Although I lived in the United States for a year as an AFS student in 1962-63 and although I spent more than two months in US while I was on my first sabbatical leave in 1976, it wasn't until 1985, while I was on my third visit to the country, that I ran in America. On that occasion, I ran in three separate states during a two-and-a-half week stay in the USA. My next trip to the US was three years later – when I was at the apex of my abilities as a runner – and I enjoyed running in two more states. Nine years went by before I next ran in the USA, but while on a climbing trip to the United States in 1997, I again increased my running states' tally by two.
Towards the end of the following year, I spent five weeks in the USA and ran in four new states. After each run, I emailed a "poem" (for the want of a better word) to my son, Evan. The poems didn't mention the names of the states I'd run in, but – instead – contained clues as to which states they were.
After that, I was hooked – on both accounts. Not only did I devote considerable efforts to increasing the number of states I ran in, but I also continued to write poems about each of the new states that I ran in, and – for better or for worse: well, almost certainly for worse! – the poems, or rather the poor instances of bad doggerel, got considerably longer. My first poem – about my run in my eighth US state – was a mere two lines long; some of my later poems reached 24 lines …
To qualify, a run had to fulfil two conditions (and as I set the rules, they we're both intelligent and inviolable). A run had to be at least 5 miles (i.e., 8 kilometres) long; and it had to be on the ground (as a result of the latter rule, I once vetoed the prospect of running on the spot on a bus I was travelling in that spent 45 minutes passing through a corner of Kentucky!). Following those rules, it took me more than 32 years to run in all 50 states of the USA. The states are shown in the jig-saw map in the masthead photograph in the top left-hand corner of this web-page (you can click on the map if you'd like to see a larger version of it). The colours on the map do not represent the states' political loyalties. Instead, the states shown in red are the first 25 states I ran in; the states I ran in during the second half of my quest are coloured blue.
For those of you who appreciate statistics, I have also included a graph illustrating the number of new states I ran in by the year in which I ran in them.
The graph employs the same colour-coding used in the map of the USA. Red bars do not show Republican states. They represent the first 25 states I ran in. Likewise, blue bars do not represent states that favour the Democrats, but – rather – illustrate the last 25 states in which I ran. (I confess, though, that as a psephologist, I could not resist tallying the Electoral College votes the red states and the blue states would have won had my running map of the USA illustrated a Presidential election. Red states, including the District of Columbia, would easily have won the election: they garnered 302 Electoral College votes compared with the blue states' total of 236.)
However, the vast bulk of this web-page consists of the poems that I wrote for each of the 50 states. (It should be noted that the poems for states 1 to 7 were written well after the event, to complete the record.) Each state's poem is also accompanied by a photograph illustrating either where or with whom I ran, or some aspect of the state's identity. You are welcome to see if you can work out which states the poems refer to. The states are indexed in the left-hand side bar on this page (i) by the order in which I ran in them and (ii) by their names in alphabetic order, so – if you want to check whether you've correctly guessed which state I am referring to in any of my poems – simply click on the state's name in the second side-bar list to see whether you were right or not.
I have had a huge amount of fun running in all fifty states of the USA, and I also had a lot of fun doggedly composing doggerel about them. I hope that you have fun and enjoy reading these "poems". However, given the subject matter of my rude verses (the definition of "rude" in this context is, of course, "lacking refinement or elegance"), I won't be too upset if you run away from them ...
State number 1:
RUNNING ALONGSIDE THE RIVER THAT RUNS THROUGH IT
My first-ever run in the US of A
Was in '85 – on the 14th of May,
And although I did not know it then
'Twas in a state I'd visit again and again.
I first went to the state to work on a book
That I helped write and which took
Three countries – America, Israel, and New Zealand –
And studied "pol. tol." in them at first hand.
Then fifteen years later, Evan went to the very same state
To do his PhD, and from there too he did graduate.
Heather and I thus visited him year in and year out,
Which is why I've run most in this state, of that there's no doubt.
The Mississippi River doth begin in this state and flow
Through its two main cities, so that's oft where I do go
To run beside the mightiest river in the US.
So which state was number one? You'll easily guess!
My first run in the United States was on Tuesday, 14 May 1985,
and was along this riverside boulevard. Since then I have run
often than anywhere else in the United States.
State number 2:
WHERE THE REVOLUTION BEGAN
The second US state in which I ran
Was where the American revolution began:
The tea party; minute men; and Paul Revere –
That the state's a source of history is very clear.
Unlike the first US state in which I ran, I'd been
To my second running state already and had seen
My aunt, uncle and cousins there twice before.
Running in the state thus brought memories of yore
Of how I visited the state alone in 1963,
But how in '76, both H. and E. came with me.
They're all the clues to this state's name that I'll allow.
