When Jason King sets foot in San Francisco's cavernous baseball stadium AT&T Park today, he will be taking the final steps of a 5,209km journey across America.
The founder of bitcoin-powered homeless outreach Sean's Outpost will have reached the end of an ultra-marathon designed to raise funds for the charity and awareness about bitcoin that started in Miami on 26th Jan.
"It feels surreal to be ending. I feel humbled to have this opportunity to spread the bitcoin gospel and talk to so many about the homeless problems in America," King told CoinDesk yesterday, when he was just 48km away from San Francisco (a standard marathon measures 42.2km).
King set an audacious goal of raising 1,000 BTC for Sean's Outpost when he announced his run. By the time he crosses the line, he will have raised probably a fifth of that amount, but he isn't complaining.
"We raised a little over 200 coins so far, which is amazing," he said.
-- SheilaKraics (@sheilakraics) May 4, 2014
Sean's Outpost expands
Sean's Outpost has been keeping active in King's absence. Before he set off, he told CoinDesk that its full-time staff of five and team of 10 volunteers would keep it running smoothly, while carrying out expansion plans.
According to King, a new Sean's Outpost centre has now been set up in Dallas, with two more, this time across the border in Toronto and Vancouver, in the works.
Even though King may not have hit his target of raising 1,000 bitcoins for his organisation, his epic run has been an effective platform for the cryptocurrency's supporters.
His support vehicle was a bus donated by KryptoKit, the bitcoin wallet that is packaged as a Chrome extension. The vehicle is wrapped in a full-colour graphic that declares: "Bitcoin Across America. Food. Shelter. Bitcoin. Everybody". The KryptoKit and bitcoin logos are prominently displayed on the bus.
Individuals in the bitcoin world have also become involved in supporting King's run.
Paige Freeman, Vice President of Sales at BitPay, made the arrangements for the final arrival at AT&T Park, promising a tailgate party on the stadium's grounds before the home team, the San Francisco Giants, take on the New York Mets. Freeman has also organised a separate event for King in Santa Monica.
While the total donations for the run are lower than expected, King's feats have moved one man to donate a cut from the 'crowdsale' of his half-million dollar apartment.
That man, Kevin Kelly, has organised a contest called CryptoCondo with the prize being an apartment in Toronto worth $520,000. Sean's Outpost will oversee the contest results and receive a cut of the sales generated by selling tickets to enter the contest.
Mental and physical toll
In May, for example, Satoshi Forest, the nine-acre homeless sanctuary in Florida developed by Sean's Outpost, was severely flooded. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts rallied to donate funds for repairs and recovery.
The run itself has taken a mental and physical toll on King. He told CoinDesk that by the time he enters San Francisco, he would have lost nearly 33kg in weight, adding that he has also struggled with the mental aspects of the four-month-long journey:
"It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I know that sounds stupid, but I was not prepared for the loneliness and isolation of being on the road for so long. It really has given me perspective on people who are constantly having to roam."
King also had to wrestle with one more unexpected factor: bitcoin's price plunge this year after its meteoric rise at the end of 2013. For a charity dependent on the cryptocurrency for funding, its price fluctuations are of serious concern.
"The only thing that was really unexpected was bitcoin falling in price by half," he said. "Glad to see it on the rise again!"
Those interested in supporting King's efforts for Sean's Outpost can find details here.
Featured image via Sean's Outpost