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October 14, 2013 - John Stack
I ran the GMAA marathon in South hero yesterday. I hadn't thought much of it. I trained, but not like amaniac. I was more excited that I had a bunch of friends racing also - Bill, Wes, Phil, Beth, Darci, Andy, DJ and Billy and it was a beautiful course. But, nothing ever goes to plan.
Billy was injured and couldn't run. Beth had to cut back to the half marathon. All of us had our slowest marathons ever. Some of us had even run our marathon portion of the Ironman faster! Except for the obligatory pain and suffering afterwards, it was all good.
On the ferry ride over to South Hero, I should have guessed something was up. Waiting, I could tell some of the other cars (turns out most) were headed to the race also. In the front seat, Phil and I were wearing our North Elba half shirts, and they stand out. Some guy gets out of his car, seemingly serious looking, and comes to my window. Kathy says "John! John! - that guy wants to tell you something!" Before i can roll down the window, this stranger (who I met later) bursts into a smile and pulls up his jacket to reveal a North Elba half shirt! Ahhh runners. How do you not enjoy that. Kathy, who moved up here a couple years ago, spent the prior 20 years in new Jersey. No, that would never happen in Jersey.
The race was fine, but very windy. I ran with Phil and Wes to the turnaround. Everyone we passed, Wes made sure they knew he had run Ironman (He wore a finisher shirt). People would congratulate him. As had also finished an Ironman (to 4 of his) plenty of trash talking and talk of insecurity issues ensued. We were all put in our place pretty soon.
We caught up to a girl who happened to be a dentist from Florida. And, ya know, almost incidentally, had also ran a marathon in each of the 50 states, and was on her 2nd loop. Turns out, the guy she was running with was also a 50 stater. there were a bunch in the race. Huh. Our accomplishments now seemed trivial. But, no, they were just amateurs.
"You know that guy in the red shirt you guys just passed?". Yeah. Tall thin guy who looks in his 50s I thought. "He has done 1,000 marathons". A THOUSAND. I'm thinking, no way. That's just impossible. he's pulling her leg". "And he's 72 years old" she adds. At the next water station, we are running and talking with Jim. Wes is no longer talking about his Ironmans, and I'm not reminding people I have run one too. We all talk. Like going to the mountain and talking to the oracle. Yeah, he his 1000 marathons in january, and his friend/rival hit 1,000 a month later. This was his - and this is no BS - is his 135th marathon of the year. he ran Baltimore the day before, drove his Winnebago up last night (10 hour drive) and arrived at 2 AM for the race. he was headed to Mass the next day for a marathon there. Uh huh. Oh wise one, what is the meaning of life? his friend had set the world record doing 154 marathons the year before. he wanted to match him, and was probably going to do even more. But, he wasn't set on a record. A guy from Australia (and his friend) were shooting for the record this year also, and Jim calmly expected them both to beat the record.
I did learn some things yesterday. There is obviously no age too old to run marathons. And, my goals for next year , specifically running (and finishing the actual course) the Wakely Ultra next year is not only attainable, but, after meeting these marathon maniacs, isn't even much of a pursuit....
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