Army veteran aims to run in marathons in all 50 states
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The bling laid out on Ed Broadnax's kitchen table is impressive.
The medallions are large and small. Some are pewter-colored while others are gold. All are attached to ribbons, giving the pile the look of a rainbow.
Broadnax has earned them in his quest to run a marathon, 26.2 miles, in all 50 states.
The crown jewel of the collection — a 3-pound, rhinestone encrusted horseshoe — was added Sunday after a race in Little Rock, Ark.
Oh, and he ran a 50k race — that's 31 miles — in Lincoln, Neb., the day before.
Broadnax is on course to complete his quest on July 14 with a run in Missoula, Mont.
It's timed to coincide with his retirement from the Army after a 26-year career.
"I want to finish 50 states for the soldiers, for the Army and before I retire from active duty," he said.
Quite an accomplishment for a man who took up running at the age of 40 and was nearly beaten down by his first race, a mere 3.1-mile jaunt.
"I first ran a 5k, and it liked to killed me, but I finished," Broadnax said.
But just like the movie character Forrest Gump, Broadnax, now 46, kept running.
He's 16 races from completing his goal.
His motivation, Broadnax said, is his experience during deployments to Afghanistan.
"I saw a lot of carnage over there," Broadnax said, "and I decided I was going to run for the wounded warriors. Some soldiers came back all messed up. With the hardships we go through, I wanted to run on their behalf, for the wounded warriors."
Broadnax ran nine marathons in 2010 and raised, he said, a couple hundred dollars for wounded warriors.
The same year, he attended Air Assault School, where he outpaced soldiers half his age.
"I happened to be the fastest guy ... at 44," Broadnax said. "The instructor told me I was one of the best older soldiers that ever came to the course."
He proved that by doing a 12-mile march, carrying a 35-pound rucksack in 2 hours, 8 minutes, he said.
Broadnax has run on pavement, along wooded trails and on courses that had steep hills or were flat.
He has run in heat, rain, snow, darkness and mud that sucked his shoes off his feet.
He's run three marathons in five days and is a member of a national running club known as the Marathon Maniacs, which boasts more than 6,000 members.
He's also a member of the Fayetteville Runners Club, whose Facebook page is titled Those Crazy Runners.
Broadnax is the first to admit that he's not the fastest runner around.
"I run to achieve the goal. I run to finish," he said. "I train a lot of runners. I like to tell them it's not about being Speedy Gonzales. Run your time, run your race and run for your reasons, that's what running is about."
Broadnax plans to celebrate after completing that 50th marathon.
By running a 100-mile race in August.