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Gillette runner works toward his dream: 50 marathons in 50 states

Gillette runner works toward his dream: 50 marathons in 50 states

Jun 30, 2012 - By Rod Harwood, The Associated Press

GILLETTE -- Not even in the day did Razor City Runner's Club president Roger Peabody speed down the road like a bullet train.

He's more like Mr. Peabody's coal train chugging down the line. He's in it for the long haul.

It's hard to call him a late bloomer because the Gillette resident didn't pick up running until he was 50 years old. The former Marine did a tour in Vietnam and ran a little bit in the service because he had to.

He took up running in 2002 to get his cholesterol numbers down.

But what started as something to better his health has turned into a passion, and that passion has taken him all over the continental United States and Alaska.

His goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states. Like the miles, he's picking them off one at a time. He has run 25 marathons so far.

Peabody has run a 26.2-mile race in Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Tennessee and Washington state on this side of the Mississippi River. He's also run back east and through the Midwest.

The journey has taken him through scenic byways along the seashore and the Great Lakes, through the mountains and in the wilderness.

Peabody ran the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, during the summer solstice. He has started one race in San Francisco and weaved his way through the Napa Valley vineyards. He's run the Grandma's Marathon in Minneapolis and the Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon.

His best time is 4 hours, 13 minutes and 43 seconds.

But it's not about time for Peabody. It's about the long haul and the discipline it takes to get there.

"I got the idea about the second marathon I ran. I thought if you're going to do these and it's a reason to train, then let's do one in every state," he tells the Gillette News Record (http://bit.ly/MXJdHq). "I like the smaller marathons. I ran one in Idaho where there were only 200 to 300 people. Some of them, you get to a point where you're just out there running all by yourself.

"The most difficult one I ever ran was the God's Country Marathon in Pennsylvania. You started climbing about mile two and finished climbing about mile 19. Man that was tough."

It all started with the Spirit of St. Louis Marathon in 2002.

"I remember thinking, this is crazy," he said. "I think my time for that one was 4:28.51."

For a while, he was completing three or four marathons a year. He's ran the ones in close proximity or ones he could tie into a family visit. With the next 25, he will have to take into consideration travel expenses and coordinate it with vacation time.

"I haven't run one in the past year and a half. I had to consider the economic factors and for a while there, I just couldn't afford it," said the application developer for Peabody Energy Corporation in Gillette. "I like to get there a day in advance and I've gotten to the point where I want to stay a few days afterward to look around.

"When I get ready to run one in Hawaii, it doesn't make any sense to go over two or three days for the race. I'll want to take a vacation and spend some time on the islands."

There is no specific time schedule for the marathon man, he just keeps training for when the time comes.

"I haven't really sat down and mapped out a schedule. I have some Back East I need to get to and some others," he said. "I've caught the local races, but I think I'd like to get back to running a marathon again.

He's also 60 now, so he's had to adapt his training methodology along the way. He takes information from the "Runner's World" magazine, conforms it to his style and ability, and knows he is running for himself.

"I know as I am aging, I have to cut back on the miles. You still have to get your long runs in, but I used to run five and six days a week," Peabody said. "Now I train five days, but I make sure I have two full days to rest."

Peabody also runs in shorter and longer races. He ran in the 10-kilometer Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day.

He's coming off the 50-mile Bighorn Mountain Wild & Scenic Trail Run, which began at the far end of the Medicine Wheel Ranger Station and descends through the Little Bighorn Canyon to Leaky Mountain Creek and finished in Dayton.

That race started with 229 runners at 8,900 feet in elevation and just 139 finished, including Peabody.

"That one you really better have done the training," said Peabody. He completed the course in 14 hours, 21 minutes. "I was used to being out there four or five hours, not 14. For that race, I would go on eight-hour training runs to prepare.

"On a trail run like that, you were running through mud holes on a single-track trail or horse trail. There was some snow melt, so you had to pay attention because sometimes your brain gets ahead of what your body can do."

He doesn't consider himself a weekend warrior. He's just another runner in a runner's town.

"Everyone has a different reason for doing it, a different reason why they enjoy it," he said. "Some people like it because they run fast. Me? I'm not the fastest or the slowest, either. I like a challenge and it gives me a chance to see what I can do.

"The reason I keep doing marathons is to have a reason to run. It gives me a reason to get out there every day."

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