Wednesday, May 28, 2008


In case you missed it, Minnesota can now lay claim to the youngest person to run a marathon in all 50 states and on all 7 continents. Steve Hibbs, 36 of Brooklyn Park, completed this task on May 10th at the Brookings Marathon. I was lucky enough to first meet Steve in 1992 while we attended UW-Eau Claire. In talking with many groups of runners over the years, it always seems like there’s one person in the group that can remember every detail from every race they ever ran; mile splits, overall place, weather, etc. For the Blugolds, that person was Steve. We quickly learned not to second-guess his ability to remember details from each and every race. (Photo courtesy of Steve Hibbs)

First off, congratulations on becoming the youngest person to run a marathon in all 50 states and on all 7 continents. When did you set out to achieve this goal and how many marathons did you average per year during the process?
Thanks Chad! I first decided I wanted to run a marathon in all 50 states and on all 7 continents back in 1996. I was attending grad school at the U of MN and had run my first two marathons the prior year. I qualified for the 100th Boston (at the ’95 Grandma’s), which would become my second state. But, I wanted to go somewhere for Spring Break. I had never been to Europe and found out that the Rome Marathon was being held the same week as spring break. I called a NY-based travel agency and booked it that day. That was March of 1996, when I completed my 2nd continent and April 1996 when I completed my 2nd state. From that point it became a goal. Since then I’ve averaged roughly 6 per year, but I ran the bulk in 2005 and 2006 (42 total marathons)

What was your fastest and slowest marathon during that time?
My fastest was 2:31:46 at Twin Cities 2000. My slowest was Antarctica this March in 3:56:23.

What was your favorite marathon in the U.S. and abroad?
In the U.S. there are so many unique characteristics about a lot of the races so it’s difficult to say. Boston, because of its history and crowd; NYC because it’s NYC; Twin Cities because I set my PR. But then there’s Shiprock, N.M. that is in a desolate and remote part of the country or Moab, Utah. Both have spectacular scenery. Or Eugene, even though it was the inaugural race, it’s in Running Town, U.S.A. Or Knoxville, Sunburst in South Bend, Indiana or Healthy Huntington, which all finish in Football Stadiums. Then there are races like the Eisenhower Memorial in Abilene Kansas, Washington’s Birthday in Greenbelt, Maryland and Brookings Marathon in South Dakota which really cater to the runner and are extremely well organized for a much smaller event. But since you’re going to commit me to pick one, I would pick Marine Corp. It’s got all of the great features of a marathon. It’s well organized, it’s a great course, it’s got history, it recognizes a larger purpose and it has a great crowd.

Abroad, it undoubtedly is Antarctica. The second time running up the ¾ mile glacier I was parched, so I knelt down, put my face in a small glacial stream and drank the best water I’ve ever had (which was over 2000 years old). How cool is that!

Grandma’s or TCM? Why?
TCM. I like the course a lot better (there’s more to see) and there are more spectators, plus it’s my home course and where I set my P.R.

For awhile you were working at Northwest Airlines. That had to help with keeping the costs down. Still, I imagine this wasn’t a cheap project. Any idea how much money you spent on travel, hotels, entry fees, etc.? Or is it better not to think about the costs?
Working at NWA saved a ton of money. While there I ran a total of 38 marathons, including Chile, Tanzania, Honolulu and Anchorage. Those are some of the most expensive international and domestic marathons to run. But in all honesty I haven’t even attempted to figure out how much it has cost.

Now you’re talking about doing each state and continent two more times and have even placed an ad on ebay where you’re offering to sell advertising space on your race t-shirt and hat. How did you come up with that idea and have there been any bites yet?
I had a number of people tell me along the way that I should solicit sponsors. Finally, I decided why not give it a shot. No real bites as of yet, though. Honestly, I didn’t expect any. “Ad” space on a t-shirt for a guy who’s running around 3 hours isn’t in high demand. But I thought for $5 on Ebay, it couldn’t hurt to try.

