50th Marathon Finish

I got a little lazy after finishing my 50th state and never completed a proper blog writeup. What I do have is a very nice article written by Jaime Mowers for the Webster Kirkwood Times….

Many runners have finished multiple marathons, but very few have accomplished what one Kirkwood woman has.

Sadie Smith, a 41-year-old mother of two who took up running as a hobby eight years ago, recently became the 10th woman to run a marathon in all 50 states within a Boston Marathon-qualifying time. To qualify for the Boston Marathon, athletes must meet time standards that correspond to their age and gender. For Smith’s cohort of women ages 40-44, that meant running all 50 of the marathons under a time of three hours and 40 minutes — an impressive feat at any age.

Running a marathon in all 50 states is an accomplishment itself, so running one in every state within that Boston-qualifying time is rare. “To the best of my knowledge, and that of that internet, I am the tenth woman in the country to have run a Boston-qualifying time marathon in each state,” she said.

Smith ran track at Mascoutah High School in Illinois, and later coached track and cross country during her time as a teacher. But she didn’t really hit her stride until she started running again in 2012 after her first son was born. What began as short sessions at a middle school track in Michigan, where she and her family lived at the time, quickly turned into much more. Her husband, Jim, started running, too, and the couple signed up to run a half marathon together. Not long after, they raced their first 26.2-mile course at the Chicago Marathon in 2015.

“After my husband and I did Chicago, someone at his work mentioned the idea of doing one (a marathon) in every state, and we pretty much immediately decided that yes, we should do this,” the self-coached, stay-at-home mom said.

With Illinois checked off, the two started registering for marathons in other states. Smith joined the “50 Sub-4 Marathon Club” on social media, setting a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states under four hours. But she soon had another goal. “About half way in (with about 25 states finished), I realized I was running them within Boston-qualifying times,” she said.

Smith had not yet run a marathon in Hawaii but figured if she could pull off a Boston-qualifying time there, she would consider the goal for her remaining marathons and states. When she crossed the finish line in Hawaii with a Boston-qualifying time, the rest was pretty much history — literally.

Love & Appreciation For The Sport

It has taken her five years since that first 26.2-mile race in Chicago to run a marathon in all 50 states within a Boston-qualifying time. It has also taken countless hours of training, juggling family schedules and traveling logistics — the most challenging of which was trying to make sure she could finish at home in Missouri.

Smith was set to run her 50th marathon at the St. Louis Go! Marathon scheduled in March 2020, but like most other races — and everything else — it was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. She kept training, hoping the race would be rescheduled later in the year. When it wasn’t, she then registered for the MO’ Cowbell Marathon in St. Charles scheduled for Oct. 4, but it was also canceled. 

“I patiently followed the updates for some of the smaller fall marathons and The Heart of America in Columbia (Missouri) looked like it would be a viable option,” Smith said. Race organizers secured permission to hold the event with a limited field of roughly 60 runners. Stringent social distancing protocols were put in place and the marathon was a go on Labor Day on Sept. 7, 2020.

“I never would have chosen to do this race on my own — it’s notoriously hilly,  and the weather is hot and humid,” she said. “I had serious concerns whether a BQ (Boston qualifying time) would be possible, but I figured if I could do a BQ on this course, then I could do it anywhere.”

Do it, she did. 

“All of the festivities I had originally  planned had to be canceled, but my family made the trip to Columbia with me and it ended up being everything it needed to be,” she said. “It was really special and it reminded me that at the end of the day, it’s not the bells and whistles of a marathon finish that are important, but a real love and appreciation for the sport.” 

Smith was the first female across the finish line at The Heart of America Marathon with a time of 3:33:42 — her 50th state with her 50th Boston Marathon-qualifying time. 

“This finish was made even more special by the fact that this race coincided with the virtual Boston Marathon race window, so my 50th Boston-qualifying state was also my official virtual Boston Marathon,” she said. 

Smith said nothing beats running the last three miles of the Boston Marathon, which she did in 2017. She was scheduled to run Boston a second time in April of this year before it was canceled due to COVID-19.

With at least one race a month, there have been many memorable marathons along the way. She clocked her fastest marathon in a time of three hours, 15 minutes, 40 seconds at the Mt. Charleston Marathon in Las Vegas. One of her favorite races is the all-women Leading Ladies’ Marathon through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Then there was Montana when her luggage didn’t arrive. “I had to go to Walmart at 10:30 p.m. the night before the race and buy a $17 pair of shoes,” she said. “The soles were shredded by the end of that race, but I still got a Boston qualifying time. That’s probably the one I’m most proud of because it was so hard, but it all worked out.”

Of the 59 marathons Smith has completed, she’s only been shy of finishing within a Boston-qualifying time twice. 

She’s now pursuing an even faster dream — becoming the first woman to run a marathon in all 50 states under a time of three hours and 30 minutes. She’s already met that goal in 31 states.

“Many of the marathons on my way to the ‘50 BQ’ goal were under 3:30, and actually all of them were within eight minutes of that,” she said. “I have 19 more (states) to go.”

Running For A Cause

Along the way to achieving these running accomplishments, Smith is also raising money for Kirkwood Area Every Child Promise, a nonprofit working to make preschool available to every child in Kirkwood.

“This sport has given me so much, and it’s important to me to find a way to give back to my community,” she said. “In honor of my ‘50 BQ’ state finish and my 10,000 miles of pounding the pavement, I am attempting to raise $10,000 for Kirkwood Area Every Child Promise.”


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