Running a marathon in every state requires proper training, sound logistics and financial planning. It takes a little more for those who live in Hawaii like Ed Loy.
By Henry Howard
Ed Loy was fed up with himself in September 2004. At the time, he was a 280-pound college senior interviewing for jobs. He was convinced that no one was hiring him because of his weight.
“I made a resolution to lose the weight and finally get in shape,” said Loy, whose previous athletic track record consisted of playing pick-up basketball with college friends. “At first, I walked a lot to school and home. Then took up workout DVDs at home (Tae Bo). I lost the initial 25 pounds this way, but wanted more.”
So, at the encouragement of a friend and former “Biggest Loser” contestant, Loy joined a gym in May 2006. “I became a strength junkie, but the weight didn’t come off,” he said. “I walked/jogged on the treadmill and thought this was a little fun. Once the scenery got old, I started to run outside near my home. As the distances increased, the more fun I was beginning to have, but it was a challenge just to stick with it. Eventually, I started to look into racing and did my first half marathon in September 2007.”
10 Years, 50 Marathons, 50 States
That initial first half marathon soon transitioned into a full marathon. And one full marathon later turned into 50 marathons in 50 states — just a decade after he committed to losing weight and getting in shape.
He didn’t get there alone. Loy credits the Marathon Training Academy podcast, hosted by Angie and Trevor Spencer.
Early in his running adventure, Loy searched on iTunes for ways to expand his marathon repertoire. “I had run a few races already at the time, and just wanted to learn more about running and marathon training,” he said. “I found MTA in a sea of marathon and running podcasts, and decided to download one of their episodes and see what they had to say. I’ve been a podcast listener probably since Episode 5, I think, where I had sent in an email to Angie, and they gave me a shout-out on the show.”
He has continued to listen since then as a way to channel his running passion. “It was great to have met Angie and Trevor at the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2012 for the first time.”
Ed’s 50 State Goal
Looking back, Loy said he set out for the 50 state goal because he needed a sense of accomplishment.
“After reading up on the 50 States Marathon club, I noticed at the time (late 2009), that there were only three official finishers listed from Hawaii,” he said. “It got me excited to just be one of them and I have heard from a few friends that it takes a lot more, if you are doing it from Hawaii, and not just from anywhere else. I took it upon myself as a personal challenge and it became a lifestyle for the last five years. The hard part was the financial side of things. Training regularly was the easier aspect of it. Go figure!”
His quest officially began in October 2009. “I thought to myself I could do two marathons on back to back weekends. I had already ran Chicago the year before (2008) and loved every bit of it, so I returned to Chicago in 2009 and did Kansas City a week later,” he recalled.
Loy crossed the finish line at state number 50 — Kansas — on Oct. 12, 2014, at the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita. Of course, Kansas stands out among Loy’s most memorable races.
Among the other most memorable ones:
My favorite would be a tie between Walt Disney World (Florida) and St. Jude Memphis (Tennessee) marathons.
- Walt Disney World because it’s Walt Disney World and I got to run through the theme park!
- St Jude because I got to see the kids from St. Jude outside the hospital complex cheering on the runners as we ran through. That was particularly gratifying experience for me.
- Another most memorable would be in Wisconsin where I ran my current PR.
Logistics and Expenses
As you can imagine, there are many logistics and travel issues that challenge runners attempting this goal. That’s especially true for someone who lives in Hawaii.
“I would have to say both Maine and West Virginia were the top two most difficult to complete, especially with the logistics involved,” Loy said. “Both races were hilly and just states that were hard to get to. Following that is Rhode Island.”
For anyone attempting the 50 states goal, Loy recommends running locally first before jumping into the nationwide quest. The reason is simple: finances.
The financial aspect of 50 state marathons is very daunting and you may need to be regimented in how you conduct yourself in money matters,” he said. “Marathons are a nice excuse and a great escape to see the country (not to mention the world), but the main thing would be financial.”
If you and your bank account can handle it, then be sure to have fun on the journey.
“Finding the fun with the marathon training and the journey will help you in planning and financing the 50 states odyssey,” Loy said. “My recommendations would be to have a budget and plan accordingly, like how you would be going on vacation. Consider putting away an amount in a separate savings account for just traveling and racing. Small vacations and racing throughout the year helps motivate and inspire you to keep training and keep the 50 states marathons goal alive, not to mention all the friends you’ll be able to meet at these events!”
The Gift of Running
Loy has come a long way from the overweight, depressed college student. He credits running for helping to lift himself off the couch, and to keep his spirits high.
“Running is the gift that keeps on giving,” he says.
“The depression lifted when I had an outlet to channel into something positive while working towards my outward appearance, something changed inside me, mentally and spiritually, as well. I have a positive outlook on life as well as being more outgoing and trying to be more of an extrovert, rather than an introvert in my previous phase.”
Like many others who have found glory in fitness, Loy’s whole outlook has changed.
“I have more energy and a positive mindset, definitely keeping that drive and motivation to want to do more and see more,” he says. “Having running and racing in my life provides me that happiness that had eluded me for the last 27 years. I just recently had found it within the last eight years. It’s definitely been a game changer and has redefined me for the better and I don’t think I ever want to go back there.”
Speed drill: Ed Loy
Number of years running: Eight years
How many miles a week do you typically run: 20-30 miles
Point of pride: First marathon at Honolulu Marathon. It was my first time doing the marathon in 2007. I didn’t properly train and just winged it after doing a half marathon three months before. I finished the distance in just under nine hours and thought ‘Never again!’ By October of the next year, I was running Chicago Marathon and got myself a nifty PR. ☺
Favorite race distance: Marathon
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Pasta, pizza, and beer (pre race)
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: None. (I like nature and the cheering crowd support on race day.)
Favorite or inspirational mantra or saying: You have what it takes. You’ve run so many marathons already! Just one more mile and see what happens!
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
Thanks for the great interview with Ed! It has been so inspiring to follow his journey over the years and be able to meet him in person. I love the wall of bibs too!