The following runners were the first from their state to register for the Kalamazoo Marathon, and are the winners or our 50-State Challenge. We’ve invited them to share a little about themselves . . . we’ll be adding info as we receive it, so check back and meet this year’s 50-staters.
ALABAMA | Mark Zaremba
ALASKA | Krista Wilkinson
ARIZONA | Lindsay Tracy
This will be Lindsay’s 4th marathon and 2nd time running the Kalamazoo Marathon. A lifelong non-athlete, she is pretty sure she shocked everyone when she took up running 6 years ago. After running several half marathons, Lindsay decided she would run 26.2 once as a bucket list item. However, within a week of completing the race in January 2019, she was already searching for her next. She decided on the 2019 Kalamazoo Marathon because she grew up in the area and her family lives locally. Her favorite part about the race was sharing it with her mom (5k) and brother (10k), and having our family show up to support us. “I am looking forward to making it a family event again in 2020.”
ARKANSAS | Joe Mebane
Joe has been running for most of his life (around 30 years or so) and he chose this marathon because a friend of his will be running it too. This will be his second. His last one was Dallas in 2012.
CALIFORNIA | Shana Brown
COLORADO | Derrick Stevens
CONNECTICUT | Carmelita Ortiz
FLORIDA | Brian Johnson
Brian first started running in 2010 for High School Cross Country but left it behind once he graduated due to various injuries. In 2016 he got back into it by running his first half & the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, FL. He decided to challenge himself further and his first marathon was in 2017 at the Disney’s Dopey Challenge. I have now run 4 marathons (all in Florida) and he decided to seek out cooler weather in a different state hence, Kalamazoo! Brian finished off 2019 strong with a 365 Day Run Streak and he is looking forward to what 2020 has to offer!
GEORGIA | Maria Elena Miller
ILLINOIS | Trista Gunderman
INDIANA | Jen Savage
Jen (Marathon Maniac #704) has run over 160 marathons, and comes for the Kalamazoo event each year. She usualy brings up the rear of the field, and is always supportive of those out there with the will to challenge themselves, no matter their speed or experience. Jen is no stranger to challenges, living in the real world as a life skills coach and cat rescuer (https://www.facebook.com/SavagesBeasts ), as well as a semi-retired high wire walker and unicyclist in the circus, and IndyCar technical inspector, among other things. Jen has overcome some major medical issues in 2018/19, and still keeps a smile on her face and her feet going forward… Jen can’t wait until May 2020 to meet everyone and check out the new course!
IOWA | Ann Hegstrom
KANSAS | Matthew Allin
Matt is an avid runner who tends to avoid structured races, preferring to run alone most days, but got hooked on the Kalamazoo Marathon after using it as an excuse to visit friends and has come back every year since first running it the first time in 2018. He’s excited to run again and hoping the course change will remove the dreaded popsicle hill (although, hoping the popsicle folks will find another spot to camp and motivate the runners). As a way of changing it up for the new course, he might try running without the beard this year, time will tell though.
KENTUCKY | Brian Rice
MARYLAND | Valerie Lancaster
MASSACHUSETTS | Jennifer Bell
MICHIGAN | Jim Stark
Jim’s marathon career started in 1997 and since then he’s completed 15 full marathons and one 50-mile ultramarathon. He’s been lucky enough to run some unique races including the Athens Marathon on the course used for the 2004 Olympics, the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland, and the 2019 Boston Marathon as part of the Stryker team. Jim has run every Kalamazoo Marathon that has been held so far and feels very lucky to be representing Michigan for the 10th anniversary event. His plan is to keep running Kalamazoo every year for as long as he can! The Bacon Zone is always a highlight of Kalamazoo and he’s hoping that with the new course, someone will start The Two-Hearted Zone.
MINNESOTA | Annie Harm
MISSISSIPPI | Kristina Rehm
Kristina started running in 2006 and decided in 2012 to work on completing a marathon in all 50 states (She had been working on half marathons before that). She finished the 50 states in 2017 at the ET Full Moon Midnight Marathon in Nevada. She was the first woman in Mississippi to finish the states. Now she’s just doing races that seem fun or interesting. Kalamazoo should be her 99th marathon. Possibly my 100th if she signs up for another race between now and then.
MISSOURI | Michael Straley
Michael has been running regularly for 15 years. He is happily married with 5 children, most of them all grown up. He runs to keep distracted from growing older. He started running 10Ks for the Victorian Classic in Eureka Springs but got into marathons when he met a dear friend who taught him as well as coached him. Now he finds himself a 50 stater. He’s run in 10 states so far with 16 marathons under his belt. He likes marathons that are on the smaller side and with a lot of tradition. Kalamazoo was his first choice for this reason and because of the community, but also, who can ignore the perks?! “The 50 States Challenge and the Earn your Mittens are so awesome that I am going to get spoiled by this experience. I can’t wait to run in Michigan with the Michiganders!”
MONTANA | Bob Johnson
Bob grew up in Portage, graduated from Portage Northern in 1974 and attended Western Michigan University. He still has family in the area. He’s been in Montana for 30 plus years. Bob ran his first marathon in 2002 at 45 years young. 19 marathons and 15 ultra marathons to date. His greatest Running accomplishment, 10 Elkhorn Endurance 52K races. An all trail race in the Elkhorn Mountains with 7900 feet of elevation gain and maximum elevation of 8000 feet. “Very challenging physically and mentally.” He retired October 1 and is currently the Fire Chief for Clancy VFD. He’s looking forward to visiting family and running a race where he grew up.