Surely you can work out where it is now!
On 18 April 1775, Paul Revere rode through my state number two,
mythically shouting "The British are coming; the British are
coming!" Two hundred and ten years later — on Wednesday,
22 May 1985 — I first ran in the state, shouting nothing ...
State number 3:
THE ATLANTIC'S ROCKY SHORE
My run in state number three
Was from my aunt's house by the sea.
I ran to the harbour village store
Close to the Atlantic's rocky shore.
The name of the third state in which I ran
With the same letter as states one and two began,
But whereas state one was pure mid-west,
For state three, its last two letters are best
Used as a clue to its unique location
In an uppermost corner of the nation.
I'm sure these hints won't be in vain:
They'll inform you – as well as entertain!
A photograph of the rocky shoreline near my aunt and uncle's seaside
in the 3rd US state in which I ran. The only run I have ever had
this state was on Friday, 24 May 1985.
State number 4:
ROYALTY, PRESIDENTS, AND FRIENDS
From Elizabeth I, England's Queen,
My fourth state got its name.
Since then, too, it has also been
A source of Presidential fame.
Washington and Jefferson came from this state.
The Jameses – Madison and Monroe – did too.
And 'twas in this state that I had a date
To meet someone whom I knew.
I'd known Neville in Africa at school
But thereafter hadn't seen him again
For quarter of a century – that's not cool –
Till we met in this state, and when
We renewed our bonds as friend and friend.
Older now but wiser, we also found
That to running our interests did extend,
Thus together along the Chessie Trail we bound.
In 1988 I went to see a South African high school friend, Neville
Richardson, who was then a visiting professor of theology at an
American university. This is a picture of NR-squared (i.e., of Nigel
left, and of Neville Richardson, right) on the lawns of the
university campus. Together with Neville, I went for my first run
4th US state on Thursday, 26 May 1988.
State number 5:
'CROSS GRASS AND SAND
When I was near twenty
Of fun I had plenty
Driving through Europe with Dave,
Gary and Bill: it was a rave!
Then when I was forty-four
I saw Bill and Gary some more
And with those two I went
To a Danish US-settlement.
From which we drove north to reach
Dave's house, that's near a shell beach,
And there – to get exercise after the drive –
I ran 'cross grass and sand in state number five.
Which state was that? I will allow
Just one more clue for you now.
No state has a bigger population
In the entire American nation.
On Tuesday, 31 May 1988, I ran for the first time in my 5th US state. Earlier
that day, I was photographed (see the bottom right-hand corner of
picture) taking a photograph of a Danish windmill. A Danish windmill in
Where on earth (or, rather, which state) can it be?
State number 6:
"DON'T CALIFORNICATE THIS PLACE!"
Amanda and Roger Marcus I first met
When they were in the Peace Corps,
And 'twas always a good bet
That I would see them some more.
Two years later they came to stay
In NZ, and after another nine
It was time for me to head their way
And see them in a state so fine
That the residents there do say,
"Don't Californicate this place!"
Keep our coast and mountains, they do pray,
A clean and pristine space.
'Twas there that Roger and I ran with ease
Along the banks of the river that flows
Through all the state's main cities
While from south to the north it goes.
"Which state is this?"
I hear you say.
"Is it a state of bliss
Between C and W, eh?"
On 12 December 1985, I reached the top of Mt Kilimanjaro together with
Roger Marcus (who is seen on the right
in this summit shot),
Sunday, 15 June 1997, I ran together with Roger in my 6th US state.
State number 7:
THE GREAT ONE
My running state seven acquires fame
From a mountain with the name
The Great One.
In area, too, the size of this state
Any of the others it doth out-rate.
The Great One.
To this large state in the north I went
To climb – 'twas opportunity heaven-sent –
The Great One.
For a first run in any state, this was by far my longest
Because, in preparing to climb, I was at my strongest.
The Great One.
I'm pleased to say both run and climb went like a treat:
Running at sea-level; climbing at twenty-thousand feet.
The Great One.
On the run I felt good all the time I did go,
And on the peak, I topped out in the snow.
Ah! Great One!
When I ran along the coastal trail next to this inlet (which is named after
someone closely associated with New Zealand — namely, Captain
on Wednesday, 18 June 1997, it was the 7th US state in which I'd run.
State number 8:
OH, SO IT'S A FRENCH NAME ...
The Green Mountain state
Was Nigel's number eight.
Because it was early winter when I first ran in my 8th state on Thursday,
3 December 1998, the mountains were brown rather than green ...
State number 9:
AN OLD HOME OF MINE
State number nine
Was an old home of mine;
'Tis the Buckeye state.
The run was great
And I'm feeling fine.
