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Retired police officer runs 50 marathons in 50 days to raise money for fallen colleague

Brett Sobieraski ran the distance of 50 marathons across eight states to honor fellow police officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, who was killed in the line of duty last year.

In an enormous feat, 57-year-old Brett Sobieraski has run 50 marathons in 50 days to honor the memory of his fallen colleague Anthony Mazurkiewicz and raise money for his family.

On July 21, 2022, 54-year-old police officer Anthony “Tony” Mazurkiewicz was killed in a shooting that also injured another officer and bystander. Mazurkiewicz was a 29-year-old veteran of the Rochester Police Department in Rochester, New York. He is survived by his wife, Lynn Mazurkiewicz, their four children, and three grandchildren.

Loved ones describe Mazurkiewicz as a "super dad," an exemplary employee, and the type of person everyone wanted to be around. "He was amazing," Lynn Mazurkiewicz told NBC News anchor Harry Smith in a TODAY show segment that aired July 20, 2023.

Anthony "Tony" Mazurkiewicz.
Anthony "Tony" Mazurkiewicz.Courtesy of Lynn Mazurkiewicz

Honoring a fallen colleague with a marathon a day

Earlier this spring, Mazurkiewicz's former colleague Sgt. Brett Sobieraski decided to honor his fallen colleague and raise money for his family by doing what seemed like the impossible: running one marathon a day for almost two months along the east coast.

Sobieraski is a 57-year-old retired sergeant on the Rochester Police Department's SWAT team who currently lives in Rochester, New York and enjoys spending his days of retirement doing ultra-marathons and other endurance sports. Several months after Tony Mazurkiewicz was killed, Sobieraski decided to take action.

"I knew I wanted to do something and it just came to me in the middle of the night ... that I’m going to run marathons through eight states," Sobieraski tells "Tony worked in the elite tactical unit within Rochester Police Department and their number designator is eight," says Sobieraski, explaining his decision to run the marathons through eight states.

Prior to this, Tony's wife had never met Sobieraski, but she had heard about him from her husband. “Tony would say that guy (Brett) is crazy and he’d tell me stories about what Brett was doing after he retired ... (like) Brett is swimming across Lake Ontario,” Lynn Mazurkiewicz said. “He’s the kindest man, genuinely. But he’s crazy ... Nobody does that,” she said of Sobieraski's marathon journey.

"I wanted to bring attention to his sacrifice as well as provide support for the family ... mostly financial, but emotional support also," Sobieraski explains.

Brett Sobieraski running.
Brett Sobieraski running.Courtesy Brett Sobieraski

In April, Sobieraski packed up an RV that he would sleep in during nights on the road and headed south. “I started in Florida ... and then I ran through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and then I finished in Rochester, New York,” Sobieraski says. In total, he ran 1,310 miles.

Sobieraski started his marathon journey on April 23 and finished on June 11. "It ended up being 50 consecutive marathons every day, each 26.2 miles," says Sobieraski. He continues, “I would finish in one spot and the next day I would start from the finishing point of the day before." Sobieraski says he went through four and a half pairs of tennis shoes in the process.

Despite his ultra-marathoner status, Sobieraski says he was never particularly athletic, especially when he was younger. "I smoked for 16 years — a couple of packs of cigarettes a day — and I was in very poor health," says Sobieraski.

Inspired by his children, Sobieraski says he decided to quit smoking at age 36 and start improving his physical health. "I very, very slowly got into the endurance sports but before I knew it, I had gotten into ultra marathons and running 100-mile races," Sobieraski adds.

The 32-year police veteran credits his commitment to achieving personal greatness, instead of comparing himself to others, for keeping him motivated and committed to endurance sports for the last 20 or so years.

Brett Sobieraski pictured with members of the Mazurkiewicz family.
Brett Sobieraski pictured with members of the Mazurkiewicz family.Courtesy Lynn Mazurkiewicz

Finding the motivation to run 26.2 miles a day

The 50-marathon journey had its ups and downs, Sobieraski explains. "Some nights I went to bed and I wasn't sure how I was going to run the next day ... but I knew I could never quit, quitting was never an option," he said.

Sobieraski says he kept a photo of Tony Mazurkiewicz taped to the wall of his RV, which was the first thing he saw every day. "That really helped get me out of bed in the morning when my body didn't necessarily want to get out of bed," Sobieraski explains. He also credits Tony's widow for keeping him on track. "She would text me dad jokes every morning just to keep my spirits high," Sobieraski adds.

The kindness and generosity of many people he met along the way was another major motivator, says Sobieraski. "I saw the fabric of America and it was absolutely beautiful," he adds.

Recounting stories of people who donated along the way, Sobieraski highlights one in particular that stuck in his mind. "There was a waitress in Elkins, Virginia ... she was actually the waitress, the owner, and the cashier of this all-you-can-eat buffet ... and when she asked us what we were doing there and I told her, she gave us all the tips she had earned that day," says Sobieraski.

"It was incredible, that people gave me the last dollars out of their pockets to give to the family,” he adds.

Although the marathons felt like "treading water" in the beginning, says Sobieraski, after a few weeks he began to feel better mentally and physically. "Then I actually started getting stronger and I recorded my fastest times during the last two weeks of those 50 days that I ran," he explains.

Brett Sobieraski running his 50th marathon in Rochester, New York
Brett Sobieraski running his 50th marathon in Rochester, New YorkCourtesy of Brett Sobieraski

During his 50th and final marathon, which ended back in Rochester, Sobieraski asked people to run with him for the final few miles to join in honoring Mazurkiewicz and show support for his loved ones. “I promised his wife (Lynn) I was going to show her an army of support on that last day, I hoped for 500 people and over 900 people signed up and ran the last three miles,” says Sobieraski.

During his marathon journey, Sobieraski says he ended up raising over $105,000 total for the Mazurkiewicz family. “I think what Brett’s doing is incredible,” said Lynn Mazurkiewicz, adding that at her request, Sobieraski also left a blue heart-shaped rock in every state he’s run in. “I said I want a piece of our hearts left behind in every state,” she added.

As for Sobieraski, he says he is still experiencing waves of fatigue from the marathons, but misses the days of running for his fallen friend. "I just want to constantly honor Tony's sacrifice," he said.

“I love that he wants Tony’s memory to live on just like we do,” Mazurkiewicz said.