Written by member Richard McGrath
I have had a lot of conversations in the AD. Many are just good old locker room banter, some are serious and some you just don’t know where they will take you. Late in 2008, Damo said to me “How about you do the New York marathon next year?” “Are you talking to me?” “Sure, you could run a marathon tomorrow”. That was the first time I had considered running 42.2 kilometres.
New York is a town I had visited half a dozen times before and felt that I had walked all over it. Well, Manhattan at least, of course, you go to the Bronx for the Yankees, and Brooklyn because it is cool, Queens is different, but why the hell would you go to Staten Island? For the start of the NYCM of course. What a race. Hated every step but loved every minute.
Somehow, I went back for 2010 and 11 and had just booked into the New York Athletic Club in 2012 to be told in the elevator that the marathon had been cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. I ran most of the course, anyway, finishing in Central Park where 15,000 others had decided to also run the distance in the park. In August 2013 I ran the Midnight Full Moon Extra-terrestrial Marathon at Area 51 in Nevada. As advertised it started at Midnight with a full moon at the black mailbox, which is white, and finished at The Little A’le’Inn. The course is on the Extra-terrestrial Highway through Coyote Pass. I was getting into this.
I think it was about this time that I started tossing around the idea of running a marathon in each of the 50 states of the USA. Hard to say exactly when but I must have had the thought at some stage as I knocked over Cape Cod for Massachusetts the week before the NYCM in November 2013 so this seems likely. As it happened, I was travelling to the USA a couple of times a year and it was pretty easy to fit a couple of marathons in along the way. On a number of trips of two weeks I could fit a marathon in on the weekends and by the start of Covid flew back to Sydney on 1 February 2020 with 31 states completed.
As a bloke who is not getting any younger, once the world opened up post-COVID, I thought I had better get these done. From April 2022 to July 2023, I managed to knock over the remaining 19 states plus fit in another NYM as well as Berlin.
Without a doubt, NY is my favourite marathon, but there are a couple of honourable mentions. My longest outing of around 9 hours in 30+ degrees with 2,800m of elevation was the Orcas Island Trail Marathon in Washington State. Spectacular and very tough-going. It had one of those moments when you are battling the demons pretty hard. For me, that was on the longest climb late in the day. Fortunately, the double marathon started at 05:30 and 8:00, so I was doing it tough when the leader of the double slipped past me. A minute or so later he came back to me and said the crest was 100 metres around the corner. What a champ, I went from out on my feet to fresh as a lettuce in three seconds and I made the cab I had booked for 17:00!
The US Marine Corps Marathon takes in a lot of DC monuments for a Virginian race. In West Virginia coal country there is ‘no feudin’, just running’ in the Hatfield McCoy Marathon. Down in Georgia, we chased Jefferson Davis. As it turned out California was number 50 in July this year, starting and finishing at the Embarcadero, while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge twice and taking in the Haight Ashbury.
There was road, trail, out and back, point to point. I ran in National and State parks, big cities and small towns. On the coast, in the desert and at 5,000 feet a few times. I ran the length of a canyon once. There was even a double half marathon (please tell me when you work that out).
Thanks to Damo, Artie and Tom Denniss for the advice, stretching (body and mind) and encouragement along the way.