Morton hits marathon milestone

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Narelle Crist

Contributing writer


“You can accomplish more than you think.”

Henry Ford was correct when he said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Dr. Bill Morton has accomplished quite the feat himself, something that not even 100 people in the world can say they have completed: Two marathons in each of the 50 states. That’s 100 marathons total.


It started Oct. 7, 2001, in Chicago, less than a month after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Morton completed his first marathon in 4:25:53 and an overall place of 16,586 at the age of 41.

At that time, there were no intentions of ever running another marathon. 

Less than two months later, Morton was visiting some friends in California. There happened to be a marathon in Sacramento Dec. 2, 2001. 

“So I decided to run it as well. It was at that point that I decided to try and run a marathon in every state,” Morton said.

Morton completed his first round through the 50 states April 20, 2009, at the Boston Marathon. 

“After running a marathon in every state, I thought about some of the races that I had passed up and wanted to go back and run, as well as races I wanted to do again,” Morton said. “There were about 15 of them, so I decided to do another round of the states.” 

By the end of 2010, he was nearly halfway there after running in 23 marathons in 23 states over the course of that year. 

In October 2010, nine years after completing his first marathon, Morton had arthroscopic hip surgery. This very well could have ended his run to 100 marathons. 

“I had 15 more races to go in order to reach my goal of 100, and the most difficult thing since the surgery was the actual physical rehabilitation,” he said.

With only one more race left, Morton faced a new obstacle to overcome — melanoma. While training for No. 100, he received the diagnosis. 

“The melanoma did not really affect my running, since I was already at 99 and was only a few months away from 100. I was not aware that melanoma can invade the lymphatic system and go anywhere in the body and grow wherever it plants itself,” he said.” 

Morton’s melanoma was successfully treated with surgery a short time later.

After increasing problems related to surgery on his hip, Dr. Morton is not planning on running any more marathons, “although I have threatened my wife with a third time around the states.”

He does have a new goal now of completing a sprint triathlon in every state as “the wear and tear on the body is less.” Morton has already participated in two triathlons and says that he really enjoys them. 

Morton is very modest about his accomplishment and doesn’t quite understand how it is that most people look to him with such amazement when hearing of his 100 marathons. 

“All I do is ‘sign up, show up, and don’t give up,’” he said. “I don’t think what I did was that big a deal. I have two friends who have run over a thousand marathons, one of whom ran 238 marathons in a 365-day period.”

Through such an endeavor, the simpler things have been highlighted. Darla Morton has traveled with her husband to 49 of the 50 states for marathons, missing out on Nebraska both times due to scheduling conflicts. They have enjoyed traveling together and have appreciated the excuse to see the country. 

“You learn that every state has great people and great places,” she said.

Dr. Morton completed his 100th marathon Oct. 13, 2013, in the same place where it began just 12 years earlier — at the Chicago Marathon. 

“I just hope to be an inspiration to my friends and family to never give up,” he said.


Contact Narelle Crist at