At 48 years old, Warren native Dr. Jim Roberts, professor and chairperson in the Health and Physical Education department at Edinboro University ran his first marathon at the age of 16 back in 1986.
Roberts said, “I started running just track and field junior year of high school, but then I started doing road races like when I was in high school and I did my first marathon at 16-years-old.”
Sunday, January 20th, 2019 and Roberts can mark off his 56th marathon, but more significantly a marathon in Hawaii, meaning he’s run one in each of the 50 states.
“Almost everybody that does their first marathon says I’ll never do that again and then give them a month or two or six months and they’re like maybe I’ll try that again, Roberts said. “I think that part happened. I never thought that I’d be doing 50 states or 56 marathons or that type of thing when I first started.”
Along with close friends Chris Johnson, Brad Nelson and Marty Durnell, the group decided that perhaps they could maybe one day reach 50 states.
Roberts said, “we’d loosely tried to say well maybe we’ll work on this 50 state thing and that was back in 2003 so then it just kinda started, well if we’re gonna do a marathon lets travel some place and lets see a different part of the country.”
Highlighting Alaska and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Roberts’ best finish with a third place run out of around 200 competitors, maybe his most memorable run has to be at the course where it all started.
Roberts said, “and that was really like probably the coolest thing I’ve done sport-related in my life.”
A run through the original marathon course in Greece back in July 2017 was surely a highlight.
Roberts said, “it was really neat, because there’s different artificats along the way, at the starting line and of course it wasn’t closed for traffic so unlike other marathons I had done where you had people handing you gatorade or water, what we carried with us or purchased as we went along is what we had.”
As was running marathons in three consecutive days in the states of Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. Even running a marathon in under four hours in 39 states.
But sharing the moment and the unforgettable experience in Hawaii has Roberts feeling like he’s reached the mountain top.
Roberts said, “it’s very cool to be able to share that, especially that 50th one ya know? The 50th state to share that with all the other people that have supported me along the way. It’s just neat to have others along and to do things and see part of the country that we haven’t seen and (it’s) very exciting.”
Roberts finished first in his age group as he completed his marathon in a 50th different state.