Johannsen running in the Missoula Marathon

Recent Winona State University graduate Michelle Johannsen is raising funds to run with the organization 4K for Cancer this summer in a 42-day run for more than 4,000 miles.

The 4K for Cancer is a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting, educating and connecting young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer.

Johannsen will run from San Francisco to Baltimore from June 15 to July 26 with a team of about 30 college-aged runners. Each runner will complete 6 to 13 miles per day in two-mile chunks. As a team they will cover about 100 miles a day.

“I was searching online for an upcoming race for something fun to do and came across the 4K for Cancer. It’s always more fun to run for a cause,” Johannsen said. “At first I thought it was a 4,000 meter run, not 4,000 miles! But when I found that out it just seemed too awesome to turn down.”

She previously has completed two marathons—the Twin Cities Marathon and the Missoula Marathon; one half-marathon; several 5K, 8K and 10K races; and the Relay for Life event in her hometown of Austin, Minn. “Short runs are great and raise a lot of money, but something this epic will hopefully get a lot more attention.”

Along the way, the runners will stop in host cities to partake in service projects, including the distribution of chemo care packages to patients at cancer communities. Runners will also award college scholarships funded by the donations raised by the runners. “We award scholarships and visit cancer communities along the way to establish relationships with the people we are trying to help,” Johannsen said.

Each runner must raise a minimum of $4,500 dollars by May 2014. Johannsen has already raised more than $1,000. Donations are accepted online and via mail and support the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults’ efforts and initiatives.

Johannsen is looking forward to all the people she will meet and places she will see across the country, particularly on the west coast since she’s never been there. The prospect of meeting the people she’s helping also adds to her excitement. “A lot of times with charities you donate your money and that’s all, you don’t see anything past that. We get the privilege of actually meeting the people we’re helping,” she said.

Johannsen graduated from WSU in fall 2013 with a degree in cell and molecular biology major. She currently resides in Owatonna, Minn., and is applying to graduate schools to pursue a degree in health and human performance with the hopes of working with Olympic marathon runners to improve their performance.

Follow Johannsen before, during and after her run at To donate to her 4K for Cancer run, visit