When past RRCA board members Mark Grandonico (2008-2016) and Kelly “K2 Richards (2009 -2017) say they’ve run the nation, they mean it. Each has run a marathon or farther in every U.S. state and Washington, D.C. Nearly all of the marathons they completed hold the distinction of also being RRCA member events.
Newly elected RRCA board member, Lisa Rippe, has also already run over 110 marathons including a marathon in every U.S. state, D.C and on all seven continents! Not to be outdone by his predecessors, current RRCA board member, George Rehmet, is working his way through the states, having completed 35 so far.
K2 finished running all 50 states and Washington, D.C. at the 2016 IMT Des Moines Marathon
, directed by RRCA Iowa State Representative Chris Burch. Mark took a more traditional approach to his 50th marathon state by finishing in Hawaii in January of this year.
Mark’s first marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon
in 2000. Ten years, 30 marathons and 20 states later, he decided to run a marathon in all 50 states and D.C. K2 planned to be a one and done marathoner, she loved her first, the 1998 Twin Cities Marathon
, but hadn’t planned to do more marathons. Her second marathon, which she did to tag along with a friend wasn’t all that enjoyable. She wanted to run one more to end her marathon career on a high-note. It was during her third marathon that she fell in love with long distance racing. A year or two later she decided to run a marathon in all 50 states and D.C. as a way to do what she loved for the next 20 years.
George ran his first marathon, the San Francisco Marathon
, in 1991, but didn’t embark on the 50 Marathon States journey until 2007, the same year he turned 40. Lisa ran her first marathon in 1996. In 2004 she set out to run a marathon in all 50 states and accomplished the goal in 2011 at the Maui Oceanfront Marathon
All four of these RRCA ROADIES have been on individual journeys, but their paths crossed many times, often crossing the same finish lines, sometimes in the same year but not always. K2 drove up to Arkansas to cheer for Mark at the Hogeye Marathon
, which he did the day after doing a marathon in Missouri.
Mark and K2 ran the Light at the End of the Tunnel
(WA) in June 2016, apropos for K2’s 49th marathon state. Lisa and K2 did marathons together in several states including Nebraska and Maine after successfully bidding on Omaha Marathon
and Maine Marathon
race entries at RRCA National Convention
Silent Auctions – a fantastic way to buy race entries and support RRCA programs.
Mark, K2 and George ran the Flying Pig Marathon
(OH) in 2008 when the race was held in conjunction with the RRCA 50th Anniversary National Convention. George met up with K2 in Texas before and after his Oklahoma marathon, which was just north of the Texas border. While Mark cheered, K2, Lisa and George ran the 2014 Napa Valley Marathon
, the RRCA National Marathon Championship and George’s 100th marathon! Most of the RRCA Board was present to cheer for George at the 2016 Chicago Marathon
, which was held the day after an RRCA board meeting.
As you can imagine, running a marathon in all 50 states and D.C. takes determination and a lot planning - sometimes with some creativity. Mark ran a marathon in Wyoming on a Thursday then another one in Washington on Sunday. K2 took a detour when driving from Minnesota to Texas and stopped in Missouri to run the Heart of America Marathon
, presented by RRCA club the Columbia Track Club. In the fall of 2015, she ran three marathons in three states in nine days (New Hampshire on Saturday, Maine on Sunday and Rhode Island the following Sunday). In 2016, she ran marathons in Georgia and Tennessee on the same weekend.
George scheduled a layover in Austin, Texas to run a marathon while traveling back to California from Pittsburgh! Some races resulted in a little more R&R – both Mark and K2 (in separate years) went on weeklong cruises after running marathons in Alaska.
Many more of the races these four ran have RRCA ties. There’s simply too many to mention but several were State, Regional or National Championships. Numerous races were selected because entries were donated to and purchased at the silent auction at the Annual RRCA Convention. Mark, K2, George and Lisa volunteered and or ran the races, too. For example, K2 volunteered while Lisa ran her Texas race at the BMW Dallas Marathon
, and George presented the Championship awards after he completed the 26.2 miles-checking off another marathon state, at the 2016 Anchorage RunFest
, the RRCA Western Region Marathon Championship.
All four had the same advice for anyone with the goal of running the nation:
- Be patient and flexible;
- Plan well – keeping the big picture goal in mind, slow down on the run and take the time to enjoy the sights, sounds and uniqueness that each state has to offer;
- Visit a museum, park, or local brew pub;
- Relish the entire experience – share your joy of running with others and cherish the friendships formed along the way.
What’s next for these ROADIES?
Mark enjoyed his 50 states experience so much he’s planning to become a “Two Timer” by running all the states again!
K2 would like to complete the World Marathon Majors – Tokyo and London remain, but right now she’s focused on her long list of “want to do races that aren’t marathons” and is planning to run the 40th Utica Boilermaker 15K this July.
George has plans to run marathons in Rhode Island, Michigan, and New Hampshire in 2017.
Lisa continues to run many marathons a year – most as a pacer, but she’s still competitive and is running the BAA Boston Marathon in April, and has a goal of running all the World Marathon Majors with only London remaining to be done.
At the RRCA, we really do run the nation!