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This is one ‘stately’ way to stay in shape

Albuquerque resident Tara Durso rides during a recent trip to Idaho. (Courtesy of Tara Durso)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Being in lockdown has given people the opportunity to complete those “someday” projects.

Across social media and other spaces, people have joked about how hard it is to stay motivated while working – and playing – from home.

Albuquerque resident Tara Durso has found an innovative way to avoid the inertia that being stuck at home can cause.

The 39-year-old decided she was going to bike or run 50 routes, mostly around Albuquerque – each in the shape of a state. Durso said that when it comes to exercise, she lacks motivation, so she needs a little push.

“I wanted and needed creative motivation,” she said. “I’m a creative person, and to be motivated to do things, it has to be creative somehow.”

She’s done 14 states: New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Montana, Tennessee, New York, Nebraska, Nevada, California, West Virginia and Hawaii, which was the most difficult and took three tries before she got the proper shape.

Durso works as the production services manager and head electrician at Popejoy Hall and has been working from home. She began exercising in earnest in 2012 after participating in an obstacle course race.

She moved to bicycling and eventually triathlons with the encouragement of her husband, an emergency room doctor. The couple completed a 100-mile bike ride in Boulder, Colorado, four years ago.

The pandemic, she said, freed up more time to focus on some exercise goals she’s had in the back of her mind.

Tara Durso has ridden 14 routes in the shape of states. She wants to complete all 50.

“The whole reason I decided to do the state (of New Mexico) was to train for a half-marathon,” she said. “But that didn’t happen. I ended up doing a 10K instead.”

But inspiration to complete all the states remains.

Durso said the first step is sitting at her computer and staring at a map of Albuquerque, trying to envision the routes she might take and the shapes they will make.

The next step is to use an app to map her ride or run. She runs on routes that are 4 miles or less, and she will hop on her bike for the longer attempts.

“It usually takes me five tries mapping it out before I get it right,” she said, “unless it’s a really simple state like Colorado.”

On the day of her ride or run, she writes the directions on her body with a black permanent marker so she’s not distracted by looking at her phone. She starts on her left arm, moves to her right arm and even writes on her legs if it’s a particularly complicated route.

She uses another app to record her runs and rides and then posts the finished routes on social media.

New Mexico, she said, was naturally her first try. Her most recent was West Virginia, which she did while visiting her husband, who is working in an ER hospital in Idaho.

She doesn’t have a method for choosing which state she will do next. She said it’s random, and some are based on requests from friends, others on her ability to see its shape on a map.

She selects some based on what’s going on in the world.

She chose to do Georgia, she said, in support of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was pursued, confronted, detained and then killed by two white men while he jogged through a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, earlier this year. Across the country, people organized virtual 5K runs in support of Arbery.

Wanting a new challenge, she recently decided to trace Hawaii, with its several islands. She had to do the 28-mile ride three times before she took the right route. Once she took a wrong turn, and another time she skipped an entire group of directions.

“I forgot I wrote on my right arm,” she said. “I went the wrong way. I missed a whole island.”

Durso said she completes a few routes a week and plans to continue until she does all 50 states.

UpFront is a regular Journal news and opinion column. Comment directly to Journal staff writer Elaine D. Briseño at


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