My first run in state number 9 was on Monday, 7 December 1998,
was round the western half of a pair of lakes known as Twin Lakes.
State number 10:
The Hoosier state was my number ten.
On the campus of the Fighting Irish
My run was so good that I wish
I could do it all over again ...
My first run in state number 10 was on Wednesday, 9 December 1998, and
was also round twin lakes (nicknamed "Mary" and "Joseph"),
which are on
the campus of a well-known Roman Catholic university.
State number 11:
I'm pleased to say state number eleven
Was the land of enchantment.
It was, of course, pure heaven –
What else could the phrase have meant?
From Jane's house I made my way
to the mighty Rio Grande
Late on the year's last day
Along hard roads and soft sand.
I ran for more than an hour
In the state of Nouveau …,
And after a nice hot shower
There are now only 39 to go!
The first run I had in state number 11 was on Thursday, 31 December 1998,
and — as I note in the above poem — left from Jane's house, which
typical of the architectural style of many of the buildings in this state.
State number 12:
LAND OF LINCOLN RUN
To hear this, you'll be agog,
But the saluki is a dog.
Whence it hails, you'll never guess.
It's from Egypt, no less!
Said saluki is the mascot --
It's neat, it's great, it's hot --
Of the varsity round whose lake
I ran twice this eve to make
The Land of Lincoln -- what joy, what fun --
The twelfth state in which I've run!
My first run in my 12th state was during the evening on Monday,
25 June 2001, and was round this lake, which is on
as its symbol.
State number 13:
RUNNING ON AN UNCONFUSING DATE
7/7/01 was the date –
No confusion there; that's great –
When I ran in state
Which is found between
IL and KS, if you know what I mean.
Wow, it was hot!
95F is a lot
Of scorching degrees
Even when measured in Cs.
Thirty-five to be precise –
Far too warm to be nice.
I ran five miles in Forest Park.
I was perspiring; it was no lark.
Who cares though? It's one more on my slate,
Because I've now run in the Show Me State.
I ran in my 13th state on Saturday, 7 July 2001, and used the
in this art museum — which is often known as
SLAM — for getting into my running clothes beforehand
washing and changing afterwards!
State number 14:
THE STATE OF MILK AND BEER
Well, I came here
To the state of milk and beer.
It's the fourteenth one
In which I have run.
Georgia O'Keefe was born in the state
In 1887 – that was the date.
Of her works there was a major show
So I came north from the state below.
It was a quick trip, just overnight,
But Georgia's art was a real delight.
So too was my lakeside running fix:
It just proves sport and culture do mix!
Georgia O'Keefe's art was on display in this new museum, which is on
the shores of the lake that I ran alongside when I ran in state number
on Friday, 20 July 2001.
State number 15:
STATE OF MY IGNORANCE
If ignorance is bliss
And 'tis folly to be wise,
Then you should listen to this.
It could cause some surprise.
I'd not known prior that the city where
I ran in State fifteen – no less –
Was its capital. For the fact I cannot hear
Your disdain, I'm grateful, I guess.
I did know, though, that the city is the home
Of country music and the Titans.
But of its capitol without a dome
I knew nought. My ignorance frightens
Even me, I am sad to say.
But I'm not down in the mouth.
Far from it, 'cause today – hooray! –
I went arunning in the South.
The "capitol without a dome" in the capital city of state number 15,
where I ran on Wednesday, 25 July 2001.
State number 16:
AVERAGING ONE STATE PER YEAR
To run in my sixteenth state
On the Metro I sallied forth
And from D.C. I headed north.
3 August '01 was the date.
I went to green and leafy College Park
Simply to run there, for you see
Sixteen's a major milestone for me:
'Twas back in '85 I began this lark.
My average is now one state a year
Sixteen is thus a cause for pleasure
But it is at the same time a measure
Of the task ahead of me, I fear.
For if I keep running at this rate
I'll finish my quest
And be able to rest
When I'm 91: oh what a fate!
I ran in my 16th state on Friday, 3 August 2001. It was one of the
13 colonies that signed the Declaration of Independence, and
thus chosen to portray it using this photograph of John Trumbull's
well-known painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
State number 17:
MILE HIGH RUN
The last time I ran
In a new state
Was August '01 in Marylan'
Now after a 16-month wait
I've added one more
US state to my score.
A long gap between flights
Was the chance I needed
To run up in the heights.
It was a call that I heeded.
So out of the airport I went
The opportunity was heaven-sent.
In a state with many beauty spots
I ran four times round
The airport's parking lots!
But it was outside and on the ground
So, yes, it does count. It's fair.
I was running in thin mountain air.
The run was one mile high.
It was also five miles long.
Snowy peaks pierced the sky,
So my running was not strong.
State seventeen is almost square.
Can you guess where?
