Goal: 50 ultra marathons in 50 states by age 50

8:33 AM, Jul 22, 2013   |    comments
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Jeff Woody training for another ultra marathon.

Completing a marathon can be a runner's ultimate goal.

One East Tennessee runner pushes his body and mind way beyond that. He's an ultra marathoner.

"I average probably two to three hours of running a day although weekends I have some long runs that can be five or six hours," Jeff Woody said.

He's an endurance runner who ran his first ultra marathon in 2007.

Most of the races are anywhere from 31 miles to 100 miles in different conditions.

"I've done some ultra marathons that were through wild mountainous territory, some that were on paved roads, I did one in New Jersey that was a one mile loop around the fairgrounds, it was 150 miles, so it's a little bit of everything," he said.

Jeff Woody has finished eleven 100 mile races.

"The human body is capable of quite a bit of physical extreme and you're only limited by your mind," he said.

What can be a 30 hour race involves a lot of short stops along the way at aid stations.

"A lot of people refer to these ultra marathons as an eating contest because you're constantly eating. You have to take in 200 to 300 calories and hour or you just can't do it," he said.

On a run a few years ago he had a thought..."Hmmm, I wonder if I could run 50 ultra marathons in 50 states before I turn 50, and that's coming up this December in 2013."

Since then he's run ultra marathons across the country. He's crossed the vast plains of North Dakota and the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

He just checked off his 44th state, Montana, and has six to go.

"I have Colorado and Alaska and then everything else is in the northeast in New England," he said.

It's been a long path covering thousands of miles. As Jeff heads toward the end of his journey, he's decided he wants to somehow use his adventure to help others."I'm spending so much time out there anyway it might at well benefit some worthy cause," he said.

Picking the cause was easy. In 1986, his wife Diana gave birth to a daughter with a serious medical condition. Baby Sarah went to Children's Hospital's NICU for three weeks.

"She was give a 50/50 chance of actually making it and they saved her life. So that cause is very near and dear to our family," he said.

Sarah is now 26, married, and a marathoner.

Jeff's website links people to a donor page for Children's Hospital.

He calls his site, Americana Series."I named this challenge the Americana because I'm going through all these small towns all over the country and I'm seeing a lot of things I've never seen before and I'm meeting a lot of great people," he said.

His Americana challenge should wrap up in late October in New Hampshire.

That means he will have run 50 ultra marathons in 50 states and still have a couple omonths before his 50th birthday.

Jeff just got back from Montana where he finished a 50 mile race through the mountains. He will run a 100 mile race in Colorado next month.

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