Marathoner reaches 50-by-50

December 18, 2002 11:00 pm
MULTI-MARATHONER Carol Witwer now wants to shoot for 60. (Dan Goldman/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).
MULTI-MARATHONER Carol Witwer now wants to shoot for 60. (Dan Goldman/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).

By DAN GOLDMAN

Even for a sport like marathon running, in which goals are measured by hours, months and years, Sonora resident Carol Witwer's ability to focus on the distant future has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Witwer, who turned 50 last January, wrapped up her first half-century in style on Dec. 8 when she completed the California International Marathon in Sacramento — allowing her to reach a long-time dream of completing 50 marathons in 50 years.

In marathon terms, Witwer had to run a veritable sprint to make the finish line. After taking a five-year break from marathon running in the mid-1990s, she was forced to run nine marathons in five years (including three this year) in order to reach 50 by 50.

"After I began running marathons, I started to set goals," said Witwer, who ran her first marathon in 1979's "Avenue of the Giants" in Humboldt County. "I really embraced that, and with every new challenge, I felt like, why not."

With her husband, Mike, Witwer began running five or six marathons per year in the early 1980s and even established the Redwood Empire 24-hour track run while living in Santa Rosa in 1980. During the Witwers' 10-year association with the event, the benefit raised close to $500,000 for the American Cancer Society.

As the 26.2-mile events became more routine, Witwer took the next step and moved on to 50-mile ultra-distance events.

By 1982, while using marathons as a training tool for ultra-distance competitions, Witwer reached milestones in both sports. First, she qualified for the elite Boston Marathon by three seconds with a time of 3 hours, 19 minutes and 57 seconds. Soon afterward, she completed the grueling Western States 100 ultra-distance event from Squaw Valley to Auburn under the 30-hour limit.