Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 3,000 people participated in the University of Michigan Health-West Marathon Sunday, but for one man, the race was part of a much bigger goal. 

Sam Day, 37, started running marathons in 2006 as a way to honor his father who passed away from Leukemia. He often runs for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. At first, he just wanted to see if he enjoyed marathons. The answer became clear very quickly. 

“They’re pretty addicting and so after a few years, I started doing two a year, then three a year. I got up to five a year for a while and then, you know, life happened and I have a real job and I have a two-year-old daughter… more important things than running.”

He dropped back down to running three per year and began working towards his next goal: running a marathon in all 50 states before turning 40. Over the weekend, Michigan became his 45th.

“One of the great things about the marathon community is the community of it. I run a lot of these races by myself, but throughout the 26 miles any number of people will run up beside you and just start a conversation,” Day said. “So helping each other get through the hard parts of the race is really nice and then when you do run for a cause and you think about those people and their struggles, you know, what’s another six miles when these people have fought cancer and gone through chemo and so there’s, there’s a lot of emotions, but mostly positive ones.”

Day said the Boston Marathon has been the most impactful experience so far. 

“It’s just such a special race for any runner to do. The tradition and the city just all… they shut down the city for the day. Everyone comes out to watch and I still, I could still feel the final turn of that marathon at the end. It’s a, it’s a pretty emotional day and it was really neat.”

Beyond being able to say he’s run in every state, Day’s hope is to raise awareness not just for the causes people run for but also for a healthier lifestyle. 

“I just think it’s important to know that, you know, running is, it’s such an easy sport to start, ’cause all you have to do is buy some shoes and go outside and you’re already on track to being a runner or jogger or walker. I think that the main thing is just a healthier lifestyle and having fun with a good community.”

In the next two years, Day plans to run in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll reach the 50-state feat in Hawaii at the age of 39. 





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