Carmel marathon founder completes 26.2-mile races in 50 states


It took 22 years, but Todd Oliver completed his quest to complete a marathon in all 50 states.

Like many of the 50-state club members, Oliver chose Hawaii for his final one, finishing the Honolulu Marathon Dec. 10, 2023.

“A lot of the 50-state members chose Hawaii as their finishing state to make it a little more celebratory,” said Oliver, who had never been to Hawaii previously.

The 57-year-old Carmel resident completed his first marathon in 2001 in Nashville, Tenn.

“It wasn’t my plan then to run 50 states,” he said.

In 2012, he joined a national running club after completing a marathon in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The subject came up about how many states he had run a marathon in.

“At that point, it was 10 states, and I thought I’m 20 percent on my way and maybe this could be a goal of mine,” he said.

He was the president of Indy Runners Club from 2006-08, the largest club in Indiana. During that time, he said a group of runners decided to travel for events.

“All of a sudden, those traveling trips had a new focus,” he said. “If we are all going to travel together to do an event, let’s now choose a new state to do versus doing repetitive states and have a goal to it. The focus really ramped up.”

In 2011, Oliver started Carmel Road Racing Group, which was the event management company that started the Carmel Marathon. The rights to the Carmel Marathon were sold to Full Circle Events in May 2023. Oliver founded the Carmel Runners Club in 2012 and served as president for three years.

Oliver said finding states to run a marathon in became more challenging because of conflicts with the date of the Carmel Marathon weekend.

“What I thought would be a lot easier to accomplish became difficult with the last 10 states because I was running out of dates and some of the states only had a couple of marathons a year,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic also slowed his progress. Oliver ran four marathons in 2023 to complete his goal, running in New Mexico, New Jersey and North Dakota before finishing in Hawaii.

“I was happy that physically I was still able to do it,” he said. “Usually the biggest problem of running the 50 states is the body can’t hold out long enough to get all of it done.”

Oliver said he loves marathons because they never get easy.

“Every time you start there is so much emotion involved along with everyone you are running with,” Oliver said. “Once you reach the finish, there is such a euphoric, celebratory feeling. It becomes addictive regardless of how well you do.”

Oliver has completed 69 marathons. From the start of his first one, he estimates he has run close to 40,000 total miles, counting training miles.

Oliver said he usually averages 1,400 miles a year.

Oliver plans to run April 13 in Carmel Marathon’s half-marathon.

“It will be the first time ever to experience the Carmel Marathon as a participant,” Oliver said. “I’m looking through the neighborhoods and seeing the cheer groups people have told me about that I’ve never seen. I’m going to pace it so that means people will get to talk and run with me throughout the race.”