Keith LaScalea takes unique journey throughout America
Physician completes marathons in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.
Riding in a pink limousine to Graceland. Visiting an elephant sanctuary outside Little Rock, Ark. Seeing a man in a tutu with a magic wand offering free wishes for faster running times in Vegas.
Keith LaScalea ’94 had these experiences — and many more — on his journey throughout America that few are able or willing to take. In January, he completed the Maui Oceanfront Marathon in Hawaii, which made him part of an elite club of runners who have successfully completed marathons in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
“[Hawaii] was an amazing experience as 40 of my family and friends came to support me in this milestone moment,” LaScalea says. Among the crowd were longtime Binghamton friends Mitchell Katz and Kate Solomon, both ’95. “In retrospect, I am very happy all of us were able to celebrate together in this stunning location before the pandemic began.”
As a student at Binghamton, LaScalea would occasionally run on campus or in the Nature Preserve. But he didn’t pick up long-distance running until years later. A physician for Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, he lives in Manhattan along the city’s iconic marathon route and that’s where he ran his first marathon, in 2003. He subsequently ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Marathon.
And each time he completed a race, he got the bug to sign up for another one.
“I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said ‘50+D.C.’ and I asked what it meant,” LaScalea says. “It was a challenge to do a marathon in every state. Somewhere around 2007, I thought this would be a good goal to have. I hadn’t traveled much growing up, and I thought it would be a great way to see the country.”
Along the way, LaScalea went through a stretch where he ran a marathon every month. Why? He says each marathon was a training run for the next. Some races were memorable for good reasons; others just reminded him that running 26.2 miles is always tough. He thought a Wisconsin marathon would be fairly easy, offering miles of flat Midwestern terrain. Instead it delivered brutal hills, earning the name “extreme marathon.” He was bitten in the face by a yellow jacket during the Akron Marathon in Ohio. At the 2006 Chicago Marathon, he surprised himself by running his personal best time of 3:12:53 — fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
“The conditions were perfect,” LaScalea says. “Cool, with a light drizzle, and I was well-trained. Getting into Boston wasn’t really a goal for me. I don’t pay too much attention to the clock because the marathon always has a way of disappointing you. But that was a very good day!”
LaScalea’s story is included in Tales from the Trails: Runners’ Stories that Inspire and Transform (Glitterati Editions, 2019). With a 50+D.C. shirt of his own now, where does he go from here? He plans to hit the world’s major marathons, including London and Tokyo, once it’s safe enough to travel again.
“As a physician, you can be working all the time, unless you specifically choose to stay fit,” LaScalea says. “Early on, I had decided that I wanted to stay active. [The 50+D.C.] challenge was a great way to have something continuously on my calendar to keep me motivated.”