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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Come Sunday morning, organizers are expecting more than 31,000 runners at the Honolulu marathon. In that crowd, a Minnesota man will, appropriately, be running his 50th marathon in the 50th state.
But Hawaii News Now found out: there's much more to his story.
Don Wright has had plenty of practice crossing the finish line. This Sunday, he'll have run a 26.2 mile marathon in every state in the nation.
"That's pretty. I can't wait 'til I'm running under that!" says Wright – as he looks at the finish line sign that's not even hung up yet.
At age 71, not many people can say they've finished one marathon - let alone 50. It's pretty impressive for a guy who just picked up running decade ago.
"It doesn't matter to me how long it takes," says Wright. "I'm going to take it easy to make sure I finish. This is the 50th state, and I want to finish it!"
Age is the least of his challenges. The St. Paul-area man was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – a blood cancer that affects cells in bone marrow. He was given about five years to live – that was nine years ago.
Running became his path to survival.
"It gives me a chance to make a point that people who have cancer can still have active, vital lives," he says.
When Wright crosses the finish line on Sunday, he figures he will have logged 12,000, maybe 13,000, miles training and running these marathons.
Do the math. That's like running from one coast to another - Los Angeles to New York – almost five times! His last marathon was just five weeks ago, and in 2011, he ran more than one marathon a month.
"He's a runner, not a myeloma victim," says his wife, 73 year old, Ardis. The Wrights and their daughter often race with together.
He's stabilized on an investigative cancer drug called pomalidomide and needs no infusions or transplants. "We're free because all he has is that little pill bottle, and he takes one pill every night and we can go," says Ardis.
And go they do - successfully on the run from cancer.