Ashley Lynch hated running as a child, so much so that she’d pretend to be sick when her gym class had to run a mile. Things have changed a bit.
In 2013, Lynch enrolled in nursing school at Central Wyoming College. It was at that point that she decided she wanted to set a healthy-living example for her then 3-year-old daughter.
It started with kicking her cigarette habit, “I really didn’t want my daughter to ever remember me smoking,” she said. “A few weeks into school I decided it was time to quit smoking. Being a single mom, smoking had been my alone time. It was my break for myself. Shortly after quitting smoking I realized I needed to find an alternative break. At the time we lived in an apartment building in Riverton next to the old track. The track became my break. My first attempt at running four laps around the track was brutal. But I kept at it until I ran or jogged four laps without stopping. Four laps then turned into eight and then turned to moving off the track and training for my first 5k.”
One of Lynch’s first big challenges was the Grand Teton Relay. The race began in Ashton, Idaho and finished in Jackson, Wyoming. She described, “I was laying on the couch recuperating from what seemed like the death of my legs. I was reminiscing about how beautiful the terrain had been through the course and wondered where else I could run that would be beautiful. Where could running take me, I wondered.”
Ashley said she didn’t get to travel much as a kid and there were very few places she had been able to see outside of Wyoming. “It was then that I got the idea of going to every state to run a race, with already running in Wyoming and Idaho, I only had 48 states to go.”
The Grand Teton Relay turned into more races; 5K’s, 10K’s, and a lot of 15K’s and half-marathons. But she didn’t stop there, she’s also finished two full-marathons and two full relay races. As of early 2019, she’s run in 33 states.
Lynch continues to run as an example for her daughter, even bringing her to run alongside in some of the 5K’s. She also attributes her motivation to her personal trainer, Zedo Foy, who she is currently working to for her next adventure.
This July, Ashley will fly to Boston, rent a car, and proceed to run in 6 half-marathons in 6 days, in 6 different states. In August, she’s planned a trip to Alaska with her sister. Alaska is scheduled to be her 40th state, the race also happens to be the same day as her sister’s 40th birthday. Lynch says her goal right now is to finish all 50 states in December 2020, with Hawaii as the last on her itinerary.
Ashley says her, “most dreaded question” is one we asked her. Where was your favorite place to run so far?
“So many states have such fun and wonderful memories. One of the top contenders would have to be California. My sister Bralli and I went to San Francisco to run a half marathon. We were able to run over the golden gate bridge on my 31st birthday. And to top it off my Aunt Lisa and cousin AJ made the long drive from where he was stationed to surprise me. It was a wonderful race, experience, incredible food and even better company. Last summer, my daughter and Aunt Lisa drove across the country for a 17-day trip to run 7 races in 7 different states. We drove, camped, ran, and repeated. We ran in the town Mark Twain was raised and camped next to the caves in his books. I was able to play in the ocean with my daughter for the first time and climb a lighthouse. It was 17 days and 6,500 miles of memories that I never would have had if this goal was not in the works.”
If you’d like to follow the journey, follow the links below!