, who in 1897, walked across the world in seven years.

For now, Boyer wants to complete her journey across Iowa. The mornings are tough, she said, because she’s very sore. She has blisters between her toes, tape stuck across her knees, and a growing lump on the top of her left foot.

But among more than 80 people who attended the outdoor yoga event, she was in high spirits and was inspiring to many.

“She is beauty inside and out,” said Mary Dix, an Iowa City resident and a friend of Boyer’s.

Dix has accompanied Boyer on a few runs, though Dix was on a bike because she is recovering from an injury.

But somewhere between last night’s Downward Dogs and Sun Salutations, Dix said she was brought back to her center.

“This was like the catalyst for me to begin again,” said Dix, who plans to run the Chicago Marathon next year.

And it’s the “beautiful people” in the communities that keeps Boyer smiling, she said.

To keep pushing forward on her runs, Boyer said, she’ll sing, listen to music, and think of others who are going through tough times.

“I breathe in their suffering and breathe out joy,” said Boyer, who teaches biology at Kirkwood Community College.

Ann Seuferer, the Practical Farmers communications director, said Boyer was “every nonprofit’s dream,” because she approached the organization.

“In addition to money, she’s also raising awareness,” Seuferer said.

Practical Farmers was founded in 1985 to advance profitable, yet ecologically sound agriculture, Seuferer said.

Boyer was scheduled to depart Iowa City at 5:45 a.m. today in hopes of getting an early start toward her next destination, Wilton, and to beat the heat.

And although Boyer said she has high hopes for completing her journey on schedule, she said she’s learned a few things during her 260 miles.

“I’ve learned to let go of any expectations,” she said.

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