Club Rules and Guidelines for Marathons

Date of latest update: 05/02/16

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Rules:  The following rules have been adopted by the Board of Directors of the 50 State Marathon Club for the sole purpose of providing all members a defined, practical guideline for the events/races that will count towards the member's goal of completion of the marathon distance (or longer) in each of the 50 states.   While the Club does recognize many other marathon accomplishments by members, including century milestones, Canadian provinces, countries, etc., the following rules are specific to the 50 events/races members will use to account for completion of marathon distance (or longer) in each state. These rules will take effect on 1/1/2013; events prior to 1/1/2013 will be considered using the old rules.

1. A marathon must be the full distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km) and an ultra is defined as any distance greater than the marathon distance.  For a non-certified course to count, the race organization must make a good faith effort to ensure that the course is at least the marathon distance.  The event must be announced as a marathon or ultra.   The participant must traverse the entire race course as defined by the organizers.

2. The event shall have an announced race director, race organization and/or running club to supervise and take responsibility for the event, and be available to certify the runner's completion of the distance. It must have had a minimum of 60 days advanced publicity in a running publication, magazine, newspaper, web site or race brochure.  Verifiable results must be maintained and/or posted to the general public.  Someone who is not running in the event must be available to time it.

3. The event shall have a minimum of 10 finishers.  If an ultra and a marathon are being held simultaneously, the combined number of runners may meet this rule.

4. A marathon shall be run without interruption except for natural events such as a thunderstorm.  A run temporarily interrupted by a natural event can be counted if at least 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km) has been completed, and is allowed by the race director.

5. A stage or multi-day event will only count as one event unless a participant can register for single stages of the event and at least one day’s stage must include the distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km) or further.

6. Completion of at least a 26 mile 385 yard (42.195 km) portion of an ultra may be counted as a marathon, if the race director so designates.   Similarly, if permitted by the race director, completion of a minimum distance greater than a marathon in any ultra event may be considered as an ultra.  However, if the race director and race rules do not accept those shorter distances as an event, then it cannot be counted. 

7. Each member shall retain some information to substantiate each event, such as: a finisher's certificate, published event results (, result card, result book, newspaper, etc.), race bib number
AND medal (both required for this option).  The bib and medal option will only be accepted for events for which no published results are available, and are not acceptable under any circumstances for certain events.  Please see the examples section, #13. Members may use the bib and medal option for up to two events which occurred during or after the year 2000. 

8. The event must either start or finish in the state being counted. A marathon that has a route that runs into two states cannot be counted as two states; it counts as one.

9. Guides, ultra distance “handlers”, pacers, and bandits may not count the event if they did not have assigned bib numbers and verifiable finishing results.  One must be a registered participant for the event to count.

10. “Shadow”, “satellite”, or "virtual" events will not be accepted.   These are events which are held in conjunction with a regular, organized marathon event, but in a separate location. The race must physically occur in the state for which it is being counted.

11. The finisher award will be provided at no additional cost to all finishers who have been club members who are caught up on all dues and have been club members for more than two years prior to their finish date.   The finisher award may be purchased for $50 for all finishers who are caught up on all dues and have been club members for more than one year but less than two years prior to their finish date.  Finishers who do not meet either of these requirements may elect to purchase the award for $100.  Please contact for information on purchasing an award.     


1. Both marathons and ultras are counted towards completion of the states. The marathon portion of a full triathlon or Ironman event may be counted as a marathon. 

2. If a member is allowed to start a race early, it is the responsibility of the member to ensure that the race committee corrects that member's time accordingly.  If a race does not allow an early start, the participant taking an unofficial early start (not permitted or recognized by the race director) may be disqualified by the race director and the race cannot be counted towards completion of the states. An official timer must be present to record the early starters

3. Completion of the circuit will be accomplished when a member has completed a marathon or ultra in each of the 50 states of the 
USA (DC is not required).  A verification committee will decide if a finisher has completed the circuit of the 50 states and a complimentary trophy will be ordered and presented to the member.  It is recommended that you notify the club ahead of time so that your upcoming finish can be listed on the club schedule page and other finishing information can be provided to you.

