2006.06.26: June 26, 2006: Headlines: COS - Micronesia: Sports: Running: Marathons: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Micronesia RPCV Jane Lanford is a maniac for marathons

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Micronesia: Peace Corps Micronesia : The Peace Corps in Micronesia: 2006.06.26: June 26, 2006: Headlines: COS - Micronesia: Sports: Running: Marathons: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Micronesia RPCV Jane Lanford is a maniac for marathons

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Micronesia RPCV Jane Lanford is a maniac for marathons

Micronesia RPCV Jane Lanford is a maniac for marathons

Lanford has experienced all the marathons Alaska has to offer, from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Cordova to Kodiak to Dillingham to Juneau, and a few places in between. She has also made the marathon rounds in the Yukon Territory, finishing the Mayo Midnight Marathon last weekend and the Yukon River Trail Marathon in Whitehorse last year.

Micronesia RPCV Jane Lanford is a maniac for marathons

Lanford a maniac for marathons

By TIM MOWRY, Staff Writer

Rather than make it a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states, as some hard-core distance runners do, Jane Lanford set out to run every marathon in one state.

Whether or not Lanford is the only runner to complete every marathon in Alaska--all nine of them--nobody knows because nobody keeps track of such things. That's fine by her.

"I'm not going out to win them, I'm going out to experience them," said Lanford, a 51-year-old Certified Public Accountant from Fairbanks who moonlights as one of Alaska's most prominent and prolific women's distance runners.

Just call her the Farthest North Marathon Maniac.

Lanford has experienced all the marathons Alaska has to offer, from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Cordova to Kodiak to Dillingham to Juneau, and a few places in between. She has also made the marathon rounds in the Yukon Territory, finishing the Mayo Midnight Marathon last weekend and the Yukon River Trail Marathon in Whitehorse last year.

Where she will go next?

"I've thought about doing everything above the 66th parallel," Lanford said, "but that would mean going to Northwest Territories, Iceland and who knows where else."

She began her quest to complete each marathon in Alaska in 2000. She had already completed the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks six times and the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage twice and figured it wouldn't be that hard to knock off the state's seven remaining 26.2-mile races.

"I couldn't afford to take the time and money to go to all 50 states," Lanford said. "I wanted something more doable."

In Alaska, she has used frequent flier miles to get to the marathons she couldn't drive to, such as Kodiak, Juneau, Prince of Wales Island and Dillingham.

"Most of these marathons in Alaska and Yukon are little marathons that are big community events," she said. "It's fun to do them and see how they organize them."

The Mayo marathon, for example, started at midnight and was followed by a 10 a.m. breakfast and awards ceremony. In the Cordova Marathon, which Lanford won, runners timed themselves. The Tongass Marathon in Ketchikan winds through the Tongass National Forest on roads and trails that are normally closed to the public.

"That's second to the Equinox as my favorite marathon in the state," Lanford said.

Lanford started running 25 years ago to lose weight and has never stopped. She likes running because "it takes absolutely no skill," she said.

"I've been a klutz all my life," confessed Lanford, flashing her trademark big and ever-present smile. "All those kids who were picked last, played right field and hated gymnasium, I'm one of them."

All totaled, Lanford has run 42 marathons in eight states, three countries and two provinces. Lanford ran her first marathon in 1981 while living in Guam, where she spent 1 1/2 years working as a wire editor for the Pacific Daily News. Since then, she has run at least one marathon every year.

A detail person

Born and raised in St. Paul, Minn., Lanford attended nearby St. Olaf College, where she received a bachelor's degree in economics. She joined the Peace Corps after college and spent two years in Micronesia, a batch of islands in the South Pacific, working with local farmers and artists on how to develop markets for their goods.

She remained in the Pacific after her stint in the Peace Corps, moving first to Saipan, where she worked for three years as a reporter and then editor of a weekly newspaper, Mariana's Variety, and then to Guam.

