Marathon Man

Tim Gundeck has competed in marathons in all 50 states.

On Sunday, in Missoula, Mont., I completed my goal of running a full marathon in all 50 states. It was the culmination of a goal I have been working on for 18 years.

My journey began in 1995, when I took up running to lose weight. With a young kid and a wife in school, I didn’t have time to exercise in the gym at night. Running seemed like the perfect way to lose weight, because all I needed was a pair of running shoes, and I could run anywhere, at any time.

I started out running a mile a day, and then as I got in better shape and felt more confident, I gradually increased my daily mileage. Eventually I decided to run some races, starting out first with 5K/10K races and working myself up to a marathon. I decided to do the Disneyworld Marathon as my first full event.

I had no issues with the 16-week training program and ran the Disneyworld Marathon in four hours and 10 minutes in January 2000.  It was an awesome experience, running from park to park and seeing and hearing the crowds cheering us all on during the race.

Then in 2002, a friend talked me into running the Twin Cities Marathon with him. Running through the Twin Cities was incredible, and the crowds were even bigger than at Disneyworld.

It was there I really caught the marathon bug — and was hooked.

So I ran the Chicago marathon the next year and Macon, Ga., marathon shortly after. When in Macon, I learned of the 50 States Marathon Club. As you might conclude, this was a club comprising runners whose goal is to run a marathon in every state.

During the next couple of years, I started doing three to four marathons a year and eventually completed state number 10, South Dakota. After completing marathons in 10 states, I was eligible to become a member of the 50 States Marathon Club.

My next goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I increased my mileage to 50 to 60 miles a week and worked at increasing my speed. My happiest day ever happened in Boise, Idaho, in October 2007, where I ran a three-hour, 28-minute marathon  — and qualified for Boston.

By 2008, I was running six to eight marathons a year. I was enjoying traveling around the country, meeting all kinds of great people and running through some great American cities. In 2009, I ran the marathons in both Boston and New York City. Others were in Tucson, Ariz.; Little Rock, Ark.; Fargo, N.D.; Denver, Baltimore and Anchorage, Alaska.

By now I was running so many marathons that I qualified to join the Marathon Maniac club. This is a group of marathon runners who qualify by running multiple marathons in a short time. I was able to qualify joining the “maniacs” by running two marathons a week apart.

In May of this year, I completed state 49 in Maine. That leaves July 14, and I will then complete my goal.

Running has given me such an opportunity to see every state in this great country of ours, at seven miles an hour with a pair of running shoes. I’m happy I got off the couch 18 years ago and took the first step of this journey.

Editor's note: Here’s a list of all the marathons Tim has completed.

by Tim Gundeck on Tue, Jul 16 2013 2:16 pm
Posted by Tim Gundeck on Tue, Jul 16 2013 2:16 pmTim Gundeck is an application development engineering specialist with American Family Insuranc.e


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