I ran in my 17th US state on Monday, 2 December 2002 (but I didn't take this
it's part of a postcard I bought as a souvenir because it shows the
parking lots that I ran round).
State number 18:
The eighteenth state
In which I have run
Bids you tempt your fate:
Have a flutter, have some fun!
Ace of spades, ten of clubs,
Black jack, poker, and roulette.
I shunned them all, plus the pubs,
And on my run off I set.
Along the path and up the hills I ran.
In the east the plains were dusty;
Mountains to the west. All went to plan.
My legs felt good, they were not rusty.
John and Susan told me where to go.
Oh irony! Nought was left to chance
In the state with many a casino,
And 'cross its dry hills I did prance.
Can you tell where I have been?
Don't give up. Try harder.
After all the clues you've seen
Surely you know it is _ _ _ _ _ _ .
On Friday, 6 December 2002, I ran in my 18th state. My run was along part
the Tom Cooke Trail in the treeless foothills of the Snowy Range
use an English translation of the name of the mountains).
State number 19:
It was in the tar heel state
When on a spring morn I set out
For a run that was just great.
With blossoms and green leaves all about.
Although the state's colour is light blue,
The skies were dull and grey.
That mattered not. The state was new:
'Twas my nineteenth. Hooray! Hooray!
But I did not have tar heels –
No way! There was spring in the air
And in my steps. You know how it feels
When you run with speed and flair.
Dogwood, cherry, pine, and oak:
The lush verdant greenery was fine.
And the light drizzle did not soak
Me in state number nine plus ten.
Dogwood blossoms formed part of the scenery when
ran in my 19th state
on Wednesday, 9 April 2003.
State number 20:
Did you know that Civil War began
In the twentieth state in which I ran?
It was the shelling of Sumter's Fort
That started the war the North and South fought.
The shots were fired on 12 April 1861,
Exactly eighty-three years ere my life begun.
Linked by a key date,
Running here was my fate.
Twenty states: my goal is two-fifths done
And thus far it's been good fun.
However, there are still thirty states to go
So I cannot stop to rest, you know.
On Monday, 14 April 2003 (two days after I turned 59 and two days
after the 142nd anniversary of the start of the Civil War), the state
where the war began became the 20th US state in which I'd run.
State number 21:
ON MY MIND
When I was at Scott Base amidst the snow
There was a brief poem that I got to know:
Having run in a new state today, I find
The state, like that brief poem, is on my mind.
The states in which I've run
Now add up to twenty-one,
And my new total I did reach
In the state best known for peach.
The USSR, too, had a state with this name.
From the Soviet state came the leader we blame
For millions of deaths, tortures, and pains,
While the US state gave us Jimmy from Plains.
'Twas in Crooked River State Park
In late afternoon, but well ere dark,
That I ran through bushes, palm, and pine.
States left to run in? A mere twenty-nine!
(*: Ch'ch -- pronounced. "Cheechee" by some US personnel in
Antarctica -- is an abbreviation for Christchurch.)
On Wednesday evening, 16 April 2003, I ran along the Palmetto
and other trails
in a park in the 21st state in which I'd run.
State number 22:
'Twas just two minutes past seven
When the bright red orb of the sun
Rose in the eastern heaven.
How do I know? I was on my run
In state number twenty-two.
Days are hot here: 85.
So carefully I planned what to do:
Start running early to stay alive!
The sun soon turned from red to orange to yellow.
So too the air began to warm,
But I was fine and feeling mellow.
I was running well and true to form.
The state is famed for 'gators, Disney and space.
It was here too that Al Gore
Lost his presidential race,
Which led, I'm sure, to the current war.
But, unlike Al, I won my race.
I ran before it got too hot.
Although the sweat poured off my face
Did the heat beat me? It did not!
Two bridges too far? My run on Saturday, 19 April 2003, was in my 22nd state,
and the route I took included crossing both these bridges (going out
the left-hand bridge and returning to my motel via the right-hand one).
State number 23:
FEET NOT CARVED IN STONE
The 23rd US state in which I ran
Was one to which I'd gone
Not to see Presidents carved in stone,
But to study campaigns with Evan.
Even our run had a political theme,
Because Evan's T-shirt was way out of tune
With Republicans such as candidate John Thune;
"Run Against Bush" it said: a futile dream.
The state's bird is an intruder, a pheasant,
And though we didn't see one
During our riverside run
Along the Big Sioux, 'twas most pleasant.
Evan in his T-shirt with "a political theme" after our run
on Wednesday, 27 October 2004 — six
George Bush won his race (for re-election
as President of the United States).
State number 24:
THE UNICAM STATE
In the 24th state in which I ran in the US
What was the object, what was the lure?
Why I went there, you'll never guess.
It was a unicameral legislature.
