My Cousin Joel: Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about my cousin Joel Metzger and his farm. Today I'd like to share a bit about my cousin Joel Runyon and his not-farm.

Joel graduated from Bethel College near the low point of the housing market crash and accompanying economic fallout, and it wasn't long before he found himself unsatisfied with a job search that seemed never to end. Then he realized that instead of waiting for life to happen to him - for good things to walk up and introduce themselves - that he could go out and seek to live a better story.

If that word story seems familiar, it's because he was inspired in part by Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a book that eventually led Miller to put together the Storyline curriculum. As you may remember from Wednesday's post, the Storyline process is what inspired me to start this blog. Apparently Donald Miller is inspiring to us half-Runyons.

After reading A Million Miles, Joel decided to shape his life around story-worthy events. Storyline calls these "inciting incidents" but Joel called it The Impossible List. He made a list of things he would have liked to do but considered impossible at the time, then set out to do them. In the several years since, he has accomplished a ridiculous number of impressive deeds that the 2009 version of Joel would probably laugh at. The list is quite extensive, so here's a sampling. He has:

  • started a successful blog
  • built a school through Pencils of Promise
  • run way too many marathons
  • gotten a "real job"
  • quit that "real job" to run his own business
  • created a program that helped me drop 16 lbs and get fit
  • pursued minimalism and owns under 100 things
  • done a lot of other cool stuff.

Joel's latest adventure is The 777 Project. In his words:

777 is an endurance, adventure and philanthropic initiative by Joel Runyon & Impossible Ventures to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in order to raise money & awareness to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise and provide opportunities to those for whom a basic education can be impossible.

The first of his 7 ultramarathons is in the books and I'm excited to see the 777 project play out from here! If you'd like to get involved, check out

*same disclaimer as yesterday: Joel didn't ask me to write this and I'm not being paid to promote him or his work in any way. I just think what he's doing is really cool.

Reminder: check out Friday's post and leave a comment with which Christmas song you want me to record this month!