SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — He’s run eight marathons, written more than 460 poems, and visited nearly every county in Iowa. And for each county he’s visited, he’s made it his mission to both run and write. But his journey isn’t over yet. In fact, Tyler Sullivan said it’s just getting started.
Ever since middle school, Tyler Sullivan has loved to run, but it wasn’t until years later that he discovered, he too, has a passion for adventure.
“Back in 2015, I had a girlfriend who lived in Mason City, and I would travel that way every other Friday after work,” Sullivan said. “And I was going through counties I had never heard of before like Chickasaw, Bremer, and I began to wonder, there has to be something special about these counties.”
It was then, Sullivan decided, he would create a map of each place he wanted to see.
“And then I had a friend, he said, ‘Have you ever thought about running in these cities?’ And I go, ‘Jay, there’s no way I can run in these towns with 200 people. I’m a marathon runner.'”Sullivan said. “He’s like, ‘You don’t have to go far. You can run at least a mile, and the other ones you can run more.'”
So far, Sullivan has been to 94 out of 99 Iowa counties, and he’s run in 1,144 cities, snapping a picture and updating his large Facebook following of his journey each time.
“Yeah, I just love finding a hidden gem in every single community, whether it’s in Hornick with the train depot or Smithland, they had the first schoolhouse in Woodbury County. It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years because I don’t want this to end. I got probably two more years and roughly 60 cities left to run through, but I’m taking my time,” Sullivan said.
And if his ‘track record’ isn’t impressive enough, Sullivan is also a poet and an author, so, when a mentor of his asked if he would be interested in writing poems on each of the counties.
“I go, ‘Now that sounds like fun.’ I’ve already self-published two books.”
He credits his mentor for the creative idea, but says, how he stays motivated is largely thanks to his high school track coach.
“He never cared about the winning, he never cared about the losing; it was about giving your best every single day, and that’s what I do for these communities. It doesn’t matter if you’re Sioux City, super large with 80,00 people, or you’re a very small town like Climbing Hill or Luton; I go there and I run at least a mile because I cherish every moment. Because like I said, I find that hidden gem in every single community.”
Every place he visits, he encourages the community to join in.
“I’ll go their pace. It’s not about trying to keep up with me. It’s more about me meeting people and hearing your story, because we can learn together.”
Sullivan will be running his ninth marathon in Sioux City Sunday morning.