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Miles and milestones: Meet the 71-year-old grandpa who crossed finish lines in all 50 states

Tom Pickerel from Genoa hit several other milestones along the way, including the 50-year anniversaries of being married to his wife and of being an educator.

GENOA, Ohio — Imagine not only visiting all 50 states in the U.S., but running a race in every single one. 

A 71-year-old from Genoa did just that, recently accomplishing his goal during a very special milestone in his life. 

Tom Pickerel says he's run 12 half marathons, a bunch of 5K races and some 10Ks. 

It all started on a vacation with his wife in Hawaii.

"You know, (it was) just-for-fun thing to do while we were there, and I found one that ran up Diamond Head. I thought that'd be a really cool race, to go up the Diamond Head and see the waves crashing against the shore," Pickerel said. 

What began as a fun activity, turned into a life accomplishment, after Tom's daughter-in-law suggested he run in every state. 

He and his wife love to travel and visit their children who live in different states. Some even ran alongside their dad when he completed his run in 50 states. 

"This October 3; Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon is what I ran, and it was in honor of the bombing that took place in Oklahoma City. It was a very moving experience," Pickerel said. 

Credit: Elaine Pickerel

Of course, he couldn't have done it without his wife Elaine, who stuck by him the entire way. 

"The struggle and all the really good luck on being able to have good traveling weather; being able to see the wonderful country that we live in and enjoy all the highlights of the various 50 states," Elaine Pickerel said. 

For Tom, the timing comes at a meaningful place in his life that just happens to hit other milestones. 

"(It) should've happened last year, but the pandemic got in the way and they canceled it. So, they put it off to 'til this year. Well this year, was Elaine's and I's 50th wedding anniversary. Plus, I've spent — this is my 50th year involved in education, so all the 50s kind of lined up this year," Pickerel said. 

It's a big moment for the father of seven, who has no plan to stop. 

Tom says he would like to run a half marathon in Paris and also a night race in Las Vegas along the strip. 

Plus, he'll be at the Turkey Chase taking off at WTOL this Thursday. 

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Credit: Elaine Pickerel


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