If you don’t get any sponsorship, will you still try to go through with it?
Yeah, it will just take longer. Although, I’m starting my own Marathon Tour company and will go to 6-8 international marathons a year. As I accumulate Frequent Flyer miles, I’ll redeem them to run the U.S. marathons.

What are your PRs?

Mile: 4:27 (2001)
Two Mile: 9:32 (1992)
5k: 15:38 (2000)
5 Miles: 25:53 (2000)
10k: 33:16 (2001)
15k: 48:32 (2002)
½ Marathon : 1:13+ (2001)
Marathon: 2:31:46 (2000)

I think most people would agree that runners reach their peak somewhere between 25 and 35 years of age. You spent those years focusing on running lots of marathons. Any regrets about focusing on quantity rather than quality during your peak years?
Not at all. I ran most of the PR’s above between 2000 and 2002. So I ran most of them during that peak range. With how much I was working after that point, there just wasn’t the time to focus on quality. So I was o.k. sacrificing quality to get the quantity. And I still managed to throw out a 2:48, in Sydney, during that time. Slowly I’m getting back into the kind of shape I was in during 2000, but it’s taking a while.

All right, let’s back up. How did you get involved with running?
Long Story. Here’s the quick version. I was really competitive with my sister, who was three school years ahead of me. She lettered during High School and I wanted to letter more times than her. I wanted a fall sport, in which to letter, so I chose the one I thought I had the best chance in – Cross Country.

What kind of influence did your legendary high school coach, Rick Kleyman, have on you and your running?
Huge. He’s the one who really taught me to believe in myself and that I could accomplish whatever I wanted.

In general, what is your training philosophy?
It depends what type of event I’m training for. Before this year, when I was training for a marathon, I had three distinct phases – Strength, Speed, Endurance. During a twelve week program I would do hills the first four weeks, shorter intervals (1k to 1 mile) the second four weeks and longer endurance intervals the last four weeks (2 miles to 5k). I would also build my mileage from 50/week to 80/week. But I have a propensity to develop stress fractures. Now I keep my mileage the same (around 50 miles/week) and increase the intensity (started at 7:00 pace and am now consistently training at 6:30 pace). I’m also doing the vast majority of my training on a treadmill, which is helping me stay injury free.

What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
I don’t know if I really have any strengths. One might be that I can pretty much train for a few weeks and go out and run close to a 3:00 hour marathon. I have plenty of weaknesses, though. Like I said, I get injured a lot. I don’t eat very healthy foods. I don’t cross train enough. The list goes on and on.

What is your fondest running memory?
I have three of them. My last chance High School two-mile race, where I subbed 10 minutes in the two-mile for the first time. Winning the Buckshot 5 mile race in 2000, in my PR. And running my PR at TCM in 2000.

Do you have a favorite local race that’s not a marathon?
I did. It was Easy-Does-It. I ran the race every year from 1990 to 2006. It was tough to see it end. Other then that, I like the Hennepin Lake Classic 5k and Firecracker 10k.

If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
All of Minnesota’s prior Olympians. There are too many to name, but to get them into one big group for a run (a long run) and listen to their Olympic stories would be cool. Otherwise, it would be cool to run with Ted Braggans, who is the first Minnesotan to complete 50 states & 7 Continents.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
That upper body strength is just as important as lower body strength. I ran all of my PR’s after including weight training into my regimen. I find that I am much more efficient and get less tired when I’ve done upper body lifting.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


thanks for sharing this interview. reconnecting with steve on facebook and hearing about his marathoning exploits was part of the motivation that got me back into running. since that inspiration last fall i have shed 70 pounds and completed one marathon and one 50k. i am looking forward to running the minneapolis marathon in a few weeks.

part of steve's highlight at his high school last-chance two mile race was flying by me for his sub-10 and his beat-rob-victory :) i mentioned to him that i would like a rematch around our 40th birthdays (i still have a lot of speed work to do).

thanks again,