We arrived in Minneapolis a day before running the Boom Island Brewery Beer Run in July. A few weeks before leaving home we had booked our hotel through Hotwire. We frequently take advantage of excellent deals on hotels that are listed by star level, area, and price but without the actual hotel name revealed until you officially book the room. The unnamed “4 star boutique hotel” that Hotwire had offered at about half the rate for a traditional reservation turned out to be The Marquette Hotel. Its newly renovated sleek decor and professional, attentive staff made it a fabulous find.
Shortly after settling in we set off to explore on foot. We knew little about Minneapolis but headed toward the Mississippi River anticipating that there would be some interesting sights and activities along the river.
A series of signs provided extensive information about the history of the falls, the flour and logging industry, and the development of hydro-electric power. We had no idea that our stroll over the bridge would lead us to so much knowledge.
The street across from the river is lined with a wide assortment of tempting restaurants and outdoor cafes.
The appealing atmosphere of the outdoor patio of Aster Cafe easily lured us in for a cocktail and dinner.
Although we loved our seats outside we wished we’d had a chance to enjoy the ambiance of the bar.
As we strolled along the street we came across these chalk drawings on the sidewalk.
There was no sign of the artist, Phi_the_Chalk_Girl, but encountering these drawings added a lovely bonus to our visit.
After our race the following day we were determined to crack the bus code. Our attempt to get to the race by bus had been a bit of a fiasco that became a last minute Uber ride. Minneapolis has many numbered streets…and, as we finally noticed, avenues. Once it dawned on us that streets ran in one direction and avenues ran perpendicularly and that 1st Avenue was different than 1st Street we finally got it.
Arriving at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by bus felt like a small victory. It was brutally hot by the time we arrived. Our progress around the grounds slowed to a crawl as we meandered through the exhibits.
We found these benches with quotations entertaining.
This iconic sculpture was especially popular because it sprayed cool water.
Although we were enthusiastic about viewing the exhibits, the heat was wringing every last drop of energy from us. Like a mirage, a simple sign stating “Sisyphus Brewery” and “air conditioning” appeared at the far end of the garden. Following the arrow across the street our relief must have been visible as we passed through the doors into a blissfully refreshing and lively pub. After a pint of William Wallace Scotch Ale for Mike and a strawberry soda for me we returned to the Sculpture Museum and resumed our stroll through the grounds.
Later that evening we enjoyed a dinner of local Minnesota fare at the FireLake Grill House. Our waitress, Amy, casually asked what had brought us to Minneapolis. We eagerly explained our quest to run a race in every state. As a fellow runner this concept seemed to ignite true excitement in her as she considered launching her own quest. Once again we couldn’t stop exclaiming about how truly life-changing this adventure has been for us and eagerly encouraged her to give it a try.
A sunset walk along the river after dinner completed our time in Minneapolis. The next morning we were off to North Dakota to begin our travels through the prairie.
Doing this quest to run a race in every state has literally been life-changing. When Mike suggested it at the Philadelphia Marathon seven years ago we had no clue what an amazing adventure this would become. We have become passionate about sharing our experiences and encouraging others to join the fun because we LOVE it!
If you’re intrigued by this concept but running doesn’t appeal to you don’t dismiss the idea. There are a multitude of ways to approach this goal. My friend, Anita, has begun her quest to hike in every state. We met someone who has their sights set on playing golf across the country. Others are planning to visit every national park. The great thing about a personal quest is that you can mold it into whatever inspires and works for you.
For us this quest has given our lives a whole new dimension. It has added a fun spark to everyday life. So regardless of how you approach this endeavor, we would like to offer 10 reasons why we think you might want to launch your own quest.
Increase your geographical knowledge Although Mike’s geographical skills definitely exceed mine, I will confess that given a blank map of the United States a few years ago I would have failed miserably at filling in the location of many states. Now I can solidly fill in virtually all of the states with confidence. Of course, spending a little time memorizing a map could have had the same result. However, the spots on the map wouldn’t be associated with actual visual images and memories of each location.
Take part in regional activities When we chose our race in Alabama we had only a vague idea that Mobile had any connection to Mardi Gras. But we got to experience an incredible Mardi Gras parade and atmosphere first hand in what we learned is the first official city to celebrate Mardi Gras. It was fabulous! We specifically went to Iowa during a presidential primary season since its first in the nation caucus is so famously a part of the political process. By chance we had an opportunity to go to a Bernie Sanders rally and concert right next door to our hotel!We also got to observe portions of an intriguing event in Iowa called the Tweed Ride. We had no idea such a thing existed!
