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Fifty State Marathoner
by Cheryl (Surratt) Murdock


July 23, 2004

On August 21 I will be running my 58th marathon in Ketchikan as part of my quest for 100+ marathons. As a 50 States Marathon Club member this will mark my 34th state plus D.C. I am looking forward to my trip to Ketchikan because long before I ever thought of myself as a "runner" I lived in the logging camp on Long Island with my son Aaron, daughter Amber and husband Lonnie. That was from June of 1985 until October of 1988. At that time I could barely run 1/8 of a mile, although I often helped one of the teachers (Dave Ulrich) with our school's cross-country team. My son Aaron was a pretty good runner for a 9-year old and could even keep up with some of the high school boys.
I will be returning to Ketchikan, while a number of my running group friends here in Pensacola, Florida are going to Anchorage for a running event a week earlier, because Ketchikan holds a special place in my heart. I have been back only once, in 1989. When my children and I left in 1988, it was to return my husband Lonnie Surratt to Morrill, Nebraska for burial. On September 30, 1988 while cutting trees on Long Island, he was struck by a tree and killed instantly.
Since then, my life and the lives of my children have taken many turns. We moved back to our home in Kalispell, Montana and in 1991 to (of all places) the Panhandle of Florida...Pensacola. My son Aaron manages an amusement complex on Pensacola Beach (he no longer runs) and my daughter Amber is married with a five year old son and four month old daughter. I am married to a "Kentuckian" who has taught me to talk Southern. For our honeymoon we ran our first marathon at Disney World ten years ago.
Because our winters here are mild our running season starts in late September and ends the first part of May. If you like to run, Pensacola is a great place to live because during that time period there are one or two 5K events every weekend. We have a running club of over 1,000 members and five smaller groups for training runs. The marathon here is the Blue Angel Marathon put on by the Naval Air Station-home of the Blue Angels. I got involved in my first marathon by accident, and it took 8 years for me to rack up 12 marathons. Then I got bit by the bug. For the past three years I have run at least of one marathon a month. I hope to have run over 100 marathons within the next 6 years and reach my goal of running a marathon in all 50 states within the next 4 years.
It was suggested by the Race Director of Ketchikan's marathon, Gayle Nixon, to tell you my story. I am hoping some of my friends from Long Island will still live in the area and contact me. Also, I am hoping there might be someone who could offer me a couple night's lodging. I don't take up much space, but have a tendency to talk a lot.
In my home here in Florida I have hanging two paintings showing Ketchikan and Deer Mountain, a carved paddle by Ernie Smeltzer presented to me by John Green School on Long Island, and several Native Indian drawings. I will never forget the experience of living in Ketchikan, Alaska and am anxious to see what has changed. My journey back to Ketchikan will be in memory of Lonnie and his love for Alaska, its wild life, and big timber. Life has been good.
Cheryl (Surratt) Murdock
Pensacola, Florida - USA



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