Running in 4 States in 1 Day with the #50StateChallenge

By Chris Newport, MS, RDN/LDN, EP-C, CISSN

I love traveling.

As a military brat, we lived and traveled all over the world. Now that we’re permanently living in the US, I realized I haven’t been to all 50 states. Why not use running as an excuse to see America?

Running is great. Not only can you do it just about anywhere, but the packing requirements are minimal. Toss your shoes in a bag and voila, you’re ready to rock. Plus, there are running races in every state, which means more opportunities to add bling to the medal wall. And runners know, it’s all about the bling—not on your finger, but around your neck!

This spring, Sarah Z and I headed to Bend, Oregon for the Bend half marathon. It was, hands down, the most scenic race I’ve ever done from start to finish. If you every get a chance, GO. Plus, the bling is pretty wicked (it’s a bottle opener!):

Bend half marathon and marathon medals

While we were there, I told her about my goal of running in all 50 states. There was no need to ask whether she wanted to join the adventure, since her first question was “Where to next?”

First, we needed to review the unofficial “rules” of this challenge. Does it have to be a race? How many miles do you have to do in each state?

We kept it simple: gear up and go for a run. A minimum of about 3 miles is great, but certainly not required. It can be in a running race or a triathlon. It just has to be intentional exercise. However, running on the treadmill doesn’t count. Neither does running to catch the train or across the street doesn’t count.  We found a cool website to tally the number of states we’ve run in and added them up, which automatically adds them up for you. I came up with 19 and Sarah was at 31.

Our next adventure came this past December. Sarah needed 2500 miles to upgrade to Delta Platinum status. Sounds like a good excuse to knock off a few states we’d never run in before, right? We had to find a place before the end of the year that was far enough away.

How about Maine? Nope, not far enough away. Texas? She’s already run there. South Dakota? Perfect.

Oh wait…it’d be December…in a potentially frozen tundra full of cattle. Well, we may as well grab the bull by the horns and go for it! If we flew into Sioux Falls, we’d be in the southeast corner of the state. We could easily go south to Nebraska and Iowa and east to Minnesota. That would add 4 states to my list and 3 to hers. Plus, we could visit my friends Jason and Lizzy, the exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist at Sanford Sports Science Institute there.

Once we landed, our first thought was (naturally): steak! Jason suggested Morrie’s. Holy smokes, was that a hit! Definitely check it out if you’re every in Sioux Falls, SD.

As soon as we walked in, we shared our random adventures with Tim, the manager we met at the front desk. We might have also told him about our love of wine. Faster than we could say cabernet, we were standing in his wine cellar gawking at his amazing collection of wines.

wine cellar at Morrie's steakhouse

After some delicious wine and food (and the BEST bacon I’ve ever had), we went back to our hotel to map out our running routes. Lucky for us, the high the next day was 40, with a low of 22. We’d definitely be cold, but not completely frozen. We really lucked out since the forecast for the following day was snow with a high of 28 degrees (and a wind chill of 2 degrees).

First, we headed to Soiux City, IA, where we found a park and a bridge that we could run over into South Soiux City, NE. Shockingly, we were the only nuts out there so all the park bathrooms were locked. After finding the closest Home Depot to use the potty, we were ready to run. It was windy and cold, but neat to run over the bridge into Nebraska (and back).

Next, we headed north to another park at the City of Luverne in Minnesota. The day had gotten colder and windier, and yet again, there was no one at the park. Instead, we saw cardboard holiday soldiers throughout the park and city. Each one has its own unique flare (and name) sponsored by local businesses. While it was an adorable little town, the wind was starting to eat into our bones.

State #3: Minnesota and the nutcrackers (or are we the nuts?)

We packed up and headed west to finish our adventures at the Sioux Falls park in South Dakota, where we were told that the holiday lights were a “must-see.” We’d be able to run just as the sun was setting and the lights were coming on. The park was the highlight of our one-day running adventure, with a cool little boardwalk (which was, again, shockingly empty), Queen Bee Mill and beautiful falls, topped off with Falls Park Winter Wonderland Christmas lights. We’ll have to come back…when it’s warmer out!

State #4: Sioux Falls Park in SD

After driving over 200 miles and running 10 miles in 4 states in 1 day, we were ready for some good food (did I mention we brought peanut butter from the hotel in the car and forgot the spoons?). Naturally, we headed back to Morrie’s, where we got treated to some post-running oysters and wagyu beef (we even saw the certificate of authenticity!). That wagyu beef was insane. Now I know why people say “It’s like budduh”—’cause it was.

wagyu beef and oysters for post-run dinner

Even better, we got our own bling: a gold-plated wine opener. We may not be able to hang them around our necks, but it was the perfect ending to our fun adventures (thanks, Tim!).

wine opener Morrie's (our bling!)

The next morning (as it was snowing), we stopped by the Sanford Sports Science Institute to check out their facility. It’s a dreamy place for a coach, athlete, sports fan or exercise phys nerd. Thanks for showing us around, Jason and Lizzy!

Check out their runners clinic and indoor fieldhouse:

Sanford runner's clinic

Sanford indoor fieldhouse

Where to next? Arkansas in April…stay tuned!

Want to join us in our 50 State Challenge? Tag us @TheEnduranceEdge with #FindYourEdge and #50StateChallenge. Swing by the office and put a pin on our map on the wall!