Bill Schroeder is not the kind of guy to do things half-way. So when he made up his mind to run a marathon in all 50 states, he decided he’d set a goal of running all 50 clocking sub-four hour times in each.
Schroeder, 56, began his marathon journey in 1981 at the Wade YMCA Pacemakers Marathon in Covington, KY. Since then, he’s run 29 states (and DC) and finished 70 marathons—all under four hours.
“I’m not sure what got me started on the 50 states, but I know it started in earnest in 2016 because I added three new states then,” said Schroeder, a former project manager at Dell, who now runs No Excuses Running, LLC.
Schroeder, who boasts lifetime bests of 15:45 for the 5K, 34:33 for the 10K, and 2:35:22 for the marathon, likes to tell people now that, “I am not getting any faster, so I need to come up with new challenges. New things that push you because that is how you grow…”
That explains Schroeder’s big push in 2018 and 2019 for sub-4-hour marathons in all 50 states.
“I know I only have so many more years of those,” commented Schroeder. “The plan is to have 40 states and 85 marathons by the end of 2018, which should make 2019 a little easier.”
In pursuing his goal, Schroeder has run a number of back-to-back marathons in one weekend.
“My first attempt at a back-to-back was January 2017, but the Mississippi race was canceled due to ice, so I just did Alabama the next day.”
In March 2017, he ran the Rock ‘m Roll DC Marathon on Saturday and followed that with the Lower Potomac River Marathon in MD. Earlier this month he ran Prairie Series South Dakota & Prairie Series Iowa marathons back-to-back.
Next weekend will include an especially taxing back-to-back effort. Schroeder will be tackling, Revel Mt Hood (OR) on July 28 and Jack & Jill’s Downhill marathon (WA) on July 29.
“I am pacing the 3:40 group for both,” said Schroeder. “They are both downhill marathons, which beat me up pretty good.”
Looking back on his many marathons, Schroeder likes to cite his breakthrough 2:36:22 at Chicago in 1998 because it was an eight-minute PR.
“It was a huge stretch goal that was accomplished and a race I talk about in my Goal Setting seminar,” he said.
He also has fond memories of running Austin in 1999 because he got married to Mindy after the race.
“Back then there was a two-person relay, so I ran the first half and then ran the second half with her. We finished in 2:58:56.”
One of his slowest sub-4’s (3:55:08) was the New York City Marathon in 2017, also one of his most memorable. “It was just so exciting to run through New York City and have so many people cheering and running alongside me,” said Schroeder.
A month ago, Schroeder raised some eyebrows with a seemingly extreme endurance feat, climbing not one, but two of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks the day after running a sub-4 hour marathon.
“In June I climbed up Mt. Bierstadt and Mt Evans the day after the Revel Rockies Marathon (net drop of 4,700 feet) and it was painful, but I didn’t want to pass up climbing a couple more 14Kers,” said Schroeder. “I have eleven 14Kers completed out of 58. Going up is a piece of cake because those muscles aren’t so beat up. Going down is extremely tough…”
If you’re wondering how he’s holding up physically, don’t be concerned. Like many 50-staters, Schroeder is remarkably durable.
“I think the biggest worry I’ve had was more from blisters or getting sick,” he said. “The biggest key to doing so many in a year is that you have to be disciplined. I have done 15 marathons so far this year. No way could I ‘race’ so many in a year. Instead, I refer to them as ‘long runs’ and try to keep them between 3:30-3:55 but have dropped under 3:30 five times—mostly because the temperature was so cool.
“I also learned that just in training sometimes your long run goes really bad (usually mentally) and that has happened twice this year, but I think I learned ways to cope going forward from both of those times.”
Schroeder’s goal is to complete his 50-state marathon journey in November 2019 at the Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Marathon.
“Running down the strip at night will be a blast,” said Schroeder. “I want to have my final state in a fun place!”