Ashley Stump: the runner gunning for 50 marathons in 50 states

WE TALK to Ashley Stump about her love of running and her experiences of Ironman races and the Boston Marathon.

Boston Marathon

Ashley Stump started taken seriously after

ASHLEY STUMP was a competitive swimmer at college and it wasn’t until she graduated that she really caught the running bug. After being inspired to race by runners who were using swimming to enhance their training programmes she was hooked after her first 5k race.


The sport has led Ashley to compete in four Ironman races as well as the Boston Marathon. She religiously runs at least three times a week and often five if she isn’t training for a triathlon. Read on to hear about her ambition to run 50 marathons in 50 states as well as her aim to grace the streets of Boston in her running shoes once again. Most recently Ashley has finished sixth in her age group at Ironman Cattanooga.


When did you start taking running seriously and when was it you realised you had a real talent for the sport?


I started running in 2007. I was a four-year collegiate swimmer and once I graduated my options opened up. I swam with a master’s swimming programme for awhile and there were a lot of runners who were part of that group. Some were competitive swimmers and others were strictly runners who used swimming as cross training. I would talk to them about their upcoming races and I was intrigued. I decided to sign up for my first 5k. The Run for the Red located in Pennsylvania is a 5k race as well as a marathon. I ran the 5k and afterwards stuck around to watch the marathoners finished. Still, to this day, I remember thinking, “One day that will be me.”


Tell us about your experience of the three Ironmans you have competed in?


Ironman Lake Placid was my first Ironman. I did this race in 2014. It was an exciting experience because I had at least four other friends of mine competing and was great to share the experience and course with them! My one and only goal was to finish.


2014 was the year of the storm. I finished the swim and headed out onto the bike in pouring down rain, thunder and lightning. I found out after I finished that race officials were pulling people out of the water and not allowing them to complete the rest of the swim. I remember biking out of town and seeing lightning bolts as other cyclists flew by me. I thought, “I guess this is a normal thing to do on a day like this!” I was ecstatic with my performance and overall place in my age group. This race left me hungry for another!


Ironman Wisconsin 2015. Ironman # 2. I absolutely loved everything about this race from the venue to the course. I would go back to this race in a heart beat. The swim was a mass start at this time and I loved it. After the swim you get to run up a helix to T1. The helix is LINED with spectators. You are running uphill but definitely don’t notice because you feel like a total rock star. The bike course is gorgeous with plenty of hills. The run course goes through the college town. Spectators make this course. I had a huge PR of almost 45 minutes and placed well in my age group too.



Ironman Louisville 2016. Ironman #3. My experience on this course is one for the books. I left T1 pushing my bike by the saddle through an open field. Not thinking, my aero bottle was on my aero bars which made the front of my bike top heavy. I hit a bump in the field and lost control of my bike, the front end turned inwards, I tripped, my bike fell and I fell down on top of my bike and the big chain ring. At this point the transition area is lined with spectators who witnessed my fall and yelled, “OOOOHHHH!!!!” Embarrassing to say the least. As I got up and started running out of transition again, the spectators yelled and clapped, “YEAH!!!!” I got to the mount line and noticed that when I fell my chain popped. I fixed that and then hopped on my bike and it was then that I realised my right knee/quad was bleeding. Heavily. As I biked out of town I started to panic wondering if I was going to pass out from blood loss or bleed out completely. Anytime I got up out of my saddle to stretch my legs the wound ripped open more. Let’s just say my race photos were bloody. I completed the bike but was unsure if I was going to be able to run.


bike chain injury

Ashley’s bike chain injury from Ironman Louisville 2016.

I ran into T2 and tried to spend as little time in the changing tent as I could. I didn’t want the volunteers or race officials to notice the size of my war wound and risk the possibility of having to DNF. I got out onto the run course and to my surprise I ran just fine. However, the comments from spectators were priceless and kept me laughing and in good spirits. I finished with another PR of ten minutes from the year prior.


When I crossed the finish line I was scooped up by volunteers and escorted directly to the medical tent. They took a huge bag of saline solution and washed it out. No one could believe I managed to finish. Let’s just say that instead of a post race feast/party, I spent the night in a local ER receiving stitches. You know what they say: PR or ER? I say, BOTH!



Boston Marathon

Ashley has competed in three Ironman races as well as the Boston Marathon.

How did you finish in the Boston Marathon and what was that experience like?


The Boston Marathon was a HUGE accomplishment of mine in so many ways. I qualified at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2016. My BQ time is 3:35 and I ran a 3:32:36. I was unsure if that would be enough time in the bank to truly get accepted into Boston. I considered running another marathon and shooting for a 3:30 but figured I would leave it up to chance and when I got the letter of acceptance I was ecstatic!


Of course, I wanted my goal for Boston to be to run a 3:30 and to re-qualify for 2018. However, my training did not go as planned. I ended up with a hip injury and spent a lot of time cross training instead of running. I was able to manage the injury enough to get in an 18-mile training run and no more. So my first goal went out the window. I went to Boston with the mindset to just enjoy the experience and the course. I was unsure if I was even going to be able to complete the full 26.2 miles but decided to run with my heart.


Boston doesn’t disappoint. The entire 26.2 miles is lined with spectators from start to finish. There was never a point where I doubted myself or felt terrible. The crowds carried me through the course and my heart carried me home. There are just no words to describe how you feel when you make that right onto Hereford and then the left onto Boylston Street. Just thinking about it gives me chills and gets me choked up. It is truly the experience of a lifetime and I hope one day to go back and experience it all over again. This time healthy and with healthy training under my belt!



Ashley has just competed in her fourth Ironman and is currently running three to four times a week.

How often are you currently running and what races do you have lined up for the near future?


I will be racing Ironman Chattanooga in 13 days! This will be Ironman #4. I am unsure about any other races for the fall, it will all depend on my post Ironman recovery. I know that I will be pacing a local half marathon in November. The D&L Heritage Half Marathon. I am the 1:50 pacer.


Currently I am running three to four times a week. Ironman training requires training for three disciplines, so I have to make sure to manage swimming, biking and running equally. When I’m not triathlon training I will sometimes run five times a week but no more. My body benefits greatly from cross training.



Ashley is working towards running 50 marathons in 50 states.

What are your biggest long-term running goals and how do you plan to achieve them?


I am slowly working towards 50 marathons in 50 states! To date, I have completed a marathon in eight:  Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Wisconsin. As stated earlier, another goal is that I would like to return to Boston again for the marathon. This means many more miles, eating healthy, sleeping more and keeping a positive attitude!


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