When Hallie Schmidt of Catonsville pulled into Baltimore Sunday after a journey across the country, she was glad to see a familiar face — her dad's.
"This past week, I've been struggling," she said. "It was great to have my dad here at the finish."
Schmidt joined the Ulman 4K for Cancer — that's 4,000 miles — to honor her father, Scott, a cancer survivor. Schmidt and 21 other runners left San Francisco on June 15, and the group has been running in pairs, taking on sections of a cross-country journey that culminated Sunday with a final run to Federal Hill Park.
"I did this run for him, and every once in a while, I wrote 'DAD' on the back of my legs to keep myself moving and remind myself why I'm doing this crazy thing," Schmidt said, sporting the penmanship on her calf. "So, it's for him."
Each runner raised at least $4,500 through pledges and sponsorships, with proceeds benefiting the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that works to raise money and awareness for support, education and scholarships for cancer patients and survivors ages 18 to 40.
Through the run and four other events this year — four cross-country bike rides — the Ulman organization expects to raise more than $800,000, according to organizers. The Ulman organization was started about a decade ago by Doug Ulman, a three-time cancer survivor, according to the organization's web site.
For the run, participants traveled together, being ferried in two vans as pairs took turns running segments. Through the various legs of the journey, each runner tackled 10 to 16 miles a day toward the total of 4,000-plus miles.
"These runners are awesome," said Krissy Kraczkowsky, director of Ulman's Awareness Through Sports initiative. "They gave of 30 days out of their summer to support our mission."
On Sunday, the runners were greeted by friends and family with a party at the end of their journey. Some said dealing with the Baltimore heat and a final hill to climb was a fitting end to the journey.
"Right now, I want to be home and I want to be done," Schmidt said.
"But I think I'm really going to start to miss every step of the way that we went through," she added. "It was really inspiring."