'Tis the sole single-chamber state house
In all the US there's no other one.
For pol sci professors it's famous
And thus it demanded my attention.
So I went to the state especially to see
The capitol building with its tall tower.
The designers used marble and art aplenty,
And Evan and I viewed it for more than an hour.
But then the time came to go for a run,
So across the town and around the uni we went
In the late afternoon; 'twas good, 'twas fun
To run in the capital named for a President.
On Thursday, 28 October 2004, I ran in my 24th state —
the only state with a unicameral legislature.
State number 25:
There are fifty states in the USA,
So it's really good to be alive
And to have run in twenty-five,
Which means I'm exactly half way
Towards my goal, towards my quest
To run in every state.
Oh wouldn't it be great
To also run in all the rest.
The state where I reached half way
Is middle America through and through
Which strikes me, and I hope you too,
As apt and not something you'd gainsay.
Herbert Hoover, a Quaker, was born
In the 25th state in which I ran.
He was Pres when the Depression began
Which, sad to say, made many forlorn.
Bill Bryson came from its capital city.
Someone had to be born there, he said.
It's a line in his book that many have read
And thus scoffed at the state. 'Tis a pity
Because cows and corn are not that bad.
What is more, the undulating farms
Of the state have certain charms.
To have been there and run, I'm truly glad.
On Friday, 29 October 2004, I ran in my 25th state, and have
to illustrate it with a photograph of a ceramic tile
I inherited from my parents that depicts a scene from
State number 26:
NEITHER AWOI NOR IIAWAH
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Which states are the fairest of them all?
Of course the states that I’m a liking
Are those with mirror-writing.
And which states might those be?
Oh, you fool, it’s plain to see:
One is the state where you first did live;
And another’s symbol is the beehive –
‘Tis the twenty-sixth state in which you ran.
Oh, mirror, thank you, I began,
I see now as you do. I know
The first state I lived in was OIHO,
So another favoured state for you
Must, I see, be HATU
For today that is where I did run
To make my tally half the states plus one.
To beat the mid-summer heat in the 26th state in which I ran, I got up at
5:30 am on Wednesday, 12 July 2006, and ran round and round a nearby
high school's running track.
State number 27:
POTATO EGO (OR IS IT ID?)
Twenty-seven is a favourite number
Of mine, so I did not lumber
Along when I ran in this state.
No, my early morning run was great.
I ran up Highway 30 – the old wagon route
To Oregon and California to boot –
In this state whose agricultural fame
Is based on spuds, or so they claim.
Twenty-seven – the day in January my Dad
Was born; ‘twas also the number our house had
In PTN. Twenty-seven, too, was the age
That caused Tonia to think Heather was a sage.
So which was the twenty-seventh state
In which I ran? Well, as I said, fate
Decreed it is the home of the humble ‘tater.
Still don’t know? Well, I’ll tell you later.
On Thursday, 13 July 2006, I ran in my 27th state on an out-and-back route
along former wagon trails that had taken nineteenth century pioneers
Orgeon and California.
State number 28:
THIS STATE COMES LAST -- TWICE
Today’s run made it twenty-eight
States in which I’ve run, which is great.
But though this state is very nice
It also happens to come last – twice!
The United States number ten plus two score
But alphabetically after this one there are no more.
And of all the states its population is the least.
Its scenery, however, is a visual feast.
The state is popular with tourists all year round.
In the winter they can be found
On snow mobiles and skiing all a shiver,
While in the summer they’re rafting on Snake River.
So have you worked out which state
I ran in today? If not then contemplate
The fact that Dick Cheney is from here:
He whom George Bush holds so dear.
On Friday, 14 July 2006, I ran in my 28th state. It may have the smallest
of any state in the Union, but it also has one of the USA's
more distinctive state flags.
State number 29:
BIG SKY HIGH
My run in state number nine-plus-twenty
Was in an area with altitude aplenty.
Running above seven-and-a-half thousand feet did usher
In a new height record, beating seven-thousand in Russia.
Myron Tripp, my Tas Uni POLS lecturer,
Served in the House in this state’s legislature
Hundreds of times he told us about it –
A lonely Dem in a mainly Republican outfit!
Many a top-selling New Zealand wine
That come from Blenheim and taste just fine
Have the same name as this state.
Why, and where I ran, are two mysteries to contemplate.
If you think more clues are still in line
To help you work out my state number 29
Then here’s the last one for you to try:
Just think of the phrase, "Big Sky".
On Sunday, 23 July 2006, during a short rest between two climbing trips,
I ran in state number 29. The base for my rest and for my run was this
small town, which is 7,600 feet / 2,316 metres above sea level.
State number 30:
On my run in state number thirty
I got all muddy and dirty
Because I ran in light rain in a large central park
Where tourists are warned not to go after dark.
