UPDATE - 05/01/07
Dr. Williams has completed 141 out of the 159 counties in Georgia and recently completed all of the 50 state capitals.
UPDATE - 10/13/03
This past weekend Dr. Williams finished his 50th state race in Salem, Oregon at the Race Judicata 8K where he took 1st in the 50-59 age group. The race director, Karen Moynihan, learned of his upcoming feat, she went all out. He not only got a spotlight in the local newspaper, The Salem Stateman Journal, but she had a special plaque made up for the occasion that congratulated Dr. Williams on his 50th state completed and put his name on the back of the T-shirt along with the sponsors.
Runners, by nature, make a habit of setting goals. Talk to any runner and you will almost always hear a different set of goals. Dr. Daniel J Williams' goals have now turned into a quest, or as he likes to call it - an odyssey.
A professor of chemistry at Kennesaw State University, one of Williams' goals is to run in an event (officially timed events only) in every county in Georgia - 159 counties in all. But it doesn't stop there. Williams is also attempting to run an event in every state and every state capitol (officially timed events only).
How is he doing?
Williams, 54, is closing in on the county mark as he has completed an event in 129 counties. In May he ran a 10K in Bismarck, ND to give him 47 states and 44 state capitols to date.
"It's long term enough yet doable. My best running years were the early 90's, although I'm strickly a mid-packer. If I net an age-group award, which I have done several times, that's just gravy," said Williams
Originally from Ohio, Williams began running about 15 years ago to help him lose weight. He started setting goals and out of those goals the odyssey began. While Williams prefers smaller events he does some larger ones, including the Peachtree Road Race. Overall, Williams has done 291 races, 157 of those have been 5K's. With his goals targeted, Williams rarely repeats events, but has run an event at Kennesaw State University six times.
The goal to run in every county in Georgia (Williams has conquered Delaware, running in all four counties) has been the toughest for Williams. Not all counties hold a running event, so Williams has had to organize a few himself.
"Even if I have to organize [races] on my own, we'll get the job done," said Williams.
Williams and his wife Marty Williams were the original founders of the Polar Bear Run that started in 1988. He also organizes and directs the Hiram 7K.
"She goes with me to most of the Georgia races and enters them even if they don't have a racewalk division," Williams said about his wife, an accomplished racewalker. "She's excited about my goals and supports me. She has said that the remaining state capitols cannot be done by myself, especially Hawaii and Alaska. We're also targeting the Sante Fe 10K which has a judged racewalk along with it."
With so many races under his belt what is Williams' favorite?
"I've had many, but the one that I enjoyed the most was the Annapolis 10 Miler in Annapolis, MD. That has to be my favorite state capitol so far. The course ran right though the Naval Academy and right through the town."
Williams also has seen several odd things while on his quest including a turtle laying eggs off to the side of the race course trail.
"It was the I.O. Silver Games 10K in Harrisburg, PA. The course ran through a beautiful little wildlife park right behind Harrisburg Community College, and there she was dropping her eggs in a hole, fortunately off to the side of the trail course."
So what's next?
Williams will run in the Stouffer 5K in Columbia County, GA on June 21. He is also working on getting in the final 20 miles that he has left on the C&O Canal Towpath near Washington, D.C and some of the Paw-Paw Tunnel. The next state capitol is Providence, R.I., and he will be able to cross off Alaska (not Juneau though) on his list of states at the end of October. That will leave Montana and Oregon as the only two states left. After Providence, Williams will have Concord, NH, Sante Fe, NM, Helena, MT, Salem, OR, and Juneau, AK to complete the state capitols.
When Williams is not running or at Kennesaw State, him and his wife are recorder players (not tape recorder) - "the wooden instruments that predated the flute and are use in renaissance and baroque music," Williams said.
They also sing in the church choir, which has done two European tours and volunteers in Pastoral Care at Kennestone Hospital were he visits patients and minister to their spiritual needs.