Ex-Lynn track star wants to run a marathon in all 50 states before she hits 50

Ivy Farguheson plans to run a marathon in all 50 states by the time she turns 50.

If you were to find out that Ivy Farguheson has run marathons in 47 states, you might naturally assume she’d  be eager to talk about Heartbreak Hill and the cheering throngs at Boston College.

But oddly enough, the former Lynn English track star has never run Boston.

“I never qualified for it,” she said. “For a little bit of time, I tried to qualify for Boston, but I wasn’t as fast as I needed to be.”

That will not stop Farguheson, a vice principal at a charter school in Salt Lake City, Utah, from achieving her goal of running in all 50 states by the time she turns 50. 

“I ran one in Plymouth,” said Farguheson, whose mother, Sandra, works at the Ingalls School. “And it was a hard course. Lots of hills.”

“Hard course” is a relative term. She learned that quickly the first time she did the 26.2-mile trek. That was in Albuquerque, N.M.

“I lived there at the time,” she said. “It was the Duke City Marathon in 2004. I was 29, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t do any training in the last two weeks before the race. And I finished in 5:40. When I got to the finish line, they were already wrapping everything up. There were no drinks, no food, no nothing.”

Farguheson was ready for the next one, in Richmond, Va.

“I wanted to do the Marine Marathon, but that was full. But when that happens, they give you a list of all the other races in the area. I chose that one.”

“I prepared,” she said. “And I trained correctly. I did a lot better.”

She did so well, in fact, that she only has three states left to reach her goal: Delaware and Rhode Island, which she will run a week apart in April and May, and Alaska. 

Farguheson, now 45, ran track for English, including cross country, in the early 1990s, but says there was really no cause-and-effect between that and her latest endeavors.

“My coach (George Langlais) tried to teach me the hurdles, but I couldn’t get into a rhythm. That’s what I like best about running. You get into a rhythm, and you just relax and run.”

Her job as a newspaper reporter/teacher/administrator took her all over the country, and one of her landings was in Indiana.

“It’s kind of close to everything, including the Great Lakes,” she said. “I had friends who were crazy. They did ironmans. I don’t do that.

“But they’d say ‘there’s a race in Wisconsin,’ or ‘there’s a race in Grand Rapids.’ There are a lot of states that border the Great Lakes, and I ran in all of them. Once I finished, I got the idea to do this.”

For the record, eight states, stretching from New York to Minnesota, border at least one of the five lakes. The others are Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Along the way, she concluded her hardest course was in Asheville, N.C.

“It’s nothing but hills,” she said. “They’re endless. They’re in the mountains, and it’s beautiful.”

Her favorite of the 56 races she’s run (“I’ve been doing eight of these a year for the last few years”) was in Fargo, N.D.

“I never had any intention of going to North Dakota,” she said. “But it was one of the funnest marathons I’ve run. It was their Boston. The whole community came out for it.”

She says she’s been able to transfer the lessons she’s learned running marathons to her job as an assistant principal.

“If I can run 26 miles, I can do anything,” Farguheson said. “Whenever things get hard, and they do get hard, I can deal with anything. Including the stuff that goes on at the school.”

The question now is what comes after she finishes her tour of the United States.

“Everyone asks me that,” she said. “I’m working on my PhD. It’ll give me time to work on my dissertation plan. And my principal thinks I should do half-marathons in every state, which would be fun.”


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