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Houston woman runs 256 marathons, in all 50 states and continents

January 21, 2019 GMT

Suzy Seeley has run in the Houston Marathon 25 years in a row. Twenty-five years ago, she never dreamed she would run marathons, let alone 256 of them.

In 1994 Seeley was having lunch with her son in his elementary school, and happened to be wearing workout clothing. One of her son’s teachers saw her outfit and asked if she was going to sign up for the upcoming Houston Marathon.

“I wasn’t really a runner though, and I didn’t enjoy it,” Seeley said.

It turns out that she did enjoy running long distances though. She ran in the Houston Marathon, and she says she was hooked after that.

Since then, she has run in a marathon in all 50 states, as well as on all of the continents, including Antarctica twice.

“Running is amazing. It’s been a huge blessing in my life,” Seeley said.

Running has even helped her get over her fear of flying. The first 100 or so marathons were all close by, and then she gradually started taking short flights. Once she got to 30 states, she figured that she might as well finish them all.

The same thing happened with the runs on each continent. A running friend had wanted to do Antarctica, and Seeley was hesitant at first, but she did it. That trip also included a run in South America, so she figured she should do the rest of the continents after that.

When asked if she had a favorite marathon, she said, “That is the hardest question ever.”

She did manage to list a few though, saying that she loved the World Marathon Majors, Boston Marathon, Houston Marathon, because it is in her backyard, and the Austin Marathon.

About the Houston Marathon, she said, “I like seeing everyone out there. All of your friends that are running is one thing, but everyone else is on the sidelines. You get to see so many people you know. It is a lot of fun running that course because of all the people out there.”

Even after 256 of them, Seeley says that they are all so different.

“There was a moose on the course in Anchorage, Alaska. That course was beautiful,” Seeley said.

Seeley continued, “In Africa we rode camels the day before the marathon. I fell off the camel and broke my arm. We went around looking for a doctor with an x-ray machine. That was my pre-race day. It was kind of a disaster, but it all worked out well. I ran anyway the next day with a plaster splint on.”

She also remembers that in Antarctica, the seals and the emperor penguins came up on shore to watch the runners pass by.

One might think that after 256 marathons, running 26.2 miles would get easier over time, but Seeley says that is not the case.

She notes that she always gets to about mile 6 and thinks, “Am I going to be able to finish this?” Then at the half way point she thinks she can do it, but then again at mile 20 she is back to thinking she will not make it.

Thankfully, she says, she has never had to quit a marathon.

“The goal is to feel good and finish with some dignity at the end,” Seeley said.

Seeley trains at Memorial Park almost every day.

“I take some days off for recovery, but I just train continually year round. We live really close to the park. I have gone around and around that loop… it has to have been a lot of times,” Seeley said.

In addition to her 256 runs, she is also a Guinness World Record holder for the fastest aggregate time to complete a marathon in all 50 U.S. states for a female.

Seeley never set out to make a world record, but many others thought it was a possibility.

“Other runners ask how many marathons I have run, and people would keep saying, for as many marathons I have run under four hours, about 210 of them, that it has to be a world record,” Seeley said.

Seeley continued, “I feel so blessed to be able to accept that award. I have worked at giving them evidence and proof since last May. When I got approved I almost fell off of my chair!”

Seeley also has a record for the most marathons run under four hours for a female through World Record Academy.

Seeley runs about 12 to 14 marathons each year. This year her stops include Calgary, Canada and Reykjavik, Iceland.

Her advice for other runners is, “Be consistent with your training and enjoy the race. It’s an amazing experience. The more training you have the better the marathon is going to feel.”

“Each marathon is amazing, but also difficult in its own right. Some of them are harder than others because of altitude or weather, or just how you feel that day, but I am always thankful to finish,” Seeley said.

rebecca.hazen@chron.com