The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

June 9, 2007

Local grad’s marathon task: A race in all 50 states

Michael Youchak’s legs can thank his eyes.

A little less than 26.2 miles away from hanging up the running shoes, Youchak and his buddy were in the Big Apple for the New York Marathon in 1998 when they noticed the shirts of some of the other runners proclaiming membership in the 50-state club.

“And the idea was born,” said Youchak, a former Moxham resident who graduated from Greater Johnstown in 1980.

Along with Mike Forbeck, Youchak is closing in on completing the 50 marathons in 50 states goal, yet the two have taken it even farther.

They will also have completed a marathon in the nation’s capital, giving them full status in the 50 States and D.C. Marathon Group.

But even that’s not enough.

When the idea was hatched, the pair gave themselves a deadline: Fifty marathons in 50 states before the age of 50.

Youchak, 44, and Forbeck, 49, who both reside in Pittsburgh, plan to take part in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon in Port Angeles, Wash., today, the final chapter in the country-wide effort.

But there is more to the pair than running. Youchak and his brother, Tom, have raised more than $250,000 while racing in Florida and Forbeck has raised more than $100,000 for charity.

Youchak lists the Leukemia Society and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary among his benefiting charities.

It’s been a long trek for Youchak, who got his start in running after graduating from Penn State in 1984.

While working in Johnstown for H.F. Lenz, Youchak and another friend, Earl Waddell, began racing the 10K (6.2 miles) circuit.

“The first time I ran, with Earl Waddell, he and I did a 10K, the Mercy Me, and that’s where it started. Mercy Hospital had a 10K race, and my first one was in 1986, with Earl.

“After that, Earl and I were running together and we got bored doing 10Ks because they were too short.”

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