Grandmother-grandson duo to race in 50th state next week
By LYNETTE SOWELL
After four years, more than 225 miles on foot, and thousands of miles by car and plane, a grandmother and grandson will have raced in all 50 states together.
Next week on July 19, Jan Ward of Kempner and Turtle Powell of Jonesboro will be in Alaska as they reach their goal. Last summer, the two reached the mark of running in the lower 48 United States, then added Hawaii as number 49 in July 2017.
Ward, who turns 73 this year, reflected on what it means for them to be achieving their goal.
“I think both of us are a bit emotional about the end of our quest. Me, more than Turtle. He has not been able to race with me this year and I must admit I miss him being with me a lot,” Ward said. This year, his studies and school activities have taken up the bulk of his time, running cross country last fall and track this spring, along with Coryell County Youth Fair activities.
The two are entered to participate in four races in Alaska, including the Moosehead 5K in Anchorage on July 19, the Glacier Half Marathon on North Douglass Island near Juneau on July 22, the Gold Rush Amazing Race four-miler in Skagway on July 23, and the Tongass Rain Forest Trail 10K in Ketchikan on July 25.
“If you add all those together that is 26.4 miles, a hair over a full marathon, and that will be our ‘unofficial’ full marathon for our racing Quest.”
Ward said she suffered a setback in October when she had an accident on her bicycle.
“I never thought I would not be able to complete the quest but the long hours of physical rehab have taxed my time and energy. I am a little bit slower in my times on all distances than I have been but I never have any doubt that I can finish any race I start.” Ward said she has been working with a personal trainer and regaining her strength and momentum.
Turtle called their mutual race quest the greatest adventure of his life so far.
“I am sad to see it end but I am ready to focus on studying at Texas A&M to become a mechanical engineer. I have learned a lot about discipline and perseverance in the past 4-1/2 years. Those skills help me in my studies.”
Powell talked about summer 2017, when the two raced participated in four events.
“Of the four races last summer, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Hawaii, the adventures we had in Hawaii stand out the most. My folks were with us and all four of us ziplined, snorkeled, attended a luau, rode in a helicopter and had a private lesson with a canoe club before we left the Island our last day. The canoe club had sponsored the 10-mile beach road race and seemed quite interested in our story of our quest. Maybe someday we will write a detailed book about the whole adventure.”
After Alaska, Ward’s next long-range goal is to attend the 2020 Nemean Games in Nemea Greece, with the hope of participating in a five-mile race that ends by going through the ancient tunnel the gladiators went through, along with completing a 50-yard dash in the original arena while running barefoot in a toga.
Ward said she and her grandson didn’t do this alone, but with the help of supporters far and near.
“I want to emphasize our profound thanks to everyone across the nation who has supported us and prayed for us these 4-1/2 years. Without their encouragement and prayers, financial support and room and board in many states we could not have done what we have done in the amount of time we did it in.”
A source of inspiration for Ward is one of her “sole sister” running partners, Laura Garrett of Copperas Cove, who Ward said has run at least one full marathon in every state, on every continent, including places like the Antarctica, the Great wall of China twice, and Boston.
“It was her racing story that gave us the idea to try and run a race of some kind in every state,” Ward said. “Since I was 68 before I started this running business, I figured if I could just do 5Ks everywhere with my grandson I would achieve something worth working for in my retirement years.”
She and Turtle began racing together when they ran a 5K in Lampasas back in October 2013, and then decided to run a race in every state. During the second summer in 2015, they covered 12 states and during the summer of 2016, completed 14 state races in 33 days, driving a whopping 9,500 miles.
Ward said she’s thankful for sponsorships, such as staying in the homes of friends and family across the country while they travel from state to state, with many providing meals and some even giving gas money. A running club president who owns a running apparel store in Kentucky gave them racing shirts and socks when they ran a race in Kentucky. Next week, when the two head for Alaska, they will be sporting shirts provided by Sweat Cove Fitness.