Tragedy Transpired Triumph

Tragedy Transpired Triumph

Submitted By Tracey Cohen

Nine years ago, 51-year-old Rick Larese, witnessed his former best man, Jimbo undergo a massive heart attack in the front seat of his car. Mere seconds was all it took his best friend was gone, and life would never be the same.

Their dream to play golf in all fifty states lost its luster. An All League and All City runner in high school, Larese returned to his roots. Not long after he took to the roads, Rick decided to run a marathon in every state.

After Larese struggled with injuries and the ramifications running twenty-six-point-two miles had on his body, he decided to revise his goal and run a half marathon in each state.

It became too difficult to drive back to Michigan after the race. Rick conceded. I remember stopping for gas in Iowa. It took five minutes to get out of the car and limp into the grocery store!

In 2004, Rick ran a half marathon in eight different states including the Atlanta Half in Georgia on Thanksgiving Day. A bona fide family man, Larese flew home after the race and arrived in time to take his bride, Laura, to one of their favorite restaurants in their hometown of Milford.

The couple enjoyed a nice meal out, but Rick recalled feeling strange. The next thing he could remember was being taken to the hospital by ambulance.

After some testing my doctor told me I had a brain tumor! Rick revealed. I felt my life was over.

Hardly. Under the care of his doctors and support of his family, Larese regrouped and carried on in pursuit of his goal.

It turned out to be a slow growing tumor about half the size of my thumb, Larese explained. I have an MRI every year to check its growth, but it might not ever be removed. It does not affect my running or my life. If it ever grows and starts pushing on my brain, it will be time to take it out. If not, I'll leave it until they do it at the drive-thru.

Nine months after being diagnosed, Rick was back on track and ran the County Open Half Marathon in Houlton, ME. With just sixty-two people in the race, Rick was known by all as the marathon man from Michigan.

A few years later, Larese discovered, Half2Run, a half marathon club whose members strive to run a half marathon in half the states. I was already planning on running a half in every state due to Jim's death. After joining the club, I really concentrated on getting to twenty-five.

Though weather conditions at the start of 2010 were a nightmare for Larese a February snowstorm in South Carolina, wet and blustery March weather in Kentucky - Rick persevered.

April in Kansas proved sunny for the Olathe Half Marathon, and at last, May 22, 2010 in North Dakota, Rick completed his Half2Run challenge amidst hammering rain and wind at the Scheels Fargo Half Marathon.

It was an excellent place for it, Larese said regarding the venue of his achievement. The entire town was out cheering!

Thirteen-point-one miles in twenty-five different states is quite an accomplishment, but Larese does not intend to rest on his laurels.

I hope to finish all fifty states, Rick affirmed. I have met many people on my journey throughout the USA and have decided that runners are #1.

For more information on Half2Run, please visit

Tracey Cohen can be reached by email at [email protected]