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Strider Spotlight: Judy Graham-Garcia

 | Published on 11/18/2019

Belton, SC native, Judy Graham-Garcia joined MVS 3 years ago after meeting many members who were training at Breakaway Triathlon Training.  When she found us, she was already an Ironman, an ultra-runner, and 40 states into her quest to run a marathon in all 50 states!


Judy ran her first marathon in Disney in 2004 after quitting smoking in 2003.  Like many of us, she was determined this would be “one and done”. She was living in Augusta, GA at the time and trained with former Olympian, Jeff Galloway’s group where he would come from Atlanta and run with them sometimes.  “I was so slow and overweight at Disney as I ate more after I quit smoking, but I was thrilled that I had finished and was quite motivated to get fitter.”  Continuing to train and improve, Judy ran the Country Music Marathon in Nashville 3 months later.  “One and done” indeed!


That first marathon opened the door to over 88 marathons/ultras/Iron Man races.  She has ran the New York City Marathon three times, and Boston five times.  She has raised thousands of dollars for Boston Medical Center, where she worked as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, caring for victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing (she also ran that year), and the American Medical Athletic Association.  A 4-time Iron Man, Judy has also ran several ultras, including Pineland Farms 50K and Ghost Train 30 miler.  For her 50th birthday, Judy travelled to Greece and ran the Marathon on the 2500th anniversary of the trek from Marathon to Athens.


It’s taken Judy 15 years and 7 months to complete 50 marathons in 50 states, finishing in Alaska earlier this year.  When asked to give others advice who are considering tackling a 50-state goal, she offers, “Use credit cards with generous points and frequent flier miles.  Piggyback and dovetail races off other trips (weddings, business travel, etc.).  Join the 50 States Marathon Club to get registration discounts.  Work lots of overtime!  Find friends to travel with and share expenses.”  She also notes that the more urban the race, the quicker and cheaper the trip.


So what’s the next extraordinary goal?  While she has a lot of ideas, Judy doesn’t have a new running goal yet.  She’s looking forward to relaxing a bit, while continuing to run and get fitter after a stressful year of travel and purchasing a new home.  She would love to visit all of the National Parks and hike the 4000 footers of New Hampshire.


Judy is a Clemson alumna and an avid Tigers football fan.  Her family is spread out from Portland, Maine to Augusta, Georgia.  A grandmother of 3, Judy lives in Amesbury with her partner, Adam Nisson, an avid runner and cyclist, and her daughter Caitlin – both MVS members recruited by Judy herself! 


If you know of someone who is doing some amazing things in the running community whose story should be shared, please email us at