4. When a member has completed the 50 US states he/she needs to email or mail a list of the marathon/ultra completed in each state including: the name of the race, the location of the race, the date completed, and the finishing time to:

Verification Committee
50 States Marathon Club
PO Box 22517
Santa Fe, NM 87502 (Beth Davenport, Verification) (Paula Boone, Membership)
5. Hard copy documentation of the completion of each state must be sent to the Verification Committee before a finish will be “
certified”.  Please retain records as stated in rule (7) above from each of the races and upon completion of the states, submit a copy of at least one item of proof for each of the 50 states. Please read the rules carefully and submit any questions you may have to the Verification committee.  If there is a disagreement within the committee, please notify the Board of Directors to help resolve any issues. Certification is not required.  

6. There is no time limit for completion of the circuit.

Will My Run Count?

Below is a short checklist of questions to ask yourself about events which you have run.   If you can answer ‘yes’ to each question, then there is an excellent chance that an event you ran will count towards your 50 state goal.  If, after completing this checklist, you still have questions, please contact Beth Davenport,

1- Was the race announced and run as a marathon of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km) or an ultra if it is further?

2- Did the race have a director, organization and/or running club taking responsibility for the event?

3- Was there at least 60 days advanced publicity of the event in a recognized running web site or publication?

4- Are the results posted to the public?

5- Were there at least 10 finishers?

6- Was the event completed without interruption?

7- Did the member retain some information to substantiate completion of the event (i.e. results)?

8- Did the event start or finish in the state being counted?

9- Was the member a registered participant of the event being counted?


1. The Marine Corps Marathon counts as Virginia because it starts and ends in Virginia.  Additionally, the National Marathon, Washington DC Marathon, Adebe Bikela, and Potomac River Run which begin and end inside DC do not count towards the state count because the District of Columbia is not a state. 

2. If a race starts in one state, crosses into another state, and returns to the original state, it may only be counted for the state where the race started and ended. (Example: The Flying Pig Marathon begins in OH, crosses into KY, and finishes in OH.  It may only be counted for OH.)

3. If a race starts in one state and ends in another, it may be counted once for either the state where it started or where it ended.  If the same event is run on a subsequent year, the race may be counted for the other state.  (Example: The Hatfield McCoy Marathon begins in KY and ends in WV and may be counted for either state. Fargo 2014 began in MN and ended in ND.)

4. The Tahoe Triple, which is held over three days, can be counted as three races because participants may sign up for any one of the three races.

5. The Marathon de Sables, which is a multi-day stage race, counts as one event because participants are not allowed to run single day stages.

6. Running a 10K race four times plus 2.125K does not qualify as a marathon event, neither does running a half-marathon twice.

7. Running at least 50 miles of the Umstead 100 counts as an event because the race allows participants to count a 50 mile finish once they complete at least 50 miles and less than 100. 

8. Timed events (8 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour, 48 hour, etc.) can be counted as one race as long as the individual covers at least 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km), there are lap counters, and verifiable results are maintained and/or posted to the general public. Additionally, any event can only count as one event.   A runner may not pay multiple times, run multiple marathon distances and count the event more than once.

9. The Hood to Coast Relay cannot be counted because the race is not run without interruption.

10. “Relay for Life”, "Fat Ass" and “Big Butt” events where there is no race director, race organization, or running club to supervise and take responsibility for the event can not be counted because verifiable results are not maintained and/or posted to the general public.  Occasionally there are marathons and ultras that are run in national and state parks.  Sometimes the park ranger (or person in charge) will not permit foot races in their park.  Thus, the race director will announce on his website that the event is not a race in order to stay within the park rules.  This type of race is acceptable towards a state count as long as there are verifiable results maintained and there is a race director or organization in charge.