The run was at a well-paced velocity
In the most famous park in a city
That shares the same name as its state.
Both have slogans, though, that aren't great.
Why the state likes the name Empire
Is hard to imagine. It's really dire
In a country that broke with the crown
In 1776, when the empire went down.
And why's the city called the Big Apple?
It's a slogan that really does baffle.
In a metropolis with eight million folk
Space for orchards aint really bespoke.
Despite these oddities I must say
Running in my thirtieth state today
Was really good – it's a true landmark:
Now there are only 20 to do ere I kark!
On Friday, 20 October 2006, I ran in my 30th state. The clues in the above
for identifying the state are so easy that I have deliberately
the name of the city that was on this notice!
State number 31:
RUN FREE OR DIE
Live free or die
Is the passionate cry
Of state thirty-one
In which I did run.
The state's nickname
Has also garnered fame.
Its slogan is great:
It's the Granite State.
Near a mountain and lake
My journey I did break
So I could run free
In a place called Sunapee.
So thirty-one states is now my score
And Evan's is neither less nor more.
There are thus nineteen left to go.
Who will win this race? I don't know.
On Friday, 27 October 2008, I ran in my 31st state. My running route
took me past this road sign, but I didn't see a moose ...
State number 32:
The thirty-second state in which I ran
As a Quaker colony originally began.
Indeed, around Haverford College I did run –
A university that was by Quakers begun.
In this state the Independence Declaration
Was signed in 1776; and thus a new nation
Came into being on the fourth of July.
Poor George the Third could only cry!
Here, too, the US Constitution later was written
Welding thirteen states together: the bullet was bitten.
After these events the US grew and grew
To be a major world power matched by few.
But if only the US had stayed small,
Then my attempt to run in all
Its states would have been a breeze:
Something I could've done with ease.
Instead, though, after a tally of thirty-two
There are still eighteen states left to do.
It's a really tough challenge for me:
I wonder where the next one will be?
Although this man is invariably associated with the 32nd state in which
(on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 — i.e., Halloween), he wasn't born in
this state, but was born
in the second American state I ran in.
State number 33:
In the early morning I was keen
To run in the state that's evergreen
For that's its nickname, as you may have heard,
And in my running tally, it's now thirty-third,
Which means I'm two-thirds the way to the full fifty!
Running along the Burke-Gilman Trail was nifty.
'Tis an old rail line that skirts a lake
That the same name as its state did take.
"I hope it'll stay dry," I was a pray'n'
For state 33 is renowned for its rain.
And from their position high above the Cascade Range
The weather gods smiled on me: it stayed dry for a change.
In the early morn, a raccoon I did see --
It scuttled across the trail in front of me.
Thus close to nature I did feel:
'Twas quite poetic (unlike this spiel!).
I've run in eight new states this year
But there'll be a pause now I do fear,
And when I'll start the last seventeen
Is not known, for the future's quite unseen …
On Thursday, 7 December 2006, when I ran along the Burke-Gilman trail
for the first time, the state in which the trail is located became the 33rd
US state in which I have run.
State number 34:
Four years is a long time, perforce
But I’ve now added a new state –
My thirty-fourth to date –
To those in which I’ve run my course.
Along Painted Church Road in the morn I ran
With two others, friend Ron and son Evan,
Above the bay where Captain Cook
Was killed on the third trip he took
In sailing ships around the world
And on new lands his flag unfurled.
To join the union this state was last.
It’s also far removed from every other one.
The state where Cook's life was undone
Lies many miles across an ocean vast.
And here’s a final clue if you’re still forlorn:
It was in this state that Obama was born.
On Sunday, 9 January 2011, my first run in the 34th state in which I've run
went along Painted Church Road, so named because of this small
wooden church's colourful and unusual interior.
State number 35:
The highpoint of my 35th state
Is known as Humphreys Peak
And on July 10 – that was the date –
Eric and I did climb it: magnifique!
The next day, early on a morning fine,
I began my run in Humphreys Street.
Another Humphreys: that was a good sign
For pounding the sidewalks and trails with my feet.
And so I added one more state
To the tally of those in which I’ve run.
Only fifteen states left; oh that’s great --
My quest is now seventy percent done!
I began running in my 35th state by heading up Humphreys
Street on Wednesday morning, 11 July 2012 — the day after
Eric Hodge and I climbed the state's highest mountain,
State number 36:
Prairies and pioneers dominate
Tales about the 36th state
I ran in. There are also vibes
About its Native American tribes.
‘But’, you say, ‘that’s far from rare,
‘This poem could be about almost anywhere.’
That’s right, I do concede. Too true,
So let me give you another clue.
In the US, many cities and towns
Take the names of English crowns.
