RELIGION
06/20/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Nun Takes Vow To Run For Orphans

By Jim Lockwood / The Star-Ledger
Religion News Service

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (RNS) Garbed in her nun's habit and black wool tunic over a white shirt and skirt, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd did not appear to be dressed for exercise. But her running shoes hinted that "something big" was afoot.

Lloyd, 62, of the Religious Teachers Filippini order, launched a charity event with her longtime friend and former colleague, Lisa Smith Batchen, in a bid to raise $1 million for orphans by having the pair run and walk 50 miles in each of the 50 states, for a total of 2,500 miles, within 62 days.

Dubbed "Running Hope Through America," (http://www.runhope.com), the event kicked off Monday in New Jersey, where Smith Batchen, 49, an "ultramarathoner" ran a loop in a local park all day long until achieving 50 miles.

The duo were set to resume the event Tuesday in New York's Central Park and continue Wednesday in Connecticut, and so on across the nation, until finishing after 62 days--a time frame chosen because 62 miles in ultramarathons equals 100 kilometers, a race standard.

Lloyd is still recovering from losing her toenails from a foot-pounding marathon last Labor Day and has decided to walk and jog in the current 50-state event.

"My goal is to stay out six hours each day," said Lloyd, who will leave the running to Smith Batchen, an internationally acclaimed endurance runner.

The pair became friends some 28 years ago when Lloyd was a teacher and track coach at an all-girls Catholic high school and Smith Batchen became a cross-country running coach there.

Their paths eventually parted, as Lloyd in the mid-1990s went on to do missionary work overseas with the Filippini order, which focuses on educating women in poverty.

The women stayed in touch over the years, and Lloyd returned to the United States 18 months ago.

Smith Batchen, who has held charity runs before, recently told Lloyd she wanted to do "something big" for her 50th birthday. Lloyd came up with the novel twist of running 50 miles in 50 states, to symbolically honor the Filippini order's 100th anniversary in America this year.