It was in Guam that she met and married her husband, Steve, an explosive ordnance expert in the U.S. Navy. They moved to Hawaii for three years in the mid-1980s and Lanford continued to dabble in journalism, working as a copy editor for the Honolulu Advertiser, among other jobs.

When Steve was transferred to Port Hadlock in western Washington in 1987, Lanford continued to find journalism jobs at local papers.

But after more than 10 years of journalism, Lanford decided in 1990 it was time for a career change. She was in the middle of an interview for a reporting job with a small paper in western Washington when she realized journalism wasn't for her.

She cut the editor off in the middle of the interview and said, "Ya know, I don't want to do this anymore." She still laughs about the fact the editor called her and offered her the job.

Recalling a high school aptitude test that suggested she would make a good accountant, Lanford charted a new course. As fate would have it, Lanford learned that the professor of the only accounting class she took in college was retired on Whidbey Island.

"I met up with him in a McDonald's and we planned out the rest of my life in the next hour and a half," Lanford said with a laugh.

She went back to school at Western Washington University in Bellingham to get her master's in business administration and took the required undergrad accounting classes to become a CPA. Lanford graduated in August 1993 and passed the CPA exam on her first try.

Having thought about moving north for about 10 years, Lanford chose Alaska to serve a two-year apprenticeship to get her CPA. She took a job with Cook & Haugeberg, the largest accounting firm in Fairbanks, in September 1993.

"We figured we'd stick around for two years and see how we liked it," said Lanford. "The third year we bought a house and 13 years later we're happy."

Accounting suits her personality, Lanford said.

"It's detail work and I'm a detail person," she said.

Going the extra mile

Lanford runs an average of only about 25 miles a week, which is a remarkably low distance for a marathon runner. Her normal routine is to do two or three shorter runs during the week and one long run on the weekend.

"I run a marathon a week, which from a serious runner's perspective is not much," said Lanford, who typically finishes in 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

That might help explain why she has never had any kind of major injury in 25 years of running, a fact that fellow runner and friend Dorli McWayne said classifies Lanford as "superhuman."

Friend and training partner Steve Bainbridge said Lanford has found her niche as a marathoner.

"She's just got that determination and grit to make the marathon her race," said Bainbridge.

The walls of her home off Murphy Dome Road feature posters of various marathons. There is one from Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., which Lanford ran last year in an impressive 3 hours, 18 minutes--her fastest time since 1987--to celebrate her 50th birthday. There is one of the Kilauea Volcano Wilderness Marathon, run on the lava beds on the Big Island in Hawaii. The latest addition will be a poster from the Boston Marathon, which she ran for the second time in April.

"I'll have to make room for that one," she said.

Silver plates earned for top finishes in the Equinox Marathon--her highest place is third--adorn one of her windowsills. The closest thing she has to a favorite marathon is the Equinox, which she has completed 10 times.

"It has everything in it," she said. "It makes you use every muscle in your body and legs."

Of all the metals and awards she has won over the years, the most treasured is the Spirit of the Equinox Award she received in 2001 from Running Club North for her work with the Equinox Marathon. The award is voted on by past winners and honors someone's contributions to not only the Equinox, but running in Fairbanks.

Lanford is known in the running community as someone who will go the extra mile.

"She's extremely dependable and willing to do whatever it takes to put on a race," said McWayne. "She goes out of her way to make new people feel welcome in the running community. I swear she knows the name of every runner in the community."

Ask her what it is she likes about running in general and marathons in particular and Lanford will tell you it's more about personal satisfaction than competitiveness.

"I love being healthy and being in shape, knowing that every day I can walk out the door and run 15 miles," she said.

When she ran the Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota last year, Lanford watched an 82-year-old woman finish the race in less than five hours.

"I want to be like her," Lanford said. "I'll just keep going as long as I can."

As for hitting the proverbial "wall" as many marathoners do toward the end of a race, that's not a problem for Lanford.

"I've never had a bad marathon," she said.

News-Miner staff writer Tim Mowry can be reached at 459-7587 or tmowry@newsminer.com .

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Story Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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