On Friday, Anders Forselius had planned to ride his bicycle from Atlanta to Columbia for Saturday’s Columbia SC Marathon. But he’s still tired from the Little Rock Marathon he ran four days ago.
Now Forselius, who is from Ljusdal, Sweden, will take a bus from Little Rock, Ark.
Forselius, 44, is in the middle of a project he calls his “50 States Marathon Tour.” He plans to have completed a marathon in all 50 states by the end of the year – and ride his bike between as many races as he can.
“This is my sixth bicycle ride across the United States and I can’t get enough of this beautiful country,” said Forselius, who writes for the Swedish edition of Runner’s World magazine. “The American marathons are all extremely well-organized and I meet old and new running friends in almost every race.”
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The tour started in April 2011 with the Boston Marathon and will finish with the Rock n’ Roll St. Louis Marathon in October. After that, Forselius said he will continue to run in the U.S. until the Philadelphia Marathon in November before flying to Europe to run more marathons.
Columbia will be the 26th marathon stop for Forselius, who has ridden through the state before.
“I was riding (a) bicycle through South Carolina two years ago and had a blast,” Forselius said. “I always get impressed of the capital buildings. We don’t have them back in Sweden.”
Forselius runs all of his races for charity. He belongs to a group of 12 runners called the Dedicated Dozen. Each member runs at least one race a month to raise money for a combined 12 charities. Forselius runs for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, which helps children and young adults with fundraising and support for organ transplants.
The reason he runs for COTA, Forselius said, is for a boy named Alex Blackburn. Forselius met Blackburn’s mother in 2008, and she told him about her son who passed away at 12. It was his last wish to have his ashes spread all over the world. Forselius has made it his mission to fulfill that request and he carries Blackburn’s ashes with him while he runs and bikes.
“Sometimes I open his box so he can see all the beauty in this world,” Forselius said. “Sometimes the wind takes some of his ashes.”
Forselius said he has told Blackburn about all the beautiful women in South Carolina.
“I got (Blackburn’s) ashes when I was riding in Athens, Greece (a tour consisting of 15,000 miles on the bike and six marathons),” he said. “I was supposed to quit traveling with the bicycle after that – I had a girlfriend then – and said, ‘From now on, I’ll live a normal life.’ But because I got his ashes, I said bye-bye to girlfriend.
“Maybe I’ll find my wife in South Carolina.”