Dave Anderson

Running through the states: Anderson one state away from marathons in all 50

Posted by Centre News in News 22 Jun 2016

Dave Anderson runningThis article originally appeared in The Advocate-Messenger. David Anderson, Paul G. Blazer Professor of Economics at Centre College, has expertise in the economics of law, crime and the environment.

Running has given Dave Anderson quite a bit.

He met his wife, Donna, while running in a half marathon to train for his first marathon in 1990. He has made connections with lifelong friends. He’s watched as his children, Austin and Ally, have excelled in the sport.

And Saturday in North Dakota, running will give him one more highlight — a completed marathon in all 50 states. He’ll go for that rare feat at the Run ND Marathon, just outside of Bismarck.

“Like some people enjoy golf, I enjoy running,” Anderson said. “It’s a way to unwind and a way to socialize. I guess it’s because I enjoy every minute of the long preparation that it feels like a fun hobby.”

Anderson’s first two marathons were in Montreal, Canada, and Washington D.C., so those technically don’t count towards his total. His first marathon in the states was in 1993 in San Francisco.

From ‘93 until his first race in 2005, when he ran in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Anderson completed only four marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2000. He began to realize he could accomplish 50 in 50 around 2007 when he started doing multiple marathons per year.

His pace has picked up over the last few years — averaging nearly six per year over the last four years — with his fastest time coming in the 2010 Houston Marathon in 2 hours, 56.21 minutes. He’s finished as high as third overall, which he’s done twice.

Anderson said his favorite marathons have been New York, New Orleans and Honolulu because of their “vibrant crowds and great sights.” The hardest was Lake Tahoe, due to its elevation and steep climbs.

“Elevation is always a challenge to me,” Anderson said. “The one I did last week (in Casper, Wyo.) was difficult because it was a mile high. Lake Tahoe I think is even higher. … We got there the night before, so I was feeling the elevation sickness, I was throwing up in my hotel room just being there.

“Another one that was super hard, while it wasn’t a full marathon but it was as long as a marathon time-wise, was the Pike’s Peak Ascent. You go up to 14,000-and-some feet, and once I got above the tree line at 10,000 feet, I was feeling miserable.”

Running the marathon is only part of the equation. Anderson has to train extensively before each race, from putting distance on the roads to other workouts to keeping a close eye on his nutrition.

Anderson will adjust his training depending upon what he knows of a course, particularly if there are a large number of climbs. The race in North Dakota has another feature which has forced Anderson to add another feature to his runs.

“The one coming up … has an incredible number of sharp turns, it kind of wiggles through the full course, so to prepare for that in my running, I’ve been going back and forth on the road, trying to get my legs used to making sharp turns,” Anderson said.

He said the one feature of a marathon which can add difficulty are downhill portions. While most people believe running downhill is easier, if a runner hasn’t training his quadriceps to take on that extra load, it can mean slower times than races ran uphill.

Training and competing in marathons can mean more time away from his family. For marathons when his family can’t come along, he’ll do a “fly-by marathon,” where he’ll arrive the night before and leave the afternoon after the race to limit the time away from his family.

However, his wife and kids are all runners as well, so he said they can appreciate and understand his devotion to competing in marathons. Donna is an accomplished runner and coaches the Boyle County High School cross country teams. Austin and Ally are both champion runners, with Austin now running track and cross country at Williams College in Massachusetts and Ally entering her sophomore year for the Rebels.

“It really has made a huge difference to have that family support,” Anderson said. “The training takes a lot of time, there are a lot of trips … a family that was less understanding would get upset about that. I really appreciate their understanding.”

As the years have progressed, Anderson’s times have slowed down and his goals have changed. The first goal has continued throughout, to finish the race, but now he’s focusing on running his best time in recent races and going under 3:10.

It’s been a steady progression for Anderson through his years running. He’s learned much about training and nutrition, but it all starts with an acknowledgement that 26.2 miles is a long way to run.

“I’ve developed a real respect for that distance,” Anderson said. “Before I did my first one, I knew a lot of people were doing marathons and so I was kind of thinking how hard could it be, and it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought.”

by Jeremy Schneider, The Advocate-Messenger
June 22, 2016

Photo credit: CK Photography