Tag Archives: 50 States

Clickable Map of the States & Updated Schedule

I’m still suffering from my recent injury (posterior tibialis tendonitis, maybe?), so I’ve been not running, which is the only thing worse than actually running.  When I feel like I’m not making progress on my running goals, I tend to make travel plans and lists and records of when I was making progress.  This time, I made a map and updated my 50 States Schedule!


I’ve been messing around with clickable maps since I created this blog two years ago, but I finally ponied up the 10 bucks to create one that can be saved and edited in the future.  You can make your own free clickable map at various sites online (like here and here) or you can pay about $10 to save it for future editing.  Just think, you could make maps to reflect which states you’ve run a race in, eaten candy in, or where you owe people money.  The possibilities are endless!

50 States Marathon Quest

Green = completed, pink = scheduled but not yet run, blue = not scheduled yet!


I’d really like to knock off that cluster of New England states, but a lot of them only have fall races that I’m interested in.  I’m looking forward to all the western and midwestern states since they are large topographically and it’ll feel like I’m making a lot of progress when I knock off one of those (compared to, say, Delaware).


I’ve also condensed my original 8-year plan to run the 50 States into a (possibly absurd) 4.3 year plan (but really I only shaved off 2 years).  Check it out below.  I included my entire marathon history to help you plan your own 50 States.  As you can see, I didn’t run many marathons the first 9 years that I started running, so I condensed those years into a single column.  The more I look at this schedule, the more I think it’s not do-able, since I’ve always had to drop out of marathons due to injury (and here I am again, injured, while I have 3 marathons in the next 3 months scheduled).  But I guess the upside with this schedule-tweaking is even if I know I won’t be able to make it in 2019, I’ll have two years to knock off any straggling states and still hit my original goal of finishing in 2021.

Schedule to Run 50 States updated Nov 2015

You can also see I’m considering doing a Rock n’ Roll-heavy 2017, even though I’ve only heard bad things about their races (I’ve never actually run one – I signed up for Las Vegas a couple years ago but couldn’t do it due to travel).  Competitor Group (the company behind the RnR race series) offers a “tour pass where you can run any 3 races for $219 (equaling $73 race) or unlimited races for $479 (which, if I did 6 races that year, would amount to $80 per race), plus you get special medals for each additional race you run that calendar year.  Since normal prices are around $90 to $110 for their marathons, it’s not a huge savings, but like buffets or data plans, unlimited always sounds better.  I’ve included several alternatives to the RnR races that year, for your benefit and in case I wise up and realize doing an RnR-heavy year is a bad idea.  I’ve also included various other race alternatives that I might need as my schedule changes, injuries don’t heal, or flights get canceled.  As much as I like planning, gotta plan in some flexibility, too!


What do you do when you’re injured, besides not running?  Do you enjoy making schedules?  Which is your favorite state to visit?  Share in the comments!

The Best Marathon in Every State

My marathon schedule as laid out last April is already off (missed Missoula, only did half of Blerch, and 2015 is all over the place).  But the schedule was not so much about hitting those exact races in those exact years but rather seeing how long it could (would?) take to run the 50 States, and to create a list of the top races to do.  The whole goal is to enjoy this quest, so I want to make sure to pick the right races.  How can I know if I’m picking the best race?  Random internet lists to the rescue!


The venerable website VacationHomeRentals.com (“by Trip Advisor”) recently posted a list of the Best Marathon in Every State in the USA.  I agree with the sparse comments more than I do with the list – not that I’ve run that many of the listed races, but the fact that they included my least favorite marathon to date (Marshall Marathon in West Virginia) leads me to suspect they just randomly threw this list together.  Shocking, I know, considering what a leading runners’ resource VacationHomeRentals.com is.  Is my sarcasm coming through?  This thing on?  <thump thump feeeeedback!>


Since that wasn’t a reliable list, I decided to suss out (aka Google) other lists of the “Best Marathon in Each State.”  There aren’t all that many.  Interestingly enough, FlipKey.com (also “by Trip Advisor”) posted an unannotated list of the 50 “top marathons & races” in each state here (dated April 9, 2014).  Not all are full marathons, but it looks like most are.


