Runners take off in inaugural Twin City Marathon

Runners in both races take off in West Monroe. (Source: KNOE)
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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - More than 150 people from 14 states and two countries participated in the inaugural Twin City Marathon on Sunday. Both the half and full marathon guided the runners throughout downtown Monroe and West Monroe.

"Running from South Africa, running in all the 50 states in America,” Rosemary Wilson says. “This is my 49th." Wilson is making it her mission to see everything the United States has to offer.

The 65-year-old from South Africa is running it with her running partner Robert Bishton. "I met Robert in South Africa, and he convinced me to come over to the states and try running in all the 50 states. And, so I am."

Bishton says it took a while to get Wilson back on the trail after a 30-year hiatus, but it was worth the effort. "It took me a while, but I said if you come to America, I'll show you around all the 50 states, and you can run the marathon in each one," Bishton says.

So, the Twin City Marathon marks off Wilson's 49th state. Bishton is completing the American road trip for the 7th time. Although he has competed in more than 50 countries, he enjoys running in events hosted in smaller places like the Twin Cities.

"I love going to the smaller cities and towns, because that's where typically tourists don't go,” Bishton says. "And that's what I love about this. You meet wonderful people."

John Smith agrees. The Virginia native is working on a similar goal. He plans to run in all seven continents, but he was able to get in a practice run in northeast Louisiana Sunday morning too. Smith says what’s made an impression on him is the small taste of great Louisiana food and the southern hospitality.

"Terriffic. People are really wonderful here," Smith says. "That's the main thing that comes across to somebody visiting. Just helpful. Everybody speaks whether they know you or not. So, it's been really a pleasant time here."

All in all, they all say their trip to the Twin Cities was “fabulous.”

Wilson’s last state is Florida, which is Bishton’s home state. They plan on running in a marathon there in December. Smith says he plans on running in his fourth and fifth continents next year.

Proceeds from the race will go towards St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The race is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Organizers say next year's race will be bigger and better.