Eric Schultz left Lincoln with a backpack that held four bottles of water, a spare pair of shorts and a change of socks and underwear.
The Husker wrestler and his teammate Tyler Berger decided to walk from Lincoln to Omaha and back. Without stopping to sleep.
They started the roughly 104-mile trek on April 26 and finished it just over 49 hours later.
The endeavor, which also raised money for a local chapter of a nationwide camp, was born from a bet. Berger’s roommate said he couldn’t walk 100 miles. Berger brought it up to Schultz, and they mapped out a plan.
The teammates already were interested in testing their limits — mentally and physically — after reading the book “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins. In it, Goggins talks about running ultramarathons, which are distances longer than the 26.2 miles in a traditional marathon.
“It was all about callousing your mind and becoming mentally tougher,” Schultz said. “We were super stoked about it and ready to push ourselves both physically and mentally to see how far we could take it.”
They planned to complete the trek after wrestling season. They waited a little longer in hopes of warmer weather.
Sign up for the Live Well Nebraska newsletter
Get the latest health headlines and inspiring stories straight to your inbox.
Schultz and Berger walked along the side of Highway 6 on their way out of Lincoln. As they neared Omaha, they hopped on Highway 370 and a handful of back roads. They stopped at a friend’s house in Omaha to shower and have a cup of coffee before heading back to Lincoln.
They took breaks to rest and sometimes massage their feet. They also stopped at restaurants and gas stations to fill up water bottles and grab bites to eat. But they never stopped long enough to sleep.
By mile 22, Schultz doubted if he could finish. He saw his partner plugging along, and that was enough to motivate him.
“We both kind of just helped each other push through it,” Schultz said. “As long as the other person was still walking, each one of us was still going to push each other.”
Along the route, someone familiar with Camp Kesem suggested Schultz and Berger add a fundraising element to the walk. Camp Kesem is a camp for children who have a parent impacted by cancer. They collected nearly $600. That served as extra incentive to finish, Schultz said.
Camp Kesem organizers, who are all college students, are grateful for the wrestlers’ efforts.
“It really means a lot to have the visibility,” said Noah Brittenham, a member of the Camp Kesem team in Lincoln. “They’re students. They’re athletes. ... It means a lot that they would take the time out of their day to help the organization.”
Schultz, a redshirt junior, said he agreed with Berger that the walk was one of the hardest things he’s tackled.
“It was a cool experience overall,” Schultz said. “I think that I definitely got mentally tougher from doing it.”
Being back in Lincoln was a happy moment — and Schultz said he looked forward to taking it easy. But walking around was tough for the next couple of days.
Even the toughest homework assignments have nothing on the trek, said Schultz, who’s studying business management.
“No schoolwork will ever be as hard as that,” he said.
A roundup of inspirational stories from Midlanders with heart
There's the woman with MS who runs despite her diagnosis. The 7-year-old born without his left hand who plays baseball just like the other kids his age. The refugee who turned to Zumba to help her recover from cancer treatments. Check out their inspiring stories and others below.