Most people wouldn't choose running marathons as a motivating factor to fight cancer. But that's just what Lisa Hansen of Estherville has done.
"'Can't' is not in my vocabulary," she said.
Hansen, a veteran of several marathons before she learned she had cancer in 2013, made the vow to complete a marathon-that's 26.2 miles-in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Lisa Hansen poses with a few of the participation medals she’s received from various marathons throughout the United States in her quest to run a marathon in each of the 50 states and Washington D.C.
Photo by David Swartz
Following a marathon in Los Angeles this past month, Lisa has now competed in marathons in 35 states and D.C.
With nine more marathons scheduled in 2014, Lisa expects to complete the 50-state goal in 2015.
Husband Randy said her beating the cancer in her neck and continuing to train for marathons while on chemotherapy treatments has inspired people all over the country.
Randy has already completed the 50-state circuit, but continues to run with Lisa as she completes her quest.
Lisa has already taken care of the two non-contiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska.
Marathons also have special meaning for the couple as they met in Storm Lake in 2004 while running the Marathon to Marathon. When the two crossed paths again at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., Lisa didn't let Randall get away and the couple were married Nov. 19, 2005.
Randy had suggested Lisa complete the 50 states early in their relationship, but Lisa didn't decided to move forward with it until around 2010 or 11.
"Sometimes the races are two weeks apart, sometimes six weeks apart," said Lisa.
Lisa is always working to stay in shape-running three or four days a week and lifting weights at home.
She has enjoyed several of the marathons including the recent one in LA.
"Honolulu was also very nice-it was beautiful," she said.
At a race in Dayton, Ohio, the Air Force had a stealth bomber fly overhead and create a sonic boom.
A race in Atlanta, Ga., had huge hills.
"We both ran well there and she felt better before her cancer (2011)," said Randy.
At Anchorage, Alaska (the Moose's Tooth Marathon), Lisa beat Randy by about 40 minutes. That also was before the cancer.
At the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April 2013-before her treatments started-she saw the horses as they ran by Churchill Downs.
Another good race was at Portland, Ore., in 2012.
Through her travels, she has met several influential people including Dean Karnazes, described as "the world's most famous ultramarathon runner, and Jeff Galloway, a lifetime runner and member of the 1972 US Olympic Team in the 10,000 meters. Galloway also writes a monthly column for Runner's World Magazine.
She also knows Bill Rodgers, a former American record holder in the marathon who is known for his victories in the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon in the late 1970s. Others in the running world include Bill Rodgers, Hal Higdon, Frank Shorter and Bart Yasso.
Lisa says she always keeps her goal in mind. For her, cancers is a reason to keep going.
"I guess I'm just blessed," she said. "For me, 'cancer' is just a word."