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Jeff Johnston: Marathon Man

Marathons are tests of a person's will and long-term dedication. Jeff Johnston has run a marathon of marathons.

Many athletes consider running one marathon the pinnacle of their distance running careers. Johnston has just completed one incredible marathon running achievement and he is about to complete another running milestone.

On Sunday Johnston completed the Deadwood - Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, S.D. With the running of this marathon, Johnston has become one of the rare runners who has completed a marathon in all 50 states.

The next marathon that Johnston completes will be another testament to the long-reaching running goals that he has set for himself. Johnston now stands at 99 marathons that he has completed. The next marathon that Johnston completes will be the 100th of his running career.

Johnston plans to complete the 100th marathon of his career when he runs in Grandma's Marathon in Duluth on June 21.

Johnston completed Sunday's marathon with many friends, family and fellow members of the New Richmond Running Club cheering him on along the 26.2-mile course.

The durability that Johnston possesses is remarkable, even among runners. He often runs two marathons on the same weekend. Rarely does his finishing time exceed 3 hours and 30 minutes and seldom has he experienced any down time due to injuries.

When asked what it meant to reach his goal, Johnston said, "Before the race started this morning, I was kind of worried something would go wrong, but I made it to the finish. It's hard to express my feelings right now. It's been a great run."

Johnston was one of four local runners who competed in the full marathon at Deadwood. Johnston completed the race in 3:35.49. Brian Maul completed the course in 3:28.54; J. Evans in 4:00.09 and Jim Baillargeon in 4:20.03. There were 294 runners who completed the marathon.

There were 1,027 runners who completed the half marathon in Deadwood. Local finishers in the half marathon included:

Jim Heebink 1:38:38

Cliff Tenner 1:48:20

Dave Goodrich 1:53:37

Billy Burkhalter 1:55:36

Ralph Mondor 2:14:41

Chris Kelly-Stewart 2:56:19

A local team of women, The Chick Runners, ran the marathon as a team. They completed the course in 4:46.34. Team members were Suz Thomson, Beth Lybeck, Jill Lundell, Marcella Trost and Beth Wood.

Johnston, 53, came up with the idea of running a marathon in every state in November 2002. At that point, he'd already run marathons in four states. He eliminated 11 states in 2003 and has been whittling away at the list each year since then.

Johnston is a member of the 50 States Marathon Club. This is a club of people who have completed marathons in all 50 states or are trying to achieve that mark.