Sister act: athlete and nun team up for charity

Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:03am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Endurance runner Lisa Smith Batchen likes going to extremes. She has run through Death Valley nine times and raced 150 miles across the Sahara Desert.

Now on the verge of her 50th birthday, she's adding altruism to athletics, along with a dash of spiritual uplift from her longtime friend, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd.

Accompanying Smith Batchen as she seeks to become the first athlete to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states, will be Lloyd, a 61-year-old nun with the Religious Teachers Filippini Order in New Jersey who will run-walk in full habit and sneakers.

The event, dubbed Running Hope through America, is due to start today in New Jersey and end in Wyoming on June 19.

The goal is to raise $1,000,000 for orphaned children in Haiti, Africa, Indonesia, South America and the United States.

"It's absolutely in my career the last big thing I plan to do," said Smith Batchen, who in 2008 established the Idaho-based Dreamchaser Foundation to encourage amateur and professional athletes to use their passion for sports to charitable ends.

"Deprivation will kick in. And it's all on cement! I can't do it on trails," she said.

Even if there's no salvation from that cement, she's got Lloyd for inspiration. And the sight of a fully uniformed race-walking nun should draw donations and support from the curious.   Continued...

<p>Lisa Smith Batchen and Sister Mary Beth Lloyd at Batchen's 310-mile run through Death Valley in a 2008 photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>