The 50 States Marathon Club also has a “favorites” list from suggestions from members, but it’s unclear how many members have actually given input or how often they update it, plus it often includes more than one marathon per state.  I only found one comprehensive 50 Marathons in the 50 States list from a site that actually has to do with running – Active.com’s Top 50 Marathons to do Across America – which also includes a short description on each race.  There’s no date and no comments, so I have no idea when they put this list together.  I also hate that it’s spread across 7 pages so you have to click-through everything, making it difficult to compare this list with the others – so, I did it for you!

Best marathon in each state page 1 of 3Best marathon in each state page 2 of 3Best marathon in each state page 3 of 3In alphabetical order by state, here are the 50 “best” marathons in each state from VacationHomeRentals, FlipKey, the 50 States Marathon Club, and Active.com.  Click the images above to expand, or click here for a 3-page PDF of the compiled lists.  I also included my tentative “to do” list but did not highlight when my selections overlapped with another’s.  Someday I hope to be able to create a compact review of a race in each state myself!


I highlighted those races that appeared in more than one list (and bolded the races in my list I’ve completed).  It’s interesting to note that no race was included in all four lists, but several races were included in three (Little Rock, AR; Hartford, CT; Mesa Falls, ID; Boston, MA; Steamtown, PA; Myrtle Beach, SC; & Richmond, VA).  Are those 7 races the best of the best, or do those states just not have a lot of great options?  There were 10 states that didn’t have any overlap on the four lists (Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, & Washington).  Not surprising for those states that are full of natural beauty and/or a lot of runners (e.g. Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Washington, etc.), but I was surprised there were that many “best” races in Maryland and Missouri.


For the sake of thoroughness, although I did not include these lists in my compilation:  here’s Men’s Health’s 2012 article 11 Races to Run Before You Die, clearly written by someone who was asked to name every race that he could name off the top of his head, with a couple of randoms thrown in (if you hate the slideshow format like me, here’s a spoiler:  Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, Honolulu Marathon, Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Mt Desert Island Marathon, Indy Mini Half Marathon, London Marathon, Bay-to-Breakers, Miami Half Marathon, & Covered Bridges Half Marathon).  But it’s no worse than the TopEventsUSA.com’s list (updated Feb 2014) of the “Top 20 Marathons or Marathon Events in the USA,” presented in such a maddening non-list I can’t bother to re-create it here.  There’s also this crowdsourced list of marathons by month, but the links simply send you to comments made on MarathonGuide.com.  Finally, here’s Marathon and Beyond’s 1998 list of the top 26 Marathons in North America.  Surprisingly I think most are still being run!


As always, I think the best resource for information on marathons in the US is MarathonGuide.com – bless all those people who write detailed reviews – but now you have a color-coded compiled 50 “best” list, which is better than actually training for anything, right?

Hazelnut chocolate wafer candy bar

And for a bonus candy review – the candy pictured above was one of the new candies I got in Houston.  It’s super delicious, like a delicate Kit Kat with chopped hazelnuts on top.  The wafer is airy, the chocolate and hazelnut flavors are good, and the chopped nuts go perfectly with the wafers and chocolate.  I could easily eat 50 of these things in every US State.  Too bad I have no idea what this candy is called, even though I’m looking directly at the wrapper.  (Ion Chocofreta?  It’s all Greek to me!)


Do you have a list of the top 50 marathons by state, or a list of races you’d like to do?  Do you have a list of the 50 best candy bars?  Which list would you rather research and compile?  Share in the comments!

8 Years of marathons for the 50 states

A Schedule to Run the 50 States

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).


8 Years of marathons for the 50 states


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 Continue reading

Cancelled flight means no marathon


Cancelled flight means no marathon

The winter from hell has cancelled my entire weekend.

I knew this weekend would result in a story – I just didn’t know it would be so soon, nor so brief.  My flight this morning was cancelled, and United couldn’t re-book me on a flight that got in on time to make the expo to pick up my bib, so after some scrambling trying to figure out another way to get to Little Rock in time and realizing there was no way, I had to pull the plug on the whole weekend before it even started.


