Jennifer Hatcher goes the distance

By Frank Lewis

September 29, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

What kind of person runs five marathons in five different cities in one week; runs 100 miles in another race and sets as her goal to run 50 marathons by year’s end?

Last week Jennifer Hatcher of Portsmouth did the Center of the Nations Marathon – one marathon each day in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska a total of more than 132 miles. In what may sound impossible, She ran the Umstead 100 Endurance Race in Raleigh, N.C. this spring, for the record, that event is 100 miles long.

“I did five states in five days and five marathons,” Hatcher said. “I met a guy named Tim Hurst. He is a leg amputee. He’s doing all 50 states as well. At 21 years old he was in a motorcycle-car accident. A drunk driver hit him. He woke up a month or so later paralyzed without his legs and without a finger. He wanted to give up, but years later he got prosthetics and taught himself to run again. Another lady I met this week is 72 years old doing five marathons in five states in five days.”

So why does she do it?

“It’s the people that you meet,” Hatcher said. “And then they continue to inspire you, and you inspire somebody else, just because you can. There’s people who can’t walk. There’s people who can’t do anything. I was told to stop running after my knee surgery in (20)09.”

That was when she found only 1 out of the 4 compartments of her knee had cartridge left so a doctor performed three micro fractures where they drilled holes to try to get it to regrow. It took a long time to recover, but she biked and did the ellipitcal constantly attempting to run only to be discouraged.

“I found a couple doctors out of town trying to get someone to tell me I would run again but kept getting told those days were probably over unless I wanted a knee replacement in a couple years,” Hatcher said. “After a third opinion of being told that, the very next day was the lottery for the New York City Marathon and a friend and I got in for 2010 and we had to do it. So in 2010 I pretty much walked the NYC marathon but I finished.”

“It took me probably a-year-and-a-half to be able to run again,” Hatcher said. “And then as soon as I set my mind to it, and I had always wanted to do the longer distance, I began to push myself to see what I could do.”

Hatcher has completed 38 marathons and two ultra runs this year alone and plans to hit 50 by the end of the year. In fact, she plans to do a marathon in all 52 states by the time she is 50 (a little more than four years to go). She has completed 27 states and the Virgin Islands (St. Croix) so far.

Hatcher said she has the “3 Day of the Dead Marathon” series coming up in October and will run a marathon Texas, Arizona and New Mexico (one each day). In addition, there’s the prestigious JFK 50-miler in Maryland in November which she did last year too.

In her spare time this year, she rode the Tour of the Scioto River Valley bicycle trip and the Triple T, 3-days, 4-triathlons, 140 plus miles, one epic event at Shawnee State Park.

Hatcher is a certified running coach and personal trainer and owner of Fitness 24 Plus – a 24 hour fitness center on Glover Street. She’s considered an ultra runner I the running circles. She’s also an IronMan.

She got started in this back in 2003 when she stopped smoking and decided to get healthy and lose weight. She had lost 70 pounds in 2001, but with no motivation, ballooned back up to 244 pounds. That’s when her life turned around.

“In 2003 I finally decided it was time to take the weight off again,” Hatcher said. “It took about 6-8 months and I lost 85 pounds….now I needed a goal to keep me motivated and I got certified as an AEA Water Aerobics Instructor and started teaching Water Aerobics at SOMC Life Center. I also did my first 5K that year at Run For Your Life. I remember trying to learn to run and making it one block then a walk then jog a block and a walk and then I would just keep adding on. I remember the feeling the first night I ran around the track at the Life Center two whole times then the first time I ran a mile without stopping. It’s all about consistency and anyone can do it.”

Since then, Hatcher has not looked back. She has participated in 24 events already this year, and when the year rings out, she will have participated in 38 competitions. She counts among her accomplishments the recent opportunity to inspire a friend, who has now not only began running herself, but she too has begun inspiring others.

When she is not running she is doing things like teaching spinning classes at her Fitness Plus 24 fitness center on Glover Street. She says the people she competes with are very special to her.

“They’re not just friends, they’re like your family,” Hatcher said. “It’s hard to explain, there’s such a small percentage of them, and then you see them from race to race to race. You see so much of the world on foot. When you’re in the car, you’re going so fast you don’t take it all in, and people are amazing. They’re like family.”

There is really no way to end a story about Jennifer Hatcher because you get the feeling there is no end, and maybe that above all says more than everything else she has accomplished.

Jennifer Hatcher’s 2013 itinerary:

1-27 St Croix Scenic 50 miler DONE

2-16 Pilot Mountain marathon DONE

2-24 Last Chance Marathon DONE

3-2 Double Top 100K (dropped then race cancelled due to incliment weather)

3-16 Classice Trail Marathon VR

3-17 Wrightsville Beach Marathon

4-6 Umstead 100 mile Endurance Run DONE

4-27 Dogwood Festival 50 mile bike DONE

5-4 Cap City Half MarathonDONE


6-7 Bear Lake marathon UT DONE

6-8 Bear Lake marathon ID DONE

6-22 Grandmas marathon DONE

6-28-6-29 24 Hours of Booty Ride DONE

7-20 Loonies Midnight Marathon TN DONE

7-27 Kanawha Trace 50K DONE

8-17 Beast of Burden 50 miler DONE

9-7 Freak 50K DONE

9-16-9-20 Center of the Nations marathon series

9-16 ND DONE

9-17 SD DONE

9-18 WY DONE


9-20 NE DONE

10-4 MOX 12 Hour

10-19 Indianpolis Marathon

10-20 Columbus Marathon

10-26 Greensboro Marathon

10-31-11-13 Day of the Dead marathon series

10-31 TX

11-1 AZ

11-2 NM

11-3 NM

11-10 Marshall Marathon

11-17 Hot Chocolate 15K

11-23 JFK 50 miler

12-14 Rocket City Marathon AL

12-28 HUFF 50K

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.