Back in my university days in the early 1990’s, to become a member of “The Century Club” you had to drink one shot glass of beer every minute for 100 minutes. To beer lovers unfamiliar with this silly college badge of honor, the challenge probably doesn’t seem that daunting. Well, it amounts to about seven beers in a little over an hour and a half. Depending on your school/fraternity/residence/major, a variety of other rules come into play. For instance, when I (successfully) attempted to become a member, we were not permitted to stand, leave the room, pee or puke during the entire 100 minutes. Failure to abide by these rules promptly disqualified you from the fun!
Fast forward over two decades and I am proud to have become a member of an entirely different Century Club. On November 16th, 2014 as I crossed the finish line of the Penang Bridge International Marathon in Malaysia, I completed my 100th race of marathon distance or longer! Details of that race will follow in a future post.
The Century Club by the numbers:
-1st: Sulphur Springs 50K, Dundas ON, May 2000
-25th: Bull Run Run 50-miler: Mannassas VI, April 2005
-50th: Disney Marathon (part of The Goofy Challenge), Orlando FL, January 2009
-100th: Penang Bridge Marathon, Penang, Malaysia, November 2014
Marathons = 22
50Km’s = 34
50 Milers = 18
100 Km’s = 3
100 Milers = 10
Other = 13. (includes timed events and races of untraditional distances greater than 42,2Km’s)
28 US States, 2 Canadian provinces & 1 territory, 3 countries, 2 continents
1. Volcano Marathon, Volcano National Park HI, July 2006: After over 30 ultras, this was my first marathon. Run on a variety of terrain from desert to lava fields and even rain-forests….and heck, it was in Hawaii! What more can I say!? Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the race no longer exists.
2. Pikes Peak Marathon, Manitou Springs CO, August 2011 & 2012: Running to the summit of a 14,000 foot mountain is quite spectacular and difficult to put into words. If I could, I would run this race every year.
3. Mohican, Loudonville OH, June 2003: My first exposure to 100-milers was in the Mohican State Park and it was the site of my first finish at that distance. For some reason I am drawn back to Central Ohio year after year. I’ve been there: 2 X 100-miler; 5 X 50-miler; 4 X pacer/crew since 2000.
4. Yukon Trail Marathon, Whitehorse NWT, August 2010: Not many pre-race final instructions give you advice on what to do if you encounter a black bear versus a grizzly bear! Also, post-race dip in the clear and chilly waters of the Yukon River was beyond refreshing.
5. Miwok 100K, Sausalito CA, May 2009: Runners start on Stenson Beach north of beautiful San Francisco. A few miles of uphill running later and you are looking down at the Golden Gate Bridge. Ocean views (if there is no fog), giant redwoods and an elite field makes this a must-do for all ultra runners.
In conclusion, my feat (or feet??) isn’t that extraordinary. The 50-States Marathon Club publishes its newsletter four times a year. Each issue announces new 50-States finishers (those who have completed a marathon/ultra in all 50 States). Every issue lists dozens of new 50-States finishers, and several who have done so 5, 10, even 15 times! Ontario’s own septuagenarian, Joe Cleary, is well over the 500 mark and still runs 20-30 marathons each year. Local legend Monica Scholtz has 117 X 100-mile finishes to her credit. Another Canadian, Don McNealy, has run over 1000 marathons with nearly 400 of those after he had turned 80 years old. Finally, there are certainly countless runners everywhere who are well over the century mark and still going strong. But looking back in that dorm room circa 1990 during my inaugural Century Club attempt, if I had declared that one day I will have run 100 marathons, my friends would have certainly laughed uncontrollably and all would have agreed that that was definitely the booze talking! Number 101 is set for January 25th, 2015 in Khon Kaen, Thailand.
Footnote: Had the “no puking rule” been implemented for my marathon Century Club, I would have been disqualified dozens of times!