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Oklahoma runner finishes sixth in cross-country run

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Five runners came in ahead of him, but Oklahoman Russell Allison was just glad to finish.

Allison, 40, placed sixth out of 11 runners who ran 3,080 miles from Huntington Beach, Calif., to New York City in Run Across America 2004.

Allison, of Norman, was the only American to complete the 71-day race when he ran into Central Park on Aug. 21. His finish time: 598 hours, 21 minutes and 20 seconds.

Bob Brown of Great Britain won the race in 510 hours, 47 minutes and 24 seconds.

``It was the hardest thing mentally I've ever began to do,'' Allison said. ``It was extremely emotional.''

Ten years ago, Allison quit the race after 12 days.

``I didn't have what it took at that time,'' Allison said of the 1994 race. ``But afterward, it was a huge burden. I knew I had to complete it someday. I just hoped and planned they would have it at the right time.''

Allison's successful family owned business, Allison's Fun Company, allowed him to attempt Run Across America again.

He relinquished day-to-day operation of the business to another employee to begin preparations for training Jan. 1.

Allison would run at least 20 miles a day and competed in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and other 26.2 mile events. Eventually he covered 252 miles across Oklahoma in five days and ran several 24-hour, 100-mile races.

Allison's wife, Robbie, and friend, Justin Verrel, drove a minivan along the route. Each night, they stayed at a hotel.

Allison says he won't try to compete again in the race, which cost him $13,000.

His perspective of the United States changed during the run, he said. He absorbed the landscape, spotting potential vacation destinations in Utah, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

``I wanted it to be fun, something I would enjoy,'' Allison said. ``Some of the runners didn't. They would put their head down, run and go.''
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