Jonathan and Mary Maguire at the Hapalua Half-Marathon | Photo: Courtesy

Outdoorsiness runs through the veins of many Santa Barbarians, but for Mary and Jonathan Maguire — Mary is John’s mother — it runs particularly strong through their family tree. The duo have each completed their own respective walking and hiking challenges: Mary has done a half-marathon in each of the 50 states, and Jonathan has ascended five Santa Barbara peaks to complete Santa Barbara Trails’ Five-Peaks Challenge, taking it up a notch by hiking all of the same peaks in the same day.

Mary Maguire is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and longtime walking enthusiast. In 2005, she was in Anchorage, Alaska, waiting for a marathon to get underway, when she heard something that gave her a new goal.

“When we were waiting for that event to start, we were talking with a fellow who said, ‘I’m doing my 50th state marathon,’” Mary said. “For me that just set off, ‘Oh, that’s what I want to do. But not full marathons. I just want to do half-marathons.’”

With a full-time job and quite a few grandchildren growing up, it wasn’t the right time for her to go full-throttle on this quest, but Mary gradually began to prioritize her half-marathoning, ramping things up as she retired from working in 2022. Each time she does a half-marathon, she walks it, typically completing a race in three and a half to four hours.

A wall full of medals for the Maguires | Photo: Courtesy

Having already done many half-marathons in California and the one in Alaska, Mary found herself visiting her son Jonathan and his young son in Connecticut, where she completed her next half, the first one since she decided to undertake the challenge of doing one in every state. According to Mary, the challenge has no set rules, but there are clubs for those dedicated to completing both half- and full marathons in every state. She kept track of her half-marathons on a T-shirt from the Fifty States Half-Marathon Club, which features an outline of the United States for challengers to color in as they complete half marathons. Mary’s is now fully inked in, complete with a dot in the spot of each city where she raced.

“What I’ve learned is that the whole country is just gorgeous. And I loved being in all the environments and all the states,” Mary said. “When I would go to these places, I’d seek out national parks and go hiking, and state parks, and just try to see the sights in that particular area. I still think about a lot of those places with fond memories.”

The final state Mary needed to complete a half marathon was Hawai’i, so in April 2024, she and her family headed to Oahu, where she completed the last race of the challenge in Waikiki. With much of her family by her side, including Jonathan, Mary earned the last medal needed to complete the challenge she had begun nearly 20 years earlier.

The 73-year-old focused on completion every time she undertook a race, unbothered with competition or timing.

Mary Maguire’s T-shirt, with all of the states she’s competed in colored in. | Photo: Courtesy

“Sometimes I would come in last in the race, but first in my age group, because I was the only one in my age group competing. And none of that bothers me. I just wanted to complete the course. Get my medal,” she said.

Throughout the process, Mary had challenging moments — a particularly hilly course in Escalante, Utah, where she had to trudge uphill, and a downpour during her race in Chicago stood out in toughness. Having her whole family with her as she completed her last half-marathon in Hawai’i, alongside each time her grandchildren joined her for a race, were some of the best moments of the challenge, she said.

Mary’s son, Jonathan Maguire, a 52-year-old avid Santa Barbara hiker, has completed a challenge of his own with the Five-Peaks Challenge. Put on by Santa Barbara Trails, this challenge required participants to complete five of 10 listed peaks in Santa Barbara. But Jonathan took the challenge to the next level, completing all of the peaks in one day and going for six instead of the required five.

Jonathan Maguire’s 5 Peaks Challenge verification | Photo: Courtesy

“With my mom’s challenge, it was on the order of 20 years or so. I was much more impatient. I did mine in one day,” he laughed.

Jonathan completed Arlington, Cathedral, La Cumbre, White Mountain, Flores, and Montecito peaks. While White Mountain Peak was not on the challenge list, Jonathan added it in to make the hike flow well. With a love for hikes in spots such as Mission Canyon, taking on this challenge was a reflection of Jonathan’s dedication to the Santa Barbara hiking scene.

Of raising her other children with a love for the outdoors, Mary said it came from her own hiking-centric upbringing.

“I grew up going to Yosemite every summer with my parents, and my dad loved the outdoors. We hiked a lot in Yosemite, mostly just day hikes. But that created a love of nature and hiking and national parks for me,” she said. “And then when I had children, I did the same thing. I would take them to national parks, many national parks, and we would go hiking.”

Jonathan has taken this philosophy up as he raises his son, who has accompanied him on many hikes, continuing the family’s propensity for hiking and walking.

“It’s always been a part of my life. So it’s always been a part of his life as well. And I’m glad to see that, see that he continues to be interested in [hiking] even when he doesn’t have to be,” Jonathan said. Perhaps a third generation of challengers is on the way.

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