It’s also not a fluke – it’s not by chance –
That many US place names come from France.
But the capital city of my 36th state
Shares its name by a twist of fate
With a German leader (no, not a song!)
Which is unique (unless I’m really wrong).
When I ran in my 36th state on Monday morning, 5 August 2013, my route
took me round and through the grounds of the state's capitol building,
parts of which are seen in this photograph looking down
on them from
capitol building's 18th-floor observation deck.
State number 37
TEENY-WEENY, SHORT AND SWEET
Years ago I ran in the smallest state
In terms of population.
Now I’ve run in the smallest state
In area in the nation.
My number thirty-seven in terms of size
Is frankly teeny-weeny: it’s very small,
But you will know, if you are very wise,
It’s full name is the longest of them all.
This poem, too, is pretty short
Cause its name you’ll know (well, you ought).
Parts of my run in my 37th state on Thursday morning, 22 August 2013,
were along this path in a park called Blackstone Boulevard, which is
on the USA's National Register of Historic Places.
State number 38
THE SILENT ‘C’
The thirty-eighth state in which I’ve run
Is beside the self-described ‘Ocean State’.
But this one, by contrast, on every licence plate
Proclaims its ‘Constitution’ proudly with élan.
Please note, though, that when you see
The state’s name, do take care
Saying it, ‘cause listeners must not hear –
A most unusual thing you’ll agree – its silent ‘c’.
There is, of course, a silent ‘k’ in knot and knee,
While psycho has a silent ‘p’, no less
But I cannot think, I do confess,
Of another word that has a quiet ‘c’.
So the challenge for you, I have to say,
Is to name the state in which I ran today.
On Friday morning, 23 August 2013, I ran in my 38th state by running — at
own risk! — four times round Bushnell Park, which is the oldest
publicly-funded park in the United States.
State number 39
A LONE STAR?
Running in my 39th state
Was no accident of fate.
I chose it to plug a gap
In my jigsaw puzzle map.
Because my 39th state
In sheer size does rate
Number two in the nation
In area, and in population.
I ran by myself – a lone star? –
For about 9k – not too far –
On city streets and by Lady Bird Lake.
‘Twas hot; ‘twas not a piece of cake.
Having done it, though, I’m thrilled
A large hole has been filled
In the map that charts my quest,
But until it ends, I cannot rest!
Part of my run in my 40th state — which was on Tuesday afternoon,
22 April 2014 — was on the path (in the top left-hand corner of this
photograph) alongside Lady Bird Lake.
State number 40
THE NAME OF A SHOW
I’m not being haughty,
But I am very proud
To say it out loud:
Today I reached forty
States that I’ve run in so far.
My big Four-O was, you know,
In a state with the name of a show
By Rodgers and Hammerstein: tra-la!
The state’s known for men who were sporty:
Mantle and Thorpe both came from here
And went on to win for many a year.
I think they’d have liked my reaching forty!
On Thursday, 24 April 2014, my running route in the 40th state in which I've
run included Mickey Mantle Street and also went past this statue of the
famous baseball player.
State number 41
NINE DREW THE LINE
State number forty-one
In which I’ve run
I first heard of when I was just thirteen,
When its racial crisis worldwide was seen.
Its Governor did something that was not fine
He tried to stop students, there were nine,
From enrolling in a central city school
‘Cause they were black. That’s just not cool.
So the US President that many called Ike
Sent in the troops, which the Gov did not like,
But in the end he had to concede,
And from segregation the school was freed.
On Monday morning, 28 April 2014, while running in my 41st state, I went
past this statue of nine high school students.
State number 42
KEY TO UNDERSTANDING?
For insight, forty-two is said to be –
For understanding the universe – the key,
But now I’ve run in state forty-two
I’m not really sure that it’s true.
For how on earth – or in the universe –
What could possibly be worse
Than electing not one, but two
Wallaces to govern? I ask you.
Alphabetically the state comes first
But in other ways it’s last or worst.
‘How can this be?’ I thought on my run.
My answers? Well, I have none!
On Thursday morning, 1 May 2014, I ran in my 42nd state, where both
these people — a husband and wife — had (at different times) been
Governors of the state.
State number 43
RIVER OF FAME
State forty-three was famous for burning.
Today too it was hot, so my yearning
To run in this state
Meant I couldn’t start late.
Up at 5:30 and away before dawn,
I had a cool run in the early morn
Alongside a massive river that flows
Through ten states as it goes
From north Minnesota to the sea.
Note too that my state forty-three
Even shares its very name
With this mighty river of fame.
This large river flows through or past a total of ten states. My run on
Sunday morning, 4 May 2014, along the river bank that's in the
and on the right in this photograph was
my first (and, to
only) run in my 43rd state.