11. If an event is cancelled prior to the start, it will not count.  (Example: Myrtle Beach 2010, Southern Indiana Classic 2011, Death Valley Trail 2011, NYC 2012, Run with the Devil 2013, Crazy Horse 2013, St. Jude Memphis 2013, Dallas 2013, GW Birthday 2014, Minneapolis 2014, Boulder 2014, Sedona 2015, Hyannis 2015, Cowtown 2015, GW Birthday 2015 date changed, Jim's Goose Chase 2015, Frankenthon 2015, Clearwater 2016, Race the Lake 2016, MS Blues 2017, Irving 2017, Big D 2017,Golden Driller 2017, Vancouver USA 2017, Adirondack 2017, Appalachian Series GA, AL and FL 2018, Cotton Land 2018, MLK Race for the Dreams 2019) 

12. If an event is cancelled mid-race, it will only count if the participant reached the finish line prior to the cancellation. Results from the official race site are the only acceptable items of proof for an event cancelled mid-race. (Example: Chicago 2007, Green Bay 2012,  Boston 2013, 26.2 with Donna 2014, Army 2014, Little Rock 2014, Illinois 2015, Savannah RnR 2015, Vermont City 2016, Blue Ridge 2017, USAF 2018 - must have official race results with all of the splits, Fox Valley 2018. Mo' Cowbell 2018 - must have official race results with all of the splits )

13. The bib and medal option for verification will not be accepted for any cancelled event, any event having a virtual or shadow option, or for the Bataan Memorial Death March.  The Bataan Memorial Death March issues participant medals prior to the event; this is NOT a finisher’s medal.  The only accepted items of proof are the results for the Bataan Memorial Death March from the race site or Results from the official race site are the only acceptable items of proof for an event cancelled mid-race.

14. A reasonable interruption of a race is determined by the race organization. If the race organization decides to suspend the race for a short time because of safety issues and then allows runners to continue, then the race may count. On their own, a member may not start a race, leave the course for an amount of time and then return to the race to continue it.

15. If races offer the option of being bused forward in a race and then continuing on to the finish, a runner cannot count the race if they rode the bus and did not complete the entire course. Marine Corps Marathon has a “Beat the Bridge” straggler bus.  Seneca Greenway Trail Marathon 2012 also bused people who were over the cut off time and then allowed them to continue to the finish. Rock 'n' Roll (Competitor)  events have instituted a "sag wagon" shuttle policy where participants may board the sag wagon and be shuttled forward on the course where they may continue to participate in the event. Even if the race allows/encourages/promotes this, a runner cannot count the race because they did not complete the entire 26.2 miles required. We recommend printing out a copy of your split times for these events so that the certification committee can verify that a runner has completed the entire course.

A marathon must be the full distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km) and an ultra is defined as any distance greater than the marathon distance. Races that fall short of the distance may not be counted. Big Wildlife Runs Marathon 2015 was 25.2 miles. The 2015 ultra was greater than 26.2 miles and may be used. Chattanooga Marathon 2016 was .28 miles short. Vancouver USA 2016 was 26.1 miles long. Timberline in OR is 26.09 miles. Old Military Road Trail Marathon in OK is 23 miles. Breck Crest (Breckenridge Crest) Marathon is 23 miles. The Woodlands 2017 was .
8 miles short. Milwaukee 2017 was 4,200 feet short. Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon 2017 was .295 miles short. The Barkley Fall Classic "drop-down marathon" is 22.8 miles and cannot count (the 50K can count as long as it is completed).

These are the rules of our organization and are subject to change by the Board of Directors. 

Dean Karnazes Endurance Runs Decision - 2006

In response to many inquiries from our members, the Board of Directors met to discuss the issue of whether each marathon distance in the Endurance Runs counts towards completion of the states.  The unanimous decision follows:

The Board of Directors of the 50 States Marathon Club applauds Dean Karnazes and others for their fundraising efforts through running marathon distances for 50 consecutive days.   On 8/7/06, we reviewed the plan for these Runs, consisting of 50 marathon distances in 50 states on 50 consecutive days.

According to the 50 States Marathon Club rules, a marathon distance must be sanctioned to be run on the actual date of the marathon.  The following states involved in the Endurance Run have traditional marathon standards and are acceptable to the Board: Lewis & Clark (September 17), Boulder Backroads (September 24), Portland, Oregon (October 1), St. George (October 7), Greater Hartford (October 14), Chicago (October 22), and New York City (November 5).  Other marathon distances will not be considered for completion of the remaining states. 

This ruling will allow us to maintain consistent Club standards.  As always, we welcome your questions and comments. 

Copyright 2001   50 States Marathon Club   
All rights reserved.