Cole Crosby Completes First-Ever Solo OG Route During The Speed Project
May 03, 20236 min read
No rules, no spectators, and no designated route. This mysterious running relay race is one that few have heard of, fewer have competed in, and even fewer have yet to do solo. The Speed Project is a relentlessly brutal route from Santa Monica to Las Vegas that attracts runners from all over the world.
We caught up with Swiftwick ambassador and record-breaking athlete Cole Crosby, who completed the first-ever solo “OG Route” during The Speed Project on March 24, 2023.
346 Miles Run / 17,000k of Vert / 92 Hours, 57 Minutes / 1 Runner / 3 Crew aka Family
I remember, as kids, challenging our friends to run from one end of the street to the next. We would say, “I will race you to the bunny trail and back” (we had a little walking path down the street from us in our neighborhood). Those memories stick with you.
Now as a vibrant 34-year-old, I did the same thing except, well, longer. I ended up racing with a bunch of new friends as we left the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, and our endpoint would be: The Welcome to Las Vegas sign. That is The Speed Project.
What started as a team relay 10 years ago has now evolved into a full-blown gathering of 69 relay teams and, this year, 12 brave Solo runners, who would run the entire distance of their choosing to Las Vegas, all on their own two feet.
Like the Barkley marathons, the Speed Project lives in mystery. As an unsanctioned event, the premise is to gather and see what is possible. How fast can we run from LA to LV? There are almost no rules and definitely no spectators. Your only rules are not to break the law or run on any interstate highway. Smaller highways are okay but are cautioned. You have to know someone that knows someone that knows someone in the inner circle to even get an application, and then to be picked is the next big step.
I was lucky to be chosen. For my personal quest, it was not about trying to be the fastest from LA to LV, but rather the first. No Solo runner had ever completed the “OG” route, the original relay route that inspired the whole event 10 years prior. The total distance, 341 miles in length, is much farther than the usual routes solo runners take. Many solo runners in the past often searched for the shortest route, which many this year completed 288-300 miles. That goes the same for the relay too, but there are still quite a few relay runners that run the “OG” route.
Our east coast crew assembled: my wife Ashlee, the “boss,” Kelsey, the “storyteller,” and Desandra, the “Navigator.” We headed out to Los Angeles to get this run going. I packed every pair of Swiftwick socks I owned, about 20+ pairs, because you never know what style of Swiftwick you might need in the heat of Death Valley.
Day 1: Santa Monica Pier to Helendale, CA
122 miles in 24 hours
On Monday, March 20th, at 4 am, I set off on my 341-mile journey from LA to Vegas. With my crew in our suite A-class RV rental, we worked our way up through the Hollywood hills to North Hollywood, then towards Santa Clarita. I started the run with a pair of Swiftwick Aspire Zeros, and they managed the misty weather well. Day 1 felt routine as I made sure I was well-fueled, well-lubed, and that my feet were in excellent shape. We ran through Soledad Canyon, which was really cool, as we continued into the desert town of Adelanto. By nightfall, it was time to run on some desert dirt. I switched socks to the MAXUS Zeros because the cushion is perfect for those long efforts, and we continued full-steam ahead. After a nice hour and a half nap in the town of Helendale, we hit the start of Day 2 strong. On day 1, I had run 120+ miles which could place or win many 24-hour track races. I was out to a fast pace, and for Day 2, my plan was to continue that strong pace but with more control.
The first half of the OG route was lots of busy streets, roads, lots of dirt, wind, and the occasional pack of dogs barking in their yards. As the time ticked on, my feet still felt and looked amazing. Every 40 miles, we would do a sock change, and each time, my feet showed no signs of blisters or problem areas. It was a miracle.
Day 2: Helendale, CA to Dunn, CA - ATV off-road section
87 miles in 24 hours
We entered Barstow, a town on Historic Route 66. Everything was clicking, but Barstow offered a unique challenge. The wind coming from the nearby mountains was gusting into town ferociously. So much so that my hat blew off, and my KT tape on my knee blew right off. Would my socks be next?
