Marathons in 23 States...and Counting

Some people try in a lifetime to collect a postcard from each of the 50 United States. Others, like my crazy friend, Maureen, risk life and limb to collect photos of themselves crossing each state's state line. But the Trail Running Club's Rachelle Nesgoda and a group of dedicated runners has a goal that makes those shrink in comparison: she's setting out to run a marathon in each of the fifty states.
 
Rachelle is part of the Fifty States Club, a loosely organized club of runners from all over the world, with only one criteria to join – you have to have run marathons in 10 states to sign up. Rachelle first became interested in the Fifty States Club when she met some of the directors at a race in South Dakota in 2003. At the time, Rachelle had run three marathons, and was an active member of both the Trail Runners Club and the L.A. Leggers marathon training group, but it had never occurred to her to set marathons in 50 states as a goal. She met some fellow Leggers who were interested, too, and they started crossing state lines to run races together.
 
Since first learning about the Club in 2003, Rachelle has amassed a record of an impressive 23 states! Yes, 23. That's Idaho, Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Texas. In the past four years, she has run about four marathons a year.
 
Rachelle tries to take some days before and/or after the marathon in each place and likes to do something to see the area. When she ran the marathon in New Hampshire, she flew into Boston and saw the Red Sox at Fenway Park (who happened to be playing the Minnesota Twins, Rachelle's home team). In Texas, she visited the Alamo in Austin, and in South Dakota saw the Crazy Horse and Wounded Knee sites and Mt. Rushmore. She said her most memorable marathons were in West Virginia and Louisiana, with starkly contrasting memories. In West Virginia, the Hatfield McCoy marathon was “so pretty she didn't want it to end.” And in Louisiana, Rachelle ran a poignant post-Hurricane Katrina marathon in a New Orleans that, in some parts, resembled a ghost town.
 
While her 23 marathons have all been memorable, I asked Rachelle which one she would do over if she could choose only one. The answer was easy for her: Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota, where Rachelle is from and where her whole family came to cheer her on along the route.
 
You may be wondering how Rachelle memorializes her races. You would just have to look on her refrigerator, where she has a collection of magnets from each state and her own race reports of each race which she sends from afar to her Santa Monica address on -- you guessed it -- a postcard. Congratulations on your achievement so far, Rachelle, and keep us posted on your next 27 marathons!