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Monday, February 25, 2013 - 20:35
(CNN) — (CNN) --
By Don Wright
I feel incredibly lucky to have the health and the years needed to run a marathon in each of the 50 states.
When I was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma nine years ago, only half of newly diagnosed patients survived more than five years. Since then, I've run 70 marathons, the most recent in Hawaii, my 50th state.
Hot, exhausted, sore, bent a little to the right, and walking a lot, I finally trotted across that finish line in Honolulu. I'm sure I had a big grin on my face because it was the end of a long quest, the completion of which was never a certainty.
There are more people who climb Mount Everest each year than there are runners who finish 50 states of marathons.
I remember laughing a little, feeling a mixture of joy and relief, as I limped to the table where I could pick up my finisher's shirt and medal. I didn't dare sit down at first, afraid that my muscles would cramp up -- I had to keep walking for a few minutes at least. Everything was sore.
But muscles recover, and I was soon off to the other events of the day: an interview, then to collect my wife and daughter (who also ran the full marathon). We checked out of the hotel and hustled to catch a plane, where I could finally relax. Sleep came easily, even on the plane.
Since then, the 50 States Marathon Club has accepted my documentation, so I'm a certified "50 Stater." It's done and official. Right now I'm savoring the temporary freedom from goals and running just for the joy of it.