When we ran in Seattle we were able to see the famous flying fish in Pike Place Market.
And these are just a few of the experiences we’ve encountered.
3. Conversation Starter Whether it’s telling race organizers that we’ve chosen their race to check that state off our list, chatting with fellow runners after a race, or conversing with a waitress during our travels, we’ve loved the conversations that have followed. I’m pretty sure we’ve sparked the urge to try this quest in a number of people. We have been amazed by the enthusiastic responses we receive when we talk about our experiences.
4. Try Local Foods and Drinks We are devoted to trying local cuisine when we arrive at a new destination. Cheese curds in Wisconsin were delicious. Eating them the night before the 13 Dot 1 Half Marathon, may not have been such a good idea, however.
Po’boys, hurricanes, and beignets in New Orleans were basically a requirement of visiting NOLA.
Gumbo in Alabama was incredible.
Bill and Terry took us to one of their favorite BBQ joints when they hosted us in Houston.
We had our first taste of a Waffle House breakfast in Mississippi. I think the waitress was puzzled by my inordinate level of excitement at dining in a restaurant that is as common as Dunkin Donuts are up here in the north but I was thrilled to experience this icon of the south.
Sampling local beers has also become an integral part of our travels.
5. Experience the beauty and diversity of the country I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Deception Pass, Washington
Green Lake, Wisconsin
Mississippi River- Davenport, Iowa
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mount Rainier, Washington
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Cliff Walk- Newport, Rhode, Island
Portland Head Light- Cape Elizabeth, Maine
6. Meet Incredible People This benefit has truly been one of the most rewarding parts of our quest. The people we met in Maryland couldn’t have been more welcoming and encouraging once they heard about our quest. Multiple people approached us to wish us luck and ask about our adventures-even as we began to drive away!
The couple we met in Michigan after the 13.Wine Half Marathon gave us terrific tips for the rest of our trip. The fellow runners we chatted with at the awards ceremony in Ohio were so congenial we were disappointed not to be returning to visit with them again. And when we gave our name at the packet pickup in Wisconsin the woman at the table exclaimed, “You’re the people from Maine!’ and promptly took our picture.
7. Long Run Conversation Topic Many miles of running have been spent reminiscing about races we’ve done and places we’ve visited. Debating which race was our favorite or how many half marathons we’ve done has kept us occupied for miles and has provided us with the fun of reliving our adventures.
8. Reward for training in winter We have frequently tried to schedule a winter race in a warm(er) climate. Since we live in Maine that is not too difficult. As we crank out our snowy miles we try to keep images of warmer, non-snowy destinations in mind.
When we step into a relatively tropical climate where the monochrome winter landscape is replaced by lush vegetation and the sun thaws our chilled bodies we agree it was worth every frigid mile we ran at home.
9. Chance to Visit Family and Friends Some of our most favorite trips have been ones that have included an opportunity to visit family and friends. Janet and John and Bill and Terry provided southern hospitality when we ran in Houston. We paired our Vermont race with a visit with Katie, which is always a treat. Annie was a superb tour guide for our whole family when we ran in Virginia.
Attending our nephew, Branden’s, graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy allowed us an opportunity to run in Maryland.
When we traveled to Pittsburgh for our son-in-law, Matt’s, graduation from Carnegie Mellon we popped over to Ohio for a fun race with the added bonus of having his parents join us on our side trip.
The opportunity to spend some time with Jessey when we were in Washington ended up truly being a highlight of a trip that is one of our very favorites.
10. Really Making a Difference Some of the races we have run have been very small but have been among the most meaningful events. The Hope for Hunter race in West Virginia was a tiny local race that was organized to support children with Hunter Syndrome, a genetic condition that primarily affects males for which there is currently no cure. An absolute highlight of the event was meeting a young boy with this condition.
We ran a similar type of race in New Jersey to support research for ALD. The daughter of the gentleman who founded the Run for ALD foundation and who sadly had passed away from this condition spoke eloquently about her passion for supporting research for a newborn screening that could save hundreds of lives each year. Mike and I left feeling so pleased that we had contributed to this effort.
Our most recent race in St. Louis, Head for the Cure, is devoted to raising awareness and funding to support the brain cancer community. Listening to incredible tales of people impacted by brain cancer once again confirmed that signing up for races that had a direct impact on others has truly been one of the most fabulous outcomes of our quest.
We began our quest seven years ago and have run in 34 states so far. Although we are hopeful that we will cross the finish line in our 50th state race at some point, we can unequivocally state that the journey itself is actually what it’s all about for us. We wish you safe travels and memorable adventures no matter what your journey may be.