LIVERMORE -- Barbara Brady was a late bloomer in the marathon world, but she has wasted little time adapting to the pace.

A retired nurse and scientist, Brady ran her first marathon at age 44 and now, 25 years later, she has run 79 marathons, including one in each state.

"I started running at age 27 and had done 10Ks," said Brady, whose first marathon was the Los Angeles Marathon in 1990. "My husband and I did one (10K), and we loved it. And I got hooked."

From 1990 to 2006, Brady balanced work, family and running, and, by the time she and her husband retired in 2006, Brady had run marathons in nine states and become a member of the 50 States Marathon Club (www.50statesmarathonclub.com), an online health-and-fitness site at which its members share the goal of running a marathon in all 50 states.

"It was a big deal," said Phil Brady, Barbara's husband. "We weren't sure she could get it done at her age, but she is persistent and you almost have to be to run a marathon."

By 2008, Brady, 69, had run a marathon in 17 states and over the next three years she had run a marathon in 48 states. Through the course of her 26.2 mile treks, Brady has run in snow (Eagle River, Wisc.); temperatures that fell to 17 degrees (Jackson, Miss.), the 90-degree heat of Los Angeles, the woods of Anchorage, Alaska, and twice in the Boston Marathon.

But Brady's most memorable race was in April 2012. In front of family and friends, Brady crossed the finish line in her 50th state at the University of Tennessee stadium in Knoxville, the same city where she ran her first 10K and where she received her master's degree in microbiology.


Advertisement

"It was full-circle," Brady said about completing her 50th state on the campus. "It was fun going back to the same place where it started."

Brady's quest to set foot in all 50 states has also allowed her and her husband to see a majority of the United States in their mini-camper. The couple usually plans weeks-long trips during which Brady would run a marathon in five or six different states, allowing the couple to see a different side of the country.

"It gave us the opportunity to travel to tiny towns that you would never go to," said Phil Brady. "We would drive and plan our trips around the spring and fall marathon schedule."

Brady said she has been lucky to remain relatively injury-free during her journey to run a marathon in all 50 states. She did contend with ankle injuries after completing her 50th state but said the injury has healed and she plans to run in more marathons.

"It is a mental thing," said Brady about her marathon running. "You kind of space out when you're running, and you really have to like it."

---