State number 44
ON A LEVEE – BUT WITHOUT A CHEVY
Forty-four: that’s the number
Of US Presidents to date,
And I’ve also run – not lumber –
In that many a US state.
My run today was early in the morn
On a levee beside the Mississippi.
I felt good – definitely not forlorn –
As I increased my states’ tally. Yippee!
The state in which I ran was named –
Would you believe it? – for a French king.
And for pelicans ‘tis also famed,
As well as for its Cajun ring.
For just over an hour on Wednesday morning, 7 May 2014, I ran along
levee. Doing so increased the tally of the states in which I've run to 44.
State number 45
COURSES AND HORSES
I've now run in forty-five states,
And, humbly, I think that rates
This poem as a worthy comment
'Cause my tally's now ninety percent.
And in which state did I run?
Well, 'tis famous for its bourbon
Plus many a racing horse
Where? You'll know now, of course.
I ran in a riverside park
In the morn when it was not dark.
Both the river and the state's name
Are – yes, you've guessed – the same.
On Tuesday morning, 3 November 2015, I went for a 62-minute run
in this park in the capital city of the 45th state in which I ran.
State number 46
NO TANIWHA IN THE KANAWHA
I know, of course, about the taniwha:
They're a Maori mythical beast.
But I must admit that of the Kanawha
I knew even less than least.
But I know now that it's a river,
For alongside it I ran today
And for that I must give a
Cheer: it's my forty-sixth state. Hooray!
My riverside running route took me past
The Cass Gilbert-designed capitol.
You should know I did not run fast –
And nor did I run in St Paul.
Late on Wednesday afternoon, 4 November 2015, I ran alongside
— the Kanawha — for 65 minutes. Just visible in the top right-hand corner
of the picture is the dome of the state's capitol building. The architect
Gilbert, who also designed the Minnesota state capitol.
run took the tally of the US states in which I'd run up to 46.
State number 47
I DID NOT SEE TOTO OR DOROTHY
While running in my 47th state
I must confess I did not see
Toto the dog or Dorothy.
That’s because, of course, their fate
Was not to be here anymore.
But from this state they came,
As did Eisenhower or Ike.
He was a president voters did like
And a general too of five-star fame –
A practitioner of the arts of politics and war.
For almost sixty-eight minutes I ran
Three times round a big block that’s home
To a school and college with sports teams known
As Eagles and Trojans to many a one-eyed fan.
My sport's running: to reach 50 states I've just three more.
On Sunday morning, 25 September 2016, I went for a run in my 47th state.
I ran three times round a large block that housed a school and a college
with sports teams respectively called the Eagles and the Trojans.
State number 48
HIGH POINT RUN
On Halloween I ran in my 48th state,
And yet it was also, in one crucial way,
Unique, for I ran up its highpoint today
And as something special that’ll always rate.
Which state was it? You may well ask.
Well, its highpoint has the most boring name:
It’s simply called “High Point”. How very lame!
Come on. Now work it out. That’s your task.
On top of the state’s highpoint you will find
There’s a monument like the one in DC
To George Washington. Now you’ll surely see
Which state I ran in, ‘cause you’re not blind.
On Monday morning, 31 October 2016, I ran round this lake and up to and
around the George Washington-like monument that stands atop High Point,
the lamely named highpoint of the 48th state of the USA in which I've run.
State number 49
ALMOST LAST BUT FIRST
The 49th state in which I’ve run
Is thus the last but one
I had to visit on my quest
To run in all states north, south, east, and west.
But the state in which I ran today
Really was the first in one crucial way:
It joined the US before any other,
So guessing where I ran should cause no bother.
On Wednesday morning, 2 November 2016, I went for a 62-minute run
in the capital city of the 49th state in which I ran. It was thus my second-
last state, but — as the state's licence plates proudly proclaim — it is
really THE FIRST STATE, because on 7 December 1787 it was the first
state to ratify the US Constitution.
State number 50
FIFTY BUT NOT SWIFTLY
The 50th state in which I ran
Is known politically for a man
Called Ford, who made it to the top
When Nixon's presidency came to a stop.
In Ford's hometown there's a River Grand.
It's wide with rapids and is far from bland.
So for more than an hour along its banks
I ran and thus I joined the ranks
Of those – doubtless many – who have run
In all fifty states. Doing so I've had fun
Running in many different places,
Seeing lots of sights, structures, and faces.
Thirty-two long years have passed
From my first state run to my last.
My quest – for that is what it became –
Is ended. And as for these poems? The same!
On Tuesday evening, 22 August 2017, I went for a 66-minute run along the
banks of this river in what (according to the 2010 United States census) is
the second biggest city in the 50th state in which I ran.
This page was last revised on 20 December 2017.