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UW Alumnus Completes 50-State Marathon Tour

50-State Tour

UW alumnus Jerry Rief completed a marathon in each of the 50 states in under three hours by the time he turned 50

By Mackenzie Kinney

When University of Wyoming alumnus Jerry Rief was 28, he set a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states by his 50th birthday—all under three hours—by running no more than three marathons a year. On Jan. 18, 2015, he conquered the goal, completing his 50th marathon on his 50th birthday in Houston, Texas.

Rief ran each of his marathons in under three hours and is extremely proud of that accomplishment—becoming one of only six athletes to attain this goal. He’s now a member of the 50 States Marathon Club, 50 States & DC Marathon Group and the 50Sub4 Marathon Club.

Rief grew up in eastern Nebraska and moved to Torrington, Wyo., in 1979 to live with his dad. After graduating from Torrington High School, he did a year at Eastern Wyoming College and then joined the U.S. Army. He started running for the local Army track club in his spare time. He then became a UW Cowboy and walked onto the cross country team. Rief graduated in 1992 with a major in accounting and minor in computer science.

“I ran my first marathon in 1987 in Torrington, and by the time I graduated college I figured I had already run a few in different states, so I thought, ‘What a great way to tour the country,’ ” Rief says.

Here, he shares his motivations and memories of his 50-state tour.

UW Alum Jerry Reif runs marathon UW Alum Jerry Reif runs marathon UW Alum Jerry Reif runs marathon

What first sparked your interest to start running, and how long have you been running?

When I moved from Nebraska to Torrington, my step-mom thought it was a good idea to join some kind of activity, so I went out for track. I tried every event they had, and I was horrible at everything, so they just stuck me in long distance, and that’s where I stayed.

How would you describe your time on the UW cross country team?

It was good! We traveled a lot, trained hard and studied as much as we could. It was hard in college to try to balance athletics, academics and a social life as well as maintain a job to get some income at the same time. But I really enjoyed being on the cross country team.

What is your career?

I am a computer programmer with the state auditor’s office in Cheyenne, Wyo. We maintain the state’s financial and payroll systems.

How do you fit in training and running marathons into your work schedule?

I get off work early enough to run because I work from 6 a.m. till 4 p.m., so there is usually time after work. Also, we have an hour-and-a-half lunch break, so I usually run during lunch. I normally do my long runs on Saturday or Sunday.

Did your family travel with you to the marathons? What was that like?

My wife, Kirsten, son Jeremy and daughter Kiana traveled with me to some of the marathons, depending on where they were. They came with me to the ones in Hawaii and Alaska. About three of them my daughter actually ran the half marathon.

In which state is your most memorable marathon and why?

Of course Boston, because back in 1988 when there were only 6,000 participants, it was just an awesome race. The road is lined with people as you’re running along, cheering you on. Also, I liked the challenge of the course with its hills.

When I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., that was a great race because of the location, and I ran well. It was a hot day, and there were 18,000 runners in the race. I finished 10th or 12th depending on what you look at. I’m proud of the way I ran and finished that race.

How did it feel completing your goal in Houston on your birthday?

I emailed the race director seven years ago to make sure that the race was actually going to be on my birthday. Because it was my 50th birthday and the 50th state, I asked her if I could have race number 50. She said, “No, that’s for the elite runners.” Instead she gave me the number 5050, which worked out well. I was overwhelmed with emotions and relief at the finish line after finally competing such a long-awaited goal.

Are you going to continue to run marathons now that you’ve completed your goal?

Yes, definitely. There are many other goals that I have. I’d like to run in St. George, Utah, this fall because I ran that when I was 30 and 40, so I’d like to run it now that I’m 50. I also want to run a 100-miler in the near future.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I couldn’t do it without the support of my wife and God willing to give me the ability to run in the first place. Also, the interest in running by my kids keeps me inspired to run.

Accounting Program

Whether driven by technological innovation or world events, accounting is at the heart of decision-making in today's fast-paced business environment. A critical factor in virtually every aspect of any organization, the UW Department of Accounting offers both bachelor's and master's accounting degree programs in what is one of the 21st century's most diverse and stimulating fields.

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Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071


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