LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The second annual Long Beach Carnival Classic Marathon kicked off Saturday morning with participation almost doubling from last year. As the event grows, it draws fans from across the country, including Maureen Bowen.
For Bowen, one of the 275 runners who signed up for the Long Beach Carnival Classic Half Marathon, the 5k race was just one more to check off of her list.
"Three years ago I made a decision that I was going to change my life and decided to lose some weight. If I wanted to be accountable held accountable, I needed to maybe run some races," Bowen said.
So the journey began. Three years and many pounds ago, Bowen set out to run a half marathon in all 50 states by the time she reached 50.
"I have actually lost about 100 pounds. Still going, but I've lost 100 pounds in this adventure. Running has totally changed my life, and it gives me something that every week holds me accountable," Bowen said.
She also holds herself accountable for spreading that same courageous message to others. One thing she says she always keeps in mind, is even if you don't finish first, just finishing is an accomplishment in itself.
"I was showing pictures to people before, and they were like, 'We don't even recognize who you are.' I don't run the fastest, and I don't run all of the race. I do a run-walk, but every time I get a medal, that means I accomplished what I set out for that day," Bowen said.
Words of wisdom for first time runners like Ann Wilson. Wilson traveled from Michigan to participate. With this being her first race, it will probably take some time before she's walking away with trophies. Nonetheless she's proud to have met her goal.
"I felt like giving up a couple times. And on the way back, I just felt like I was closer to the finish line, and I was getting a lot of support from everybody along the way. It was nice to finish it and accomplish it," Wilson said.
So if you're thinking of hitting the pavement, but don't think you can do it, Maureen Bowen is offering you a page of courage from her book.
Bowen is 47 years old, and Saturday's run marked her thirtieth state. Her next stop is back home in Raleigh, NC, for the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
You can keep up with her progress on her facebook page by clicking here.