As we left town, we crossed through what looked like a desert, and the sand was whipping around like a true full-blown sandstorm. Am I in the Sahara? I thought to myself. The next section would be my first trail section which the crew would not be able to access. I entered the ATV trail with the wind whipping at 70mph and did my best to navigate through the terrain. At this point, I made the switch to my Swiftwick VISION Impression Death Valley socks, and they did great to keep out debris while also allowing my feet to breathe in the hot sun. After I survived this section, I was reunited with my crew. I ate a ton of French fries, and off we went to Yermo Road.
The halfway point: 175 miles into this run, the volume of trucks and cars ceased. Finally, I was getting the TSP experience I had seen on the internet. Wide open roads, desert, and just a slower pace of life in an incredible environment. We dodged some strong thunderstorms, and we all napped as we waited out the weather. Once clear, we hit the nighttime stretch. I felt rejuvenated here as I navigated more ATV sections alone. After this stretch, it would be to Baker and then off to Death Valley.
Day 3: Dunn, CA to Tecopa, CA - Death Valley section
72 miles in 24 hours
Day 3 brought the beginnings of Death Valley. Death Valley and the Badwater Basin are known for being one of the driest places on Earth. It’s also the location of the lowest elevation and hottest ever recorded temperatures in the world. What was I getting myself into? I ran into Baker early morning before the sun and heat would be rising. It was still cool for Death Valley. 70 degrees, but the intensity of the sun and the bone-dry air added a new element of toughness. This stretch would be a 48-mile-long stretch in the heat of the day. This next stretch was tough. We pushed through and had to take an afternoon nap to cool off from the sun.
As each stage of the run progressed, the difficulty grew harder and more advanced. We hit a devastating hill climb in the middle of the night through sleet, rain, and wind that tested my mental resolve and my feet. But with Swiftwick, my feet never suffered. In fact, they thrived. As each mile progressed, my feet felt unharmed and just plain tough.
Day 3.75 Tecopa, CA to Las Vegas Sign
65 miles in about 20 hours
Our final day of TSP brought us through another big climb that opened us to a magnificent valley below. And at this point, we could see nothing but snow-capped mountains in the distance. Our crew jammed out to music, blasting through the exterior speakers of the RV as I did my best to run and dance at the same time. We hit a hot stretch where I had to hop into the RV and cool off my legs and feet as the surface temperature from the pavement was radiating 90-plus degrees.
After this stretch, a major uphill climb would take me to the high point of the course at 5,700 feet in a span of 10 uphill miles. I switched once more to another pair of MAXUS Zeros socks and attacked the long uphill. Another successful climb brought me to the summit just as the sun was going down, and now just 24 downhill miles awaited me. I gave it everything I had to the finish. Running on fumes, I ran the final 4 miles right to the Las Vegas sign with my wife and crew boss, Ashlee. A record finish of 346 miles in 92 hours and 57 minutes, beating the old overall solo record by an hour. We had done it.
The lesson here is that foot care is essential to success in these longer races. Ever since relying on Swiftwick late in the Cocodona 250 to get me to the finish line with battered feet, I have not looked back. 346 miles and virtually no real blisters were the results of my TSP OG route record run. It goes to show that finding the right sock for you matters. Thank you, Swiftwick!
We had the chance to sit down with Eric Hill, founder and president ofProject Echelon, a 501c3 veterans non-profit that engages, equips, educates, and empowers veterans and their families through physical activity and self-discovery.
In honor of Veterans Day, your purchases will help support Project Echelon.
If you've got active friends and family on your gift list, we've got you covered. Welcome to Swiftwick's 2023 Holiday Gift Guide, where we're not just talking socks (although we've got some fantastic ones) but a whole array of gift ideas that’ll leave them jumping for joy. Let's dive in!