NEW HAMPSHIRE | Sherri Leatherman
NEW JERSEY | Darlene Kaminsky
NEW MEXICO | Crystal Sanchez
Crystal Sanchez will be 43 yrs old on race day! The Kalamazoo Marathon with be her 10th marathon. She is a member of the ABQ Sole Sisters (a kick ass group of women who run). She’s been running for 12 years and completed 1 ultra marathon (Pistol Ultra 50k), 3 of the World Majors (Chicago, Boston and NYC) and several of both the Disneyland and WDW Challenges (including Dopey twice). “I love this sport and so many of the people its brought into my life!”
NEW YORK | Kelli Mullin
While being a New Yorker for the last 2 decades, Kelli spent her undergrad years in Ann Arbor (where she was the RA of a little known freshman named Tom Brady…) This will be Kelli’s 37th marathon and 27th state–all things going well the day before in Kenosha! Kelli is a paramedic with the FDNY and will have lots of patches from her Manhattan station to give to anyone who asks. Kelli can be easily found at the very back of the pack shuffling along. She’s not very fast, but she’s just trying to make everyone else look good.
NORTH CAROLINA | Bonnie Alexander
NORTH DAKOTA | Mary Albrecht
OHIO | Mark Hausterman
This will be Mark’s 6th State and 24th Overall Marathon. He has Qualified to the Boston Marathon in 3 different races and ran it in 2011. He has been a runner since he was in the 7th grade and he continues to love running Full Marathons more then any other race. Mark’s Goal is to run in every state and run all 6 World Master Marathons.
OKLAHOMA | Michael Hall
OREGON | Stewart Myers
PENNSYLVANIA | Ashley Aumiller
RHODE ISLAND |
SOUTH CAROLINA | Sean O’Shea
Sean picked the Kalamazoo Marathon because he’s attempting to run a marathon in every state. He has run 28 so far in 25 states and Japan.
SOUTH DAKOTA |
TENNESSEE | Angie Zinkus
Angie is a Veterinarian/Co-medical director of Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital in Cordova, TN. Pictured with her is her dog Yogi. She has completed multiple marathons and ultras. She was the female overall winner of St Jude marathon in 2012 and won the Little Rock Marathon in 2015. Her first Boston marathon was 2013 (the year of the bombing). Her PR was in Boston in 2014 with a time of 2:55:02 (84th female overall).
Angie has taken some time off from marathon training and has just been running for fun while trying to juggle a busy work schedule. She has always wanted to run the Kalamazoo Marathon because it holds very special meaning to her. Her parents are from Kalamazoo and she visited the city many times during her childhood. Her grandparents (also Kalamazoo natives) passed away while she was in Veterinary school before she got into marathoning. Angie wanted mher marathon comeback to be in their honor in the city they loved so much!
TEXAS | Ting Lin
UTAH | Ben Fleming
Ben chose to run the Kalamazoo Marathon because who doesn’t want to run their home town marathon? He didn’t get catch the running bug until he moved away from Kalamazoo, he’s excited to get back to Kalamazoo and run! Ben is a 2009 graduate of Loy Norrix High School and graduated from Michigan State in 2013. He’s run a couple road marathons, an ultra distance race and a few ultra distance self supported runs through the Tetons and Uintas. Ben love’s running the early season marathons to keep him motivated during the ski season.
VIRGINIA | Jessica Anderson
WASHINGTON | Tim Cook
Tim Cook has a goal of running a marathon in every state. Kalamazoo, MI will be his 24th state and 35th marathon overall. A husband and father of three he usually plans vacations around marathons. Tim’s wife likes to drive to different locations on the course and ring cowbell. This will be our first visit to Kalamazoo and we are looking forward to it.
WASHINGTON DC | Lizzie Ulmer
Lizzie chose to run the Kalamazoo Marathon because Kalamazoo is her hometown. She’s always wanted to come home to run this race! Her family has been participating in the Borgess Run for years and now it’s time for her to come back and join them! She’s run three marathons and she got the running bug way back in middle school when her mom, a former track coach, suggested she join the West Middle School track team under the leadership of Coach Roach (Ooh Rah!). Plus, her sisters and Lizzie are pretty competitive so that helps, too!
WEST VIRGINIA | Jaquelynn Kapeluck
So I decided to pick up running as a way to stay healthy and fit and discovered how much I loved it. I randomly signed up in 2013 for my first half never running anything but a 5 k before. I finished it and loved it couldn’t wait for the next one. After 10 half marathons, I finally ran my first full marathon in 2017. My husband ran Kalamazoo in 2018 as the 50 state winner and how much he enjoyed the race. I signed up this year to make it my 5th full marathon. I’m excited to see the sites of Kalamazoo and hopefully get a new PR with my medal
WISCONSIN | Donald Cramer
Donald is running in the Kalamazoo marathon along with a busload of friends from the Badgerland Striders of Wisconsin. Each spring they pick a different destination race and this year they’re coming to Kalamazoo. Michigan will be his 13th state in which he’s run a marathon.