INDIANAPOLIS — The annual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is May 7, and every person who takes part has a story.
Colorado native Sean Grady is on the verge of completing a seven-year goal of racing in half-marathons in every state in the country.
"That's what piqued my curiosity — staying fit and just the joy of exploration of this country," Grady said.
The 54-year-old Euless, Texas, software consultant has always been an athlete. He played football at Abilene Christian University from 1987-1990. He has competed in Ironman Triathlons. A 2017 race in Hawaii became his 10th half-marathon. That is when Grady learned about a 50-state half-marathon club.
He set off on a goal to race half-marathons in all 50 states.
At first, Grady would enter races where he could see friends. Grady called it a "race-cation".
"Once I finished Hawaii, I purposely scheduled all race-cations. I would just pick states and choose a race, travel there and race and then enjoy what that state had to offer," Grady said.
Grady enjoys talking about many of his favorite half-marathons.
"I loved (Arches Half Marathon) in Moab, Utah. They closed the road, and it was just you and fellow competitors," Grady said. "I loved Crazy House, South Dakota to see that iconic sculpture. But then there's the Flying Pig (Cincinnati, Ohio) because the whole city comes out. It's a big, big race. Pittsburgh really embraces the Pittsburgh Half. So, I enjoyed getting to run all the bridges and around the downtown area."
Grady had so many states to check off the list, he would double up on weekends.
"In 2019, I did 21 states that year, so it was a really aggressive year for me," Grady said. "I did six back-to-back. So, I planned a weekend where the states were close enough together where I could do a half-marathon on Saturday and pack up and get to the next place and do a half-marathon on Sunday."
Grady has done half-marathons in all kinds of weather.
"The coldest was the Polar Dash in Minnesota on New Year's Day. It was -31," Grady said. "My friends took a picture of me, and I had taken off my glove. I had to run the whole race without a glove on. So, I had it tucked into my jacket."
Grady's personal record in a half-marathon was 1:30:59 at "The Half" in Dallas, Texas, in 2005.
"Right now, I think I'll be happy with maybe mid-1:40s," Grady said. "My training is going OK. I'm a little bit behind where I normally am. But that's where I'm hoping for — 1:45."
When he completes the 500 Festival One America Mini-Marathon, Grady will join an exclusive club of running half-marathons in every state plus Washington, D.C. Indy will be Grady's 87th half-marathon and 215th road race.
"The Indy Mini has been on my schedule for two years. It didn't happen in 2020 or 2021, so I'm really looking forward to getting to Indianapolis. The race director was kind enough to give me bib #50. So, it'll be a surreal moment. It'll be my 50th state. I'll soak it all in around the track and everything," Grady said.
Grady will have a cheering section waiting for him at the finish line in downtown Indianapolis.
"I have some friends and family — quite a few people — that are going to be there. Even some of the club members are really great, saying they're coming to cheer me on. So, I think that part will be amazing," Grady said.