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Colorado mom runs marathon in all 50 states before 50th birthday

Highlands Ranch native Kimberly Bradley is scheduled to complete her 50th marathon in Hawaii later this month, to cap off her 55th total run.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The journey to 1,310 miles, started with a single step.

"I just wanted to say that I had run a marathon," Kimberly Bradley said. "I never ran. I just started and I didn't stop."

Bradley, a mom from Highland's Ranch, ran her first marathon in the Rock N' Roll marathon in her own home city of Denver. Shortly after the feeling of never wanting to run again, she was hooked. Bradley immediately signed up for her second run in Minnesota, where she has some family.

Little by little, year by year, she checked off state by state. What started on a whim in 2011, morphed into a mantra: 50 by 50.

"I'm about to run a marathon in my 50th state. My 54th marathon in my 50th state," Bradley said. "When I realized that I was turning 50 and I was getting closer to my goal of running a marathon in 50 states, it just became '50 by 50.'" 

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It led Bradley to some milestone moments.

"I loved New York. I loved finishing in Central Park. I ran Boston the year after the bombing. I ran the year before the bombing and the year after the bombing, and the year after the bombing is something I will never forget," she said. "Running my last 49th in Maryland was very emotional, realizing that it was it before I go to Hawaii."

Bradley couldn't do 50 by 50 alone. Her favorite marathons were mostly marked by the people waiting at the finish line.

"The ones where my mom is with me and my kids are with me, the ones where I've won, are all very sentimental."

Her mom, Susan Kane, has stood by her side through 34 races. Bradley said her support means everything.

"She's there in the freezing cold, she's there in the hot, she's there at 4:00 in the morning to get me to the start line. She's always cheering me on," Bradley said. "She's my biggest advocate and my biggest cheerleader."

Her mother said she scopes out each of the locations before every race, giving tips, advice, and of course, support.

"The greatest job I've had in my life is being a mother and it comes really naturally for me to want to be there to support her and want to be there to encourage her," she said. "It warms my heart."

Kane stood alongside her daughter as they flipped through race bibs, reminiscing about the little moments throughout their journey.

"I'm probably going to be almost as excited as she is because the journey for both of us was incredible and I'll never forget it."

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When Bradley checks the final box in Maui, the decade-long mission will be complete. But she will be thinking about what the entire journey taught her along the way.

"I can't believe that I was the one that did all of that because I don't think of myself as a runner. I'm just a mom here in Highlands Ranch," she said. "I would've never believed for a minute that I could do this, but I think that shows the power of determination."

And when she crosses the finish line, it'll be a full house in Hawaii to receive the newly 50-year-old into the new phase of her life. All of Bradley's family, friends, and even co-workers are joining her to close the book on her marathon journal.

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