So now it’s 4:30 am, and I’m supposed to be on my way to LGA, but instead I’m staring at my packed luggage in frustration and relief – but mostly frustration.  Since I had decided to attempt the marathon I was in it whole hog, and was excited to see what 26 miles of wet suffering would teach me about marathoning and this crazy 50 States quest I’m on.  I could taste that 2.5 pound medal and all the guilt-free chocolate and Pop Tarts that would follow.  Instead I’m up in the relative middle of the night, sitting on my couch, writing a post about how the winter from hell cancelled my chance at misery and glory in Little Rock.  Does this mean I have to start training for my next marathon (Flying Pig on May 4th) now?  Yes, yes it does.  But just not right this second.


What are you doing this weekend?  Wanna hang out and complain about the weather?  Share in the comments!

Little Rock Marathon weather prediction 2014

Little Rock Forecast Doesn’t Look Good

Little Rock Marathon weather prediction 2014

Temps in the 20s to 50s with an 80% chance of rain and thunder? I don’t like those odds…

Lest you think the winter weather gods aren’t out to get us all, they’re expected to bring rain and thunder to Little Rock for Sunday’s marathon.  I’ve been closely watching the forecast since Monday, repeatedly refreshing my weather.com page in hopes it will suddenly change to “partly cloudy with no chance of terrifying thunder and icy rain,” but to no avail.


If I don’t cancel the hotel reservation within 48 hours of my stay, I’ll incur a fee, so basically I have to decide tonight if I’m willing to risk walking 26.2 miles (potentially unsuccessfully) in the rain to knock off Arkansas and claim my 2.5 pound medal.  If I were healthy and trained, it would be a no-brainer.  I survived 26 miles of rain in Vermont last year (although it was in late May instead of yucky February), but there was no thunder and not (too) much walking.


Putting the physical strain and time considerations aside, I’ve been mostly considering the financial loss involved.  If I don’t go, I’ll have wasted the entry fee ($90 plus $25 for VIP pavilion) and airfare ($340).  If I go and don’t finish the marathon, I’ll have wasted that plus taxi fare (times four – to and from both airports, estimated at $150 total), hotel fees ($430 – yes, I’m staying at a fancy hotel), meals (estimated $125 total), and the inevitable thing or things I buy at the expo or airport (anywhere from $10 to $200 if I’m insane).  Oh, but I will get that free t-shirt for flying out there and picking it up.


But, after many days of deliberation, I’ve decided to go ahead and go to Little Rock this weekend.  Will I finish the marathon?  Maybe, maybe not.  But at the very least I’ll come back with a story to tell, even if that story is I pulled the plug after 4 miles and ate chocolates in a fancy hotel room.


Would you go to Little Rock under these conditions?  Do you know anyone who could do a reasonable impersonation of me on race day?  What candy bar goes best with wet misery?  Share in the comments!

USA Map with so many questions

How I Choose Marathons

USA Map with so many questions

So many states, even more marathons…

There are a lot of marathons out there.  Even with a goal of doing 50 marathons in 50 states, there are still a lot of choices to be made, and since my body can’t afford to repeat states (not to mention the time and money it takes to travel), I want to “spend” my marathons wisely.  So how do I choose which marathons to run?


My first stop is MarathonGuide.com – it’s an excellent website that lists just about every marathon everywhere.  You can view marathons by date or by state, and most races have a lot of helpful reviews by people who have actually run the race.  I like to skim a page or two of the reviews to get a sense of the race to see if it’s something I want to do.  Basically, I’m looking for how well-organized the race is (which is becoming more and more important as I do more races – a sloppy or confusing expo or course with poor support can add mountains of misery to the race experience), how difficult the course is (hilly, trail, elevation, open to traffic, typical weather), the value extras (which includes the medal and any other stuff like the shirt/jacket/post-race food/beer), and overall experience for the runners (which includes everything from special entertainment along the course, the spectators, the location/scenery, to general atmosphere).


If a marathon sounds promising from the reviews, I then visit the marathon’s webpage to learn more about the location, difficulty of travelling there, hotel options, etc.  And if everything sounds good, I add it to my list of potential races (or I start making reservations!).  I started with a Word doc but now I have an Excel sheet uploaded into Google docs to keep all my race notes organized.  I have the races listed by state and by month so I can see when and where I should start scheduling a race.  I have columns for name of the race, town, state, date of race, when you should register, cost of registration, website, and general notes.  (I also added columns for hotel, airline/transportation, and car rental, but that’s mostly so I can share my info with you guys to help you plan your next marathon.)


