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Hastings man accomplishes goal of running marathon in all 50 states

A Hastings man has completed a goal that was nearly 20 years in the making.

When Steve Wolford crossed the finish line at the Tunnel Hill Marathon on Nov. 13 at Vienna, Illinois, it marked the 50th state in which he had run 26.2 miles. He was joined on the trip by family members.

His group of Hastings-area running buddies — Bill McKay, Mike Clawson, Courtney Drake, Mike Florek and Dave Rippe — also surprised him at a restaurant the night before his marathon run.

“The whole weekend was a big surprise,” Wolford said. “Walking in and seeing those guys at the restaurant was quite a nice surprise.”

McKay has run with Wolford since Wolford started the quest for 50 states in 2004 in San Francisco. They’ve run a few marathons together, as has Wolford with Florek and Clawson.

Among Wolford’s family members celebrating his accomplishment was his son, Neil, who also has run a few marathons with him.

It was also a goal for Wolford to run in all 50 states before he turned 65. He ran the Illinois marathon a few weeks before turning 64.

Wolford had run a couple of marathons in Nebraska prior to 2004. But after running that marathon in San Francisco, he determined that he wanted to run in every state.

“It was a way to have a longer-term goal and keep motivated,” he said.

He and his wife, Danna, both enjoy exploring the United States.

“Danna had to buy into it right from the beginning, as well, because obviously traveling to 50 states was going to be a fairly expensive venture and it was going to take a long time,” Wolford said.

Whenever possible he tries to find races near the coasts, so he and Danna can visit along the ocean or a gulf.

Running a marathon in all 50 states, particularly in just 18 years, has required some flexibility and convenience.

“A lot of times we would pick them based on our availability or some other combination of where we were going for some other reason,” he said.

For instance, before the Tunnel Hill Marathon, which was on a Sunday, Wolford and Danna attended a wedding in Des Moines.

Other marathons have coincided with work trips, historical tours and visiting friends or family members.

He had run another marathon three weeks earlier in New Jersey.

“I wanted to get done as soon as I could,” he said.

Wolford said he got into a good marathon for his 50th state. The Tunnel Hill Marathon is an ultra marathon, so he was sharing the course with people running 100 miles.

“The weather was good and it was a cool place to visit because that southern tip of Illinois was a really cool place to go visit,” he said.

There are a lot of trails and state parks there, making it a unique part of the country.

“Which is what we ran into in a lot of places,” he said. “The really cool thing about it is a lot of them were places we never would have gone to without having that marathon there. Now we have a whole bunch of places we’d like to go back and see again.”

When it comes to marathons in other states, Wolford has good memories as well as bad memories, sometimes during the same trip.

“There are some that were extremely challenging,” he said.

During the marathon in Hawaii, the heat “about killed me,” he said. There was also serious elevation gain.

“But the rest of the trip was wonderful,” he said.

For the Alaska trip, Wolford visited a niece at an Army base in Anchorage.

He ran his New York marathon at the end of Long Island with the same niece while she was attending West Point.

Wolford ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.

“It was good to go run Boston,” he said. “It was a big race, and I don’t care for big races as much as I do the smaller, more local venues.”

He has run about 55 total marathons.

In addition to running the Lincoln Marathon twice, Wolford has run the Y to Y Marathon Florek organizes — an informal event that starts at the Grand Island YMCA and finishes at the Hastings Family YMCA — three or four times.

Now that Wolford has completed his goal of running a marathon in all 50 states, he is looking for a new challenge.

“I’m going to have to come up with a new goal and new motivation to keep going. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I just don’t have it set yet.”

He also is continuing a streak of running at least one mile a day.

That streak started in June 2019.

On Nov. 14, the day after his marathon, Wolford ran in the morning before driving back to Hastings.

“I was pretty slow yesterday,” he said Nov. 15.

Running still is fun for him.

“There are times it’s still difficult for me, but there are times it’s fairly easy,” he said. “I certainly enjoy the times I can run with other runners for the camaraderie.”


