Here’s a spotlight that may get you off the couch and inspire you to make some kind of exercise regimen resolution for 2013. Buffalo Grove resident Mark Stone is attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states. It’s an inspirational goal but I learned that this is perhaps a common goal in the life of a marathoner.
Until 2004, Mark ran local 5K and 10K races. He was inspired to marathon by a longtime friend, also from Buffalo Grove, Michael Berger. Michael had been injured in 2003 but was still able to participate in the Chicago Marathon. To show support; Mark, his wife Alyse and their kids cheered in support of Michael along the marathon route.
Mark says, “For most people, it would seem a bit hard to understand how watching thousands of people run could be exciting, but it truly was. That's when I caught the running bug.” I totally understand the excitement of being a spectator. As a young girl, my parents took us kids to the Marine Corps marathon in Washington, D.C. I can still recall that incredibly awe-inspiring day; watching runners support each other, push their physicality and cross that finish line was an amazing memory that still lives clearly in my dusty brain.
Mark prepared for his first race with an 18-week training program that is common practice in preparation for a marathon. His wife was training with a friend to walk and or run in a marathon, with no more than a 13-mile run in her pocket as race preparation. Sadly, that first Chicago marathon in 2004 did not give Mark the results he wished for.
He says, “My wife ran the whole thing and beat me by a landslide. I think my 50-state endeavor began with my disappointment in my finish and I wanted to try again before the following fall season.”
He found a race in New Orleans, Lousiana and began his training for it. From there he was lucky enough to win a spot, by lottery, to run in the infamous New York Marathon.
“I got lucky with receiving an entry my first try since it can take several attempts. It's not done on merit, just luck. I ran that one November, 2005 and although it was the most difficult of the three I had done at that point, it was by far the most incredible one that I have run to date. You start off in Staten Island, run over the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, and then run through Queens, the Bronx and finish in Manhattan-Central Park. It's the only one I would like to do again.”
Mark soon realized that marathons in different states offered him the opportunity to travel to places he would otherwise probably never visit.
To date, he’s run marathons in the following states: Florida, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, New York and Illinois.
I’m exhausted just thinking about running on the treadmill, let alone one marathon or 20!
Mark says, “I have completed 24 marathons (four in Illinois) and 20 states (although I was unable to finish the race in St. Louis since they called it off in the middle due to the heat). This, of course, would have to be my worst marathon since you never want to come back home without a finish.”
Mark turns the big 5-0 next year but to date is injury free and says he can run about four to six marathons a year.
“I train with a couple of friends that travel with me to the marathons. They are all faster runners than me, so we start together and split off during the race. All in all, the whole process of building up to being able to run the distances we run is the most rewarding, especially when you first start training. Most people never believe they could accomplish something like a marathon, but, year after year, I hear more and more people attempt the goal with great success.”
It seems that Mark’s family and friends are incredibly supportive of him. He says, “The 50 state thing is a goal, it's like the carrot in front of the horse. It keeps me motivated. I really enjoy the time training with my friends, and my kids promised that if I can't complete all 50 states, they would run the rest.” Alyse continues to run in marathons as well and has 11 under her belt to date.
In the spirit of Forrest Gump, I’ll just state, “Run, Mark, Run!”
Please email me if you know someone who should be in the spotlight. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.