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Virginia Runner Completes Half Marathon in All 50 States, While Undergoing Cancer Treatment

Last weekend, the Fargo Marathon in North Dakota marked its 20th anniversary. The race also marked a big accomplishment—in the works for over a decade—for Virginia runner Dawn Marshall, a 59-year-old cancer survivor from Newport News. When Marshall completed the event’s half-marathon, she also finished her longtime goal of running a half in all 50 states. 

“This means a lot to me,” Marshall told Fargo’s Valley News Live. “There were days when I didn’t want to train. I’ve been out in the cold, snow, injured. There’s not a lot of people that have run in all 50 states. I’m here to say that regardless of what your ailments are, you can do it if you put your mind to it.”

Throughout her 11-year journey of running 13.1-mile races across America, Marshall endured seven rounds of chemotherapy treatments. She found support through her friends in Black Girls RUN!, a running group that empowers and motivates African-American women to prioritize fitness and healthy living. Members of the group surprised Marshall on race day to celebrate with her. 

“This is really emotional for me because I didn’t know my friends were going to show up,” Marshall added. “I just really love and appreciate them. I just want people to know you can stay healthy regardless of your injuries or anything you’re dealing with. The takeaway is get out and do the best you can.” 

Cover photo: Courtesy of Visit Fargo-Moorhead of the Fargo Marathon from May 10, 2014.

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