We’re number 38!

We’re number 38!

Jeannie and Walter Dewar of Dallas, Texas, were all smiles at the finish line of last week's 4-mile Arnold Mills 4th of July Road Race. Walter had just completed the run, his second of 5K or more in 18 hours. He is now crossing the country trying to complete one road race in each of the 50 states. (Valley Breeze Photo by Tom Ward)
Arnold Mills Road Race is the Rhode Island stop in man’s quest to run in all 50 states

CUMBERLAND – Walter and Jeanne Dewar of Dallas, Texas, started their July 4 last week with him running in the annual Fourth of July Road Race in Arnold Mills, then headed to Boston for a Red Sox game, and then to the Esplanade in Boston for the Boston Pops annual holiday show.

The day before, the 63-year-old ran in a road race that ended at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, and on July 6, he was in Vermont running in another race.

His goal is to complete road races of at least 5K in all 50 United States by year’s end. Rhode Island was number 38 on the completed list, and Vermont was number 39. On Sunday, Kennebunk, Maine, was number 40.

He has already made plans to complete the mainland states and then travel to Hawaii and Alaska.

“The whole point is to get to all 50 states in the same calendar year,” he said with a southern drawl. “I started back in January, and the planning has probably been the most difficult part because they just don’t run races all year, or during the week, so there’s been a lot of coordination.”

It was only a few years ago that a friend from his hometown chided Dewar on being overweight and having a high cholesterol level. The friend, a marathon runner, urged Dewar to take up jogging.

He began slowly, running a mile or so, but gradually increased that level so that a daily five-mile run is not unusual.

“I finally got to where I was doing quite a bit of running and I set a goal to beat my friend, and I think that I can do it,” said Dewar.

A retired teacher, Dewar and his wife, who still works as an art teacher in Texas, have another passion – Major League Baseball.

Several years ago, their vacations were planned around attending games at as many Major League parks as they could. To date, the only one they haven’t visited is the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

“This year was maybe the sixth time that I’ve visited Fenway Park and we love it,” said Dewar. “It’s one of the two oldest parks remaining and it’s beautiful. Wrigley Field in Chicago, the other old-time park, is a dump compared to Fenway.”

Entering road races has provided some great moments for the couple.

“There’s a certain cult among runners and race organizers,” said Dewar. “They’re all just so friendly. It’s been a wonderful experience and I never would have seen the things that I saw this year if it weren’t for running.”

Cumberland, he said, offered a unique perspective for racing because it goes through tree-lined neighborhoods.

“I have to get in as many races as I can when I can,” he said. “We did races in all six New England states in nine days, and I try to do at least two races on weekends in adjoining states when it’s possible. I ran one race in Omaha, Nebraska, and the next day ran one in Council Bluffs, Iowa, right across the river.”

The couple drives to most locations, although flights are sometimes necessary, like when he goes to Hawaii and Alaska. He traveled across the country racing while his wife completed her school year, and then she flew from Texas to the Midwest to join him through the summer.

He has been in races that involved just over 20 runners, and one, near Boulder, Colorado, where 40,000 ran.

“They ran out in tiers, with maybe 50 tiers in all, and the end of the race was in the University of Colorado football field, where there were thousands of fans cheering us on,” Dewar said. “It was really spectacular.”

While the goal this year is participating in races in each state, Dewar has become a serious runner. He placed third in the Arnold Mills race in his age category.

“I go all out as long as I can,” he said.

The trip to Hawaii has been scheduled for July 28 when he flies to Kauai to race. On his return, he and Jeanne will stop in Oakland, Calif., to catch a Texas Rangers-Oakland A’s game before driving to Anaheim for another race, and then to Las Vegas.

He will fly solo to Anchorage, Alaska, to race there in August. You can read Walter’s daily blog at http://50state5k.blogspot.com/

“We’ve been places and seen so many beautiful things because of this,” he said. “The United States is really a beautiful country. The Dakotas reminds me of west Texas, except with green grass. And we’ve been to some big cities, too, like Chicago and Brooklyn. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

And the last race? That will be in Dallas, when he challenges his friend who started the running adventure in the first place.

“This time, I think I’m going to beat him,” Dewar said.