Fifty Half Marathons in 50 States – Ormond Beach Observer | Dauktion

Emma Craik’s plan to run a half marathon in each of the 50 states did not have a glorious beginning.

Her first race in South Carolina in 2012 was a near-disaster. She ran with an injured leg and ended up tearing a hamstring and ruptured discs in her back. She completed the 13.1 mile walk and jog.

“I told her, don’t do it,” said her friend and physiotherapist Hella Reintjes, who is now laughing about it along with Craik.

This unfortunate start put Craik’s pursuit on hold for four years. The Ormond Beach resident returned to her search in 2016. Six years later, she’s walked 49 states, bringing friends and filling her travelogue with every sight she could find along the way.

She was scheduled to run her final half marathon in Maine on October 1st. But like her first race and most others in between, there is a story. This concerned Hurricane Ian. Craik and the entourage accompanying her for the occasion never made it to Orlando International Airport for her September 29 flight. The airport was closed anyway.

Instead, she worked at the hospital and a tree hit her house. But the damage was minimal. Maine needs to be moved. Their 10-year adventure never went smoothly anyway. But she seems to have loved every minute of it.


Craik, 48, immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1996. Her goal was to see the whole country, but life happened. She traveled for work, but did not have time for sightseeing, and then she had children.

As she watched her two daughters play soccer, a thought came to her. Instead of just supporting her children, she wanted to be an active role model.

“I wanted to do something my kids could be proud of. And you are. Every time I’ve thought about quitting, they’re like, ‘No, you can’t quit. That’s brilliant. You have to keep going.’”


“I wanted to do something my kids could be proud of,” she said. “And they are. Every time I’ve thought about quitting, they’re like, ‘No, you can’t quit. That’s brilliant. You have to keep going.'”

Her daughters, now 22 and 20, built her a wall display for her medals. Painted across the frame is the phrase, “I just felt like running – Forrest Gump.”

Craik has always lived an active lifestyle. She played field hockey and rugby in Scotland. She plays tennis and has run several 5 km (3.1 miles). She wanted her success to be more ambitious than a series of 5k races, so she chose to run half marathons. Now she jokingly says she should have looked into the 5Ks.

Her daughters Kira and Eryn joined her in Hawaii four or five years ago to run with her. They’ll never do it again, she joked.

“My older daughter was fine. My younger daughter Eryn complained all the time. She’s not a runner, but she actually placed first in her age group. And in the end she was very happy,” Craik said.

Hawaii was one of the states that surprised her.

“I never thought I’d like Hawaii because I live in Florida and you have the beach here, but it’s so different having the mountains and the rocks,” she said. “They ended up with this little church and a guy was playing Elvis tunes on his Blue Hawaii ukulele. It was just magical.”


Craik is not a fast runner, she says. Her personal best of 1 hour 59 minutes was at her second race in Tennessee – four years after the South Carolina race.

The number of trips she undertakes each year varies. In a few years, when her daughters were younger, she traveled to only five states. Soccer games, homecoming, and proms were priorities. Last year, with both kids in college, she ran 10 half marathons.

Sometimes she groups them. She ran West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio within a week with active excursions in between.

“I climbed the via ferrata in West Virginia (at NROCKS in Circleville). That was five and a half hours of climbing with metal rungs. I had no idea. I figured it was going to be one of those kid things you just overdo. I ran a half marathon on Friday, climbed the via ferrata on Saturday, ran another half marathon on Sunday, and ran another half marathon in another state a week later. And I was dead. I was bruised all over from the rock,” she said.

“We get there and it’s a snowstorm. We’re driving up a mountain, past car crashes, and we’ve done our hikes. All are in snowshoes. And we climb and climb.”


Her friends say they never know what to expect when they accompany her. Craik told Reintjes that temperatures in Colorado would be in the 40s and 50s.

“We get there and it’s a snowstorm,” said Reintjes. “We’re driving up a mountain, past car crashes, and we’ve been hiking. All are in snowshoes. And we climb and climb. Emma says, “You must have seen this lake.” When we finally got there, it was frozen, white. I couldn’t feel my toes. But that’s ok, we had fun.”

It was pouring rain in Idaho when Craik and her friend Anna Van Herck went to a hot spring.

“The water was raging like on the river right next to it. It was just incredible,” said Van Herck.

“If you went into the river, you would be gone,” Craik said, laughing at the memory.

In Alaska, Craik and her friends went on a flightseeing tour of Denali. Craik always has a tight schedule. But one of her friends broke her arm on the penultimate day, so they had to make a “quick stop” at the hospital. During the race, Craig saw moose.

“They’re about 14 feet tall and you shouldn’t run away from a moose,” she said. “So you’re like, ‘Do I keep running or do I stop running because the moose saw me now?'”

“They’re about 14 feet tall and you shouldn’t run away from a moose. So you’re thinking, ‘Do I keep running or do I stop running because the moose saw me now?’”


The best meal of your travels? The lobster rolls and bisque at a small restaurant in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The friendliest people were in Andalusia, Alabama. “I had a good time there,” she said.

Your hardest half marathon? Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she suffered from altitude sickness.

Craik has learned how diverse her adopted homeland is, both geographically and demographically.

“In Oregon, we went to the state fair and people just walked around with body paint on,” she said. “They’re a lot more reserved in Louisiana and the southern states, but everyone I’ve met has been really friendly and the runners I’ve met are fantastic.”

After Maine, she said she plans to chronicle her adventures and return to Scotland to visit her parents. She said she will continue to run 5km. But no more half marathons.

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