Triathlete Near Completing 50 Triathlons In 50 States

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  • Published Nov 25, 2013
  • Updated Feb 9, 2014 at 10:43 PM UTC

Jenn Sommermann marks the last of 50 triathlons in 50 states at Lavaman Keauhou 2013.

Jenn Sommermann hoped 50 and 50 would add up to 100,000.

Earlier this fall, the 100,000 part became a reality, but she’ll have to wait until Sunday’s Lavaman Keauhou triathlon to finish to 50 part.

Seven years ago, Sommermann was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer and was determined to beat it. After surgery and six months of chemotherapy, the New York massage therapist and weekend triathlete set another goal: complete 50 triathlons in 50 states before she turned 50 and raise $100,000 for ovarian cancer research.

Lavaman will be Sommerman’s final triathlon in her personal crusade and she already has topped the $100,000 fundraising goal.

Currently standing at slightly more than $107,000, the coffers are still open for donations and Sommermann is grateful for every penny.

“It was back in September at a kickball tournament some organized to raise money. When we added it all up and realized I’d made my goal, that was one of the few times I cried,” she said. “It’s all from the kindness of strangers. Strangers throwing money into a hat they passed around, children giving me handfuls of change and people literally busting their piggy banks.”

As Sommermann ticked off the races and states, she didn’t plan too far ahead until recently.

“Lavaman will be about my 80th triathlon. The last three states were South Dakota, Wyoming and Hawaii,” she said. “Making Hawaii the last one was very intentional. It seemed like the obvious choice.”

Although she has no desire to compete in the Ironman World Championship, Sommermann said any race in Hawaii piques a triathlete’s interest.

“It’s the mecca. You can’t help but think about all the greats who have come before you and raced here,” she said. “I didn’t start until I was about 40 and I didn’t even know I was competitive, but I am fiercely competitive. Triathlon is a way of life and I am so ridiculously addicted.”

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