Santa Rosa Beach woman pulls off marathon “sweep”

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - At age 64, Carolann Dunbar has accomplished a feat with her two feet many of us can’t accomplish in a car or even taking a plane.

“I just run,” said a humble Dunbar.

True. But she runs a lot.

“I was working a night shift and I needed to fill my time in the mornings, so I started running five miles a day, a couple of days a week,” said Dunbar. “Twenty years later everybody kept asking me had I run a marathon?”

She had not. But in 1998 she finally took the leap, or the 63,000 steps if you will, in San Diego.

“I finished,” said Dunbar. “At 40 you’re not going to win. So it’s all about finishing. And that’s really an important thing in my mind to finish and to have fun.”

That fun turned into a few more runs.

“It was probably about four or five marathons into it and I thought, you know, this looks like something that’s just fun. I think I’ll keep it up and see how far I can go,” said Dunbar.

It’s turned into 52 marathons; that’s 1,362.4 miles.

“And then after that I just wanted to go all around the United States and see small towns. I mean, small towns they’re so much fun,” said Dunbar.

Small towns like Duluth, Minnesota.

“Duluth, Minnesota was really nice,” said Dunbar. “[It was] close to some of the national parks, so.”

And Fargo, North Dakota.

“Yeah, everybody’s seen Fargo the movie, so I was like, okay, Fargo,” said Dunbar.

Dunbar has run all the big U.S. marathons. She ran Boston in 2004, but says she’d rather stick to the small ones.

“Small to me is number of runners,” said Dunbar. “So, you know, I’ve run one that had 10 people in it. We did a group shot for the start.”

One was particularly small.

“The starting line was behind the crosswalk,” said a laughing Dunbar.

Last month, and 23 years after she ran her first 26.2 mile run, Dunbar accomplished the holy grail of marathoning in the U.S.

“I told my husband, okay, let’s do this. I’m going to do all 50 states,” said Dunbar.

We asked when she got to 35, 40 races under her belt did she say to herself and her husband, “I think we’re going to do this?”

“We’re going to do it, yep,” said Dunbar. “I knew if I started it, I would finish it.”

And she did. Spokane, Washington was the finish line for her grand feat. No pun intended.

“I was glad to have it behind me, you know, the monkey’s off your back at that point,” said Dunbar.

And she came home to a victory celebration, although she didn’t know it was planned.

“I have a fantastic group of friends down here and they threw a surprise celebration party for me in a restaurant,” said Dunbar. “They surprised me. I walked in thinking I was going to have a celebratory beer and they’re all hiding in the background.”

Well-deserved recognition for a not so simple achievement, but done for a simple reason.

“I just run,” said Dunbar. “I just run. It’s fun.”

Dunbar’s fastest time was 3:53 in Columbus, Ohio. She says she’ll run her next marathon in January.

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