To finish a marathon in each of the 50 States, I’ve had the vague idea that I’d run about 4 marathons a year and finish in about 10 years, give or take a few years. That’s not to say I haven’t been doing research on how to accomplish this. In fact, I’ve spent countless hours reading reviews of marathons, listing races in a Google spreadsheet, making notes, and choosing my favorite(s) for each state — but I’ve never written out an actual schedule. I knew that I wanted to finish in Hawaii (with, ideally, some friends & family to celebrate), and I also wanted to save Alaska for the end (ideally as the 49th state but knew that might be difficult with scheduling).
Last night I finally unleashed the hyper-planner in me and mapped out exactly which races I could do in which years, and how fast I might be able to cram the approximately 40 necessary marathons into the next several years. You can see my schedule below. The marathons that are in bold simply indicate races that I’m particularly keen on doing for one reason or another (could be because of location, or race reputation, or just something stuck in my head probably because I saw some commercial somewhere).
It turns out I can cram all my needed marathons into 8 years, assuming I run 5 marathons each year for 8 years in a row, which is a huge, GIANT assumption, especially with my tendency towards injury.
On paper, my biggest hurdle was that I had 18 marathon picks that fell in October. I had to sacrifice a couple of my top picks (e.g. Twin Cities in Minnesota, Kansas City in Missouri) for races that fell outside of that crazy month (Minneapolis in June, Go! St. Louis in April). The other surprisingly popular month for marathons is January, although not enough to cause scheduling problems. There’s definitely a lack of good races in July/August, which is both good (gives me a break to recover) and bad (gives me a break to get out of marathon shape). Two of the years I scheduled both early-October and late-October marathons, but generally the races are relatively spread out.
Looking at this schedule is admittedly a bit overwhelming. Eight years is a long time to do anything, and looking at all those marathons makes my joints scream in protest. But before I go too far down this Hypothetical Path of Woe, I must remind myself to take each race one-at-a-time (good but difficult-to-take advice, especially since I’m such a planner), and that the ultimate goal of any of this is to enjoy the marathons and the travel, not to simply knock off states. I don’t get a special prize for finishing all 50 States (or wait, actually I do, but it’s just a block of lucite, not a million dollars or a cure for cancer or the answer to life, the universe, and everything).
Will the next 8 years actually look like what I’ve mapped out above? Almost certainly not. Life, injuries, new marathons (like Beat the Blerch!), cancelled marathons, scheduling conflicts, and the unknown will all get in the way. Maybe I’ll hit a stride next year and suddenly be able to knock out a marathon every couple weeks, or maybe I’ll want to take a year or two off from my marathon quest. Regardless, I’ve penciled in my picks for the next 8 years, and I hope to run many of them with you in the future.
Have you ever planned something 8 years or more into the future? Do you feel a bit of an existential crisis when you think about where you’ll be in 2021? Do you notice any races that I missed or should skip? Share in the comments!