Some races fall into a special category because they are so well-known (e.g. Chicago, New York, Boston) or have some personal interest for me (e.g. Big Sur, Flying Pig) that they’ve been on my wish list for years.  I’ve already “spent” California and will probably never qualify for Boston, so I might not run my wish list, but I have multiple marathons listed for most states, which is also necessary for scheduling.  For example, I have only 2 or 3 solid potential marathons for the month of July but 12 to 17 marathons for October, so I probably won’t run all of the October races on my Excel sheet.


Finally, I try to gather reviews and recommendations from other runners I meet.  Sometimes I’ll learn about a marathon that wasn’t on my radar at all, and yet sounds so interesting it’s suddenly top on my list.  I also look at all the race ads and reviews in Runner’s World, which have sparked many a dream marathon in my mind.  I’ve also taken note of the various marathon booths at expos, and now that I’m able to join the 50 States Marathon Club, I’ll probably get even more info about which races I should be doing next.


It’s an ever-evolving process, and I’m trying to hit my “special” races and finish the Eastern seaboard first.  I’m putting off tough trail marathons and high elevation races until I improve as a runner, and I’m saving Alaska and Hawaii for my 49th and 50th states.  Sometimes my race choices make practical sense (Baltimore is an easy train ride away and knocks off Maryland), and sometimes they are a bit more random (Little Rock has a really big medal).  Regardless, choosing marathons is a fun process (often more fun than actually running them), so I encourage you to start a marathon wish list of your own, if you haven’t already.


What’s on your marathon wish list?  Share in the comments!

Where's the Finish Panda

Runner Kino makes me think 50 States is do-able!

I had the privilege of meeting runner Hideki Kinoshita last night and for the first time I feel like running a marathon in all 50 states might actually be possible for me.  Hideki (or “Kino” as he’s known in the running community) is a sub-3:30 marathoner who is running his 150th marathon this weekend.  He has not only completed the 50 States and DC, he’s completed them sub-4 (that is, all 50 states with a time under 4 hours in each of them).  He’s also raised almost $70,000 for charity while doing all this – and all the money he raises for charity goes directly to the charities, none of it supports his running or travel expenses.  All this, plus he’s super friendly and was willing to spend his night discussing which marathons I should do, providing general running and training tips, and generally letting me geek out about running.  Even though he’s so accomplished, he didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or too slow to be worthy.  Instead, he made me feel like I, too, could run the 50 states, that it was mostly about scheduling and simply running the races, and he made me believe that I would get to a point where I could run a marathon each month, which sounds like heaven to me (he has stretches where he runs a marathon each week).


We spent much of our dinner going over my potential marathon list state-by-state, with Kino telling me what he thought of the ones I had listed and giving me suggestions (or warnings against) other ones in each and every state.  I’ll post that updated marathon list when I finish updating it – it’s a big job as I’m adding more info to make it more helpful for you, the reader (and me, the runner!).


Also, I’ve been thinking about joining a running club or at least trying out some of the free group runs that different stores offer, and Kino agreed that joining a running club or running with friends can really help (with accountability, not skiping workouts, increasing speed, developing community).  I feel so slow right now (10:00 min miles being my “fast” pace right now, 10:30 my standard pace, 11:00+ my marathon pace), but he assured me most groups had runners at all speeds.  I’m putting “do a group run” on my to-do list post-MDI.


Overall, meeting Kino was a true delight, especially after this past weekend/week, as I came down with a sudden cold and was in bed for most of Sunday.  I’m feeling better now, but also have that slow, bloated, out-of-shape feeling that many tapers produce, but it’s heightened because of the extra fatigue my cold and lack of any exercise has wrought.  The four cups of pasta I just ate probably doesn’t help, but I’m nothing if not a good carbo loader.


I pack up tomorrow and leave early Friday morning for Maine!  I hope my phone works out there so I can give you an update from the road.  If it doesn’t, I won’t be posting until late Wednesday, since I’m staying in Bar Harbor so I can do some whale watching and kayaking and such.  (“Such” being “eat Maine blueberry ice cream and stroll down the beach.”)  The forecast has shifted to no rain (yay!) and I’m predicting a finishing time of just shy of 6 hours, but who knows.  Cross your fingers my knees hold out, my cold completely disappears, and other good running things.  MDI, ho!