Share this article

print logo

Rotund Challenge walkers have California in their sights

California, here they are.

The three heavyweight Buffalo men who set out May 17 from Riverside with the goal of walking across the country are due to cross into the Golden State on Monday.

On or around that day, Jason Rogers and brothers Joe and Chris Cooke will set foot in the last state on their epic journey.

But their trek will be far from over. They had first set their sights on Los Angeles but along the way decided they would end their walk at the Santa Monica Pier, where they can dip their callused toes in the Pacific Ocean.

The remaining 150 miles will be difficult, they fear.

“Our spirits are good, but our feet are really bruised right now,” Cooke said. “The road we have been on for the last 50 miles is a gravel road, and it’s really horrible. There’s no shoulder, and it’s really uncomfortable.”

Arizona, the final state before California, offered postal challenges. A box of gear they mailed home was lost, and two post offices rejected packages marked “General Delivery.” That was not a problem in the dozen other states they have crossed. One package contained new shoes for Joe, a critical need.

“He should have a new pair in Parker,” the next town down the line, Rogers said mid-afternoon Friday.

Once they cross into California, they will be in more-urban areas than they are used to.

“City miles are a lot harder than walking on a deserted highway,” Rogers said.

Rogers and Joe Cooke weighed well over 300 pounds when they started their journey but have slimmed down considerably since then.

“We don’t know where our campsites are going to be or whether we are going to have to stay in motels,” Rogers said.

Joe Cooke said he has been examining the challenging California portion of the route since New Mexico. He doesn’t have the route plotted out, but knows they will be coming down on the west side of the Joshua Tree National Monument and then try to stay north of Highway 10 as much as possible, head toward San Bernardino, Hollywood and then into Santa Monica.

“I’ve been concerned with how dense the mileage is, just city after city,” said Cooke. They may be forced to draw from their “Rotund Challenge” GoFundMe account to stay in motels rather than pitch tents in the open.

And while they enjoy meeting people and telling their story, he said that takes more time in urban areas.

“In the cities, we tend to meet them back to back to back, and it’s nice, but it does add to the time.”