Grandmother/grandson duo to run 50 state races
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Some teens plan to pack their schedules for summer vacation, but during summer vacation 2017, 14-year-old Wyatt Lee Turtle” Powell of Jonesboro along with his grandmother, Jan Ward of Copperas Cove, will get even closer to an ultimate goal, that of running a race in all 50 states.
With summer vacation 2017 kicking off at the end of last week for Central Texas students, it leaves Powell and Ward only five states to race to achieve their goal. This summer they will reach their goal of having run a race in each of the lower 48 states and a race in Hawaii, leaving Alaska as the state where they will complete their quest in 2018.
On Friday afternoon, Powell and Ward headed for the Austin airport to fly off to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho for a half-marathon on Sunday. June 10 will find them in St. Regis, Montana for a 12K trail race, which they will run on Turtle’s 15th birthday. After that, it’s off to Bottineau, North Dakota for The Lake Metigoshe Turtle Trot 10K on June 24.
Ward, who turns 72 this year, is an avid runner and said she and Turtle began racing together when they ran a 5K in Lampasas back in October 2013.
“We very soon got the idea to run a race in every state and visit as many states as we could,” she said. “We took trips at Christmas, spring breaks and summers. The first year, we did 11 states in the summer.”
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.
The goal was to finish by the year 2020, when Turtle is a senior, but Ward said with all he’s involved in with school, they felt the urgency to “giterdun.” He would like to attend Texas A&M and become a mechanical engineer.
Turtle said he enjoys running and is competitive, but he doesn’t always come out on the winning side. But he and his grandmother have amassed a collection of medals along the way.
“My favorite events would have to be an inflatables race in Virginia, and a race in Mankato, Minnesota, where everyone was chased by roller derby girls who tried to put stickers on everyone. The ones who finished with the fewest stickers, won prizes,” Turtle said.
He said after he and his grandmother achieve their goal, he’ll probably back off on races for a while.
The pair have enjoyed participating in Central Texas running events from 5Ks to 10Ks. Ward has also run eight half-marathons, and Turtle, four. More recently, the two ran in the Jackrabbit Run 4 Hope in Copperas Cove a little more than a week ago.
“We have found interesting races, trail runs, mountain ascents, insane inflatables, ice cream socials, barefoot beach runs, etc.,” Ward said. “It’s been a lot of fun. I have made T a scrapbook each year for Christmas, highlighting each race.”
Ward said last year’s favorite race for her was the L.L. Bean 10K in Freeport, Maine, because she previously lived in Maine for five years. “We represented Texas well.”
The duo’s crowning race for summer 2017 will be the Hawaii 10-mile beach road run. They will end their 50-state saga in July 2018, with a racing cruise to Alaska. Turtle aims to run the equivalent of a full marathon during that trip, and Ward will run a half-marathon.