New York man racing across the country

Published: May. 1, 2016 at 3:08 PM CDT
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Jim Diego ran a half marathon in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday. It wasn't a fun race as heavy rain pelted the runners. After the race, Jim packed up and headed to Lincoln for Sunday's Lincoln Marathon. The weather on Sunday in Lincoln wasn't too much better. Rain fell throughout the race, but he finished in just over two hours, right where he usually does.

In 2013, Jim says he had never even run a mile when a friend signed him up for a mud run. He trained for the run, gradually increasing his distances until race day, but ever since then, he hasn't slowed down.

"Six months later I did my first half marathon and almost exactly a full year after my first race, I did my first full marathon," says Diego.

It was soon after that, one of Jim's friends mentioned to him that they wanted to run a marathon or half marathon in all 50 states. The idea stuck with Jim and it's what he's been working towards ever since.

"That planted a seed in my brain,"says Diego. "It's also just a way to see the country, in a very different way than a lot of people do,"

In the three years since that first run, Jim has now ran races in 46 out of 50 states. He crossed Iowa off the list on Saturday, and Nebraska on Sunday.

"I do get that runners high that everybody talks about because it's just exhilarating to see everybody out there for a different goal to be able to run that long of a distance, even in weather like this."

Jim still has four states to go -- Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, and Montana. If all goes well, he'll race in those four states by the end of July, completing his goal of running in all 50 states, but that won't be the end because Jim has another interesting goal, singing the national anthem in all 50 states.

It started after he sung the national anthem for a race in New York City. The video got posted to YouTube and he started getting phone calls.

"I thought why not...just reached out to the race directors of all the races I have on my calendar to see if they have any openings or availability and they want someone to sing," says Diego.

Diego had the chance to sing the national anthem for the Lincoln Marathon on Sunday morning. He's a bit farther behind on singing in all 50 states than he is running, with 8 states down after Sunday's rendition.

Just several years ago, Diego wasn't a runner, but he started small and now has run over 60 half marathons all across the country and even several races in other countries. He says that for people who don't think they can run that far or for that long, to just give it a try.

"Mileage sounds daunting, but if you can get out there for a couple minutes and run, amp it up to five minutes, to ten minutes, to fifteen minutes and pretty soon you'll be getting up to a distance like a half marathon or even a marathon."

Jim was born in Wichita, Kansas but has spent the past 10 years living in New York City. He'll get back to NYC late on Sunday, and up early Monday morning heading back to work with his next race on his mind.