EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 8, 2012

Halfway there

Andover woman is running 50 marathons in 50 states

By Bill Burt
bburt@eagletribune.com

---- — Elizabeth Trask won’t ever be confused with an elite runner, finishing her last marathon in her typical 5 1/2 hours.

But the recent Massachusetts School of Law grad is attempting to win a different race, one which she is far from finishing.

Trask, whose friends call her “Liz,” completed her 25th marathon in four years in late October — the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

She’s halfway toward her goal of 50 marathons in 50 states.

“The toughest part is organizing and figuring out the details,” said the 26-year-old Andover resident.

What led her on this long journey?

Her love for her father, Bill Trask, who passed away when she was 19.

“We were best friends,” said Trask. “I did a lot of traveling with my dad while growing up (in Portland, Maine). We would come down to Boston for Red Sox and Bruins games. I had so much fun with my dad. We had planned other trips, too.”

At 51, her dad died unexpectedly after a heart attack.

“I was in a fog for a while after he died,” recalled Trask. “It was really hard.”

It was at a support group in her native Portland, with other people that had lost a loved one, that became a turning point for Trask. At one meeting, a 3-year-old girl, who had lost her father, was sitting next to her.

“I see this little boy and one of his parents is gone and he’s only three,” said Trask. “It was a turning point for me. I was still very sad he was gone and at times I still am. But it got me thinking about how grateful I was to have had 20 years with my dad.”

So in 2008 Trask decided she wanted to do something in her memory of her dad. She decided to run the Mount Desert Marathon in Southwest Harbor, Maine. This particular race was special because the house her dad grew up in was at the 26th mile mark of the race.

“My dad didn’t run any marathons, however he was a cross-country runner at Nasson College in Springvale, Maine and my mother ran races in the Portland area,” said Trask. “They inspired me to begin running cross country and track during middle school, high school, and college.”

That marathon inspired her to run another, this one in Chicago a year later. She met a few people who were running 50 marathons in 50 states for charity. She was “all in.”

There was one problem. She was in the first year of a three-year law school program in Andover.

“This is the incredible part of the story,” said Trask. “I went to my professors and told them what I wanted to do. And they all gave me their support. It meant giving me more time for papers and exams. I could not have done this without Mass School of Law’s help.”

There’s a map at school and push pins denoting the marathons she has run.

In three years since the Chicago Marathon, Trask has amazingly completed 23 marathons, all in her father’s memory, starting a Website and foundation (50forbilly.com). She has raised about $850 so far. All money she raises will go toward the support group that helped her in Portland.

“I don’t touch the money raised. Everything I need to run these marathons I pay for myself,” said Trask. “That’s the tough part. Sometimes I have to drive to a race when it would be easier to fly. But I’m not there yet.”

Trask is in the midst of applying for work as a lawyer, taking the state exam in Massachusetts and Connecticut, with plans to take the exam in her native Maine, too.

As for her trek around the country, Trask says meeting different runners has made this a learning experience.

“I have met several runners from other countries and states,” said Trask. “Many of them are some of my best friends.”

After she has completed the 50th marathon, she plans to add one more marathon for good measure, sort of the cherry on top of her incredible journey.

She plans to run the Mount Desert Marathon in Maine, her first marathon, again.

“He died at 51 and that would be my 51st marathon,” said Trask. “That marathon holds a special place in my heart. That will be an emotional race.”

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Waiting for a list of all 25 marathons