Hastings man accomplishes goal of running marathon in all 50 states

A Hastings man has completed a goal that was nearly 20 years in the making.

When Steve Wolford crossed the finish line at the Tunnel Hill Marathon on Nov. 13 at Vienna, Illinois, it marked the 50th state in which he had run 26.2 miles. He was joined on the trip by family members.

His group of Hastings-area running buddies — Bill McKay, Mike Clawson, Courtney Drake, Mike Florek and Dave Rippe — also surprised him at a restaurant the night before his marathon run.

“The whole weekend was a big surprise,” Wolford said. “Walking in and seeing those guys at the restaurant was quite a nice surprise.”

McKay has run with Wolford since Wolford started the quest for 50 states in 2004 in San Francisco. They’ve run a few marathons together, as has Wolford with Florek and Clawson.

Among Wolford’s family members celebrating his accomplishment was his son, Neil, who also has run a few marathons with him.

It was also a goal for Wolford to run in all 50 states before he turned 65. He ran the Illinois marathon a few weeks before turning 64.

Wolford had run a couple of marathons in Nebraska prior to 2004. But after running that marathon in San Francisco, he determined that he wanted to run in every state.

“It was a way to have a longer-term goal and keep motivated,” he said.

He and his wife, Danna, both enjoy exploring the United States.

“Danna had to buy into it right from the beginning, as well, because obviously traveling to 50 states was going to be a fairly expensive venture and it was going to take a long time,” Wolford said.

Whenever possible he tries to find races near the coasts, so he and Danna can visit along the ocean or a gulf.

Running a marathon in all 50 states, particularly in just 18 years, has required some flexibility and convenience.

“A lot of times we would pick them based on our availability or some other combination of where we were going for some other reason,” he said.

For instance, before the Tunnel Hill Marathon, which was on a Sunday, Wolford and Danna attended a wedding in Des Moines.

Other marathons have coincided with work trips, historical tours and visiting friends or family members.

He had run another marathon three weeks earlier in New Jersey.

“I wanted to get done as soon as I could,” he said.

Wolford said he got into a good marathon for his 50th state. The Tunnel Hill Marathon is an ultra marathon, so he was sharing the course with people running 100 miles.

“The weather was good and it was a cool place to visit because that southern tip of Illinois was a really cool place to go visit,” he said.

There are a lot of trails and state parks there, making it a unique part of the country.

“Which is what we ran into in a lot of places,” he said. “The really cool thing about it is a lot of them were places we never would have gone to without having that marathon there. Now we have a whole bunch of places we’d like to go back and see again.”

When it comes to marathons in other states, Wolford has good memories as well as bad memories, sometimes during the same trip.

“There are some that were extremely challenging,” he said.

During the marathon in Hawaii, the heat “about killed me,” he said. There was also serious elevation gain.

“But the rest of the trip was wonderful,” he said.

For the Alaska trip, Wolford visited a niece at an Army base in Anchorage.

He ran his New York marathon at the end of Long Island with the same niece while she was attending West Point.

Wolford ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.

“It was good to go run Boston,” he said. “It was a big race, and I don’t care for big races as much as I do the smaller, more local venues.”

He has run about 55 total marathons.

In addition to running the Lincoln Marathon twice, Wolford has run the Y to Y Marathon Florek organizes — an informal event that starts at the Grand Island YMCA and finishes at the Hastings Family YMCA — three or four times.

Now that Wolford has completed his goal of running a marathon in all 50 states, he is looking for a new challenge.

“I’m going to have to come up with a new goal and new motivation to keep going. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I just don’t have it set yet.”

He also is continuing a streak of running at least one mile a day.

That streak started in June 2019.

On Nov. 14, the day after his marathon, Wolford ran in the morning before driving back to Hastings.

“I was pretty slow yesterday,” he said Nov. 15.

Running still is fun for him.

“There are times it’s still difficult for me, but there are times it’s fairly easy,” he said. “I certainly enjoy the times I can run with other runners for the camaraderie.”


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