Running friends join the 50 States Marathon Club

Wed. October 25, 2017 12:28 PM by Ross Forman

will dong (l) and mac ming completed the des moines marathon

photo credit // will dong
As Ming Mac proudly proclaimed, Mission Acclaimed!

Mac and Will Dong each completed the Des Moines Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 15, completing their multi-year journey to run a marathon in all 50 States.

That's 1,310 miles run on race days across the U.S.

"I was very excited and relieved," to join the 50 States Marathon Club, Mac said. "I saved an American flag shirt that Will gave me to match my red, white and blue shorts to run the 50th state. I am an immigrant. I came here as a boat person when I escaped from Vietnam in 1989. I truly love this country. So, I decided to wear the flagged-themed uniform to run the 50th state to celebrate what a great country we live in. I am very thankful and grateful that this country accepts immigrants like myself."

As he crossed the finish line, Mac was "very happy, blessed and grateful" for what he achieved.

"It wasn't easy to run one marathon after another without having sufficient time to allow my body to fully recover," said Mac, who lives in Chicago. "I ran the Chicago marathon (on Oct. 8) and jammed my big toe nail badly. So, I was very worried about not being able to finish my last state."

Ultimately, Mac crossed the finish line in 3:43:57.

"Our initial goal was to finish the 50th state together, (and though it didn't happen), I was thrilled, relieved and emotional that our dreams came true," Mac said. "It was truly a blessing to finish the 50th state marathon with Will. I was lucky to have a friend who also is interested in trying to achieve the same goal. Will picked the races, the cities to run and coordinated (many details). Thank you for everything, Will; I could not have done it alone."

Ironically, Dong almost missed the Des Moines Marathon.

His overnight flight from San Francisco to Chicago was delayed more than an hour. And then his Chicago-to-Des Moines flight also was significantly delayed.

Mac actually had to claim Dong's running number the day before the race.

The travel woes "were not exactly my (planned) pre-race day schedule, but it all worked out," Dong said.

Dong, who moved from Chicago to Northern California a few years ago, said completing his 50th State marathon brought "relief." He finished in 3:40.26.

"I felt a little extra pressure to finish as we had already gotten so many congratulations, (so) I felt I needed to finish, no matter what. Mentally, I knew I could, but anything can happen along the road of 26.2 miles," Dong said.

Crossing the finish line, Dong said he was, "super excited ...I just couldn't believe it was happening."

"Ming and I shared so many experiences (over the past) 5-plus years running; I just kept thinking about that last race and it was finally becoming reality. A goal that once seemed so far-fetched was within miles, then yards, feet ...steps ...and then crossing that finish-line was an indescribable feeling."

Dong said he was "super grateful" to have set a crazy goal, and then accomplished the goal, especially with Mac.

"I had a really good run for my standards as the day was just perfect – great running weather, beautiful course/city to run through, friends along the course, and I felt pretty good physically as I crossed the finish-line, which isn't always the case," Mac said. "I was a little surprised about the hills early (on), but then it settled down and I just really enjoyed the race and the friendly people of Des Moines."

Mac added, "I'd like to thank the host cities, friends, strangers, spectators and especially those volunteers who devoted their time to make the events possible for us to complete all 50 States. Thank you again!"