In the "Spotlight" with the amazing Kino from NYC!!!
Hello Yolanda and “The Road To Guinness” blog readers! First of all, I would like to start off with congratulating Miss Yolanda with her 303 completed marathons by 12/31/2011 & 352 marathons by 6/30/2012, qualifying her for the World Megamarathon Ranking 300+ list (http://www.worldmegamarathonranking.com/World_Megamarathon_Ranking/World_Ranking.html & http://www.worldmegamarathonranking.com/World_Megamarathon_Ranking/USA_Ranking.html)! Having attained the “megamarthoner” (anyone who has run 100 or more marathons or ultras) designation myself recently, I can appreciate the dedication, time commitment, and sacrifice required to make such a list. Yolanda is one of less than only approximately 300 people in the world who have finished 300+ marathons! She truly is deserving of the Yolanda “Guinness Record” Holder nickname that I refer to her by.
So as for my own personal story, how did I become hooked on marathon running?
(picture courtesy of Anders Forselius)
I ran my first marathon four years ago, on 9/21/2008, at a small one hundred person race called the Yonkers Marathon. It isn’t a well known race despite it being the second oldest marathon in existence. The 2012 version of the race was its 87th running of it! I ran this race out of convenience, as it was in the same town as my old company, Kawasaki. The 2008 Chicago Marathon was supposed to be my marathon debut because I was not accepted into my dream race, the New York City Marathon. A co-worker convinced me to run Yonkers as a “training run” for Chicago. The only problem was that the course is a very challenging one that immediately greets runners with a 5 mile uphill that has to be repeated again on the second half (it’s a two loop course). Not only that, but the course has a 5 hour cut-off, which is strict by marathon standards! I decided to go for it, figuring I didn’t have much to lose because my goal race was Chicago, and not Yonkers. Painful doesn’t come close to describing how miserable I felt on that second loop! My splits went from 2 hours for the first 13.1 miles then 3 hours for the back half. I finished in 5:00:15. I was very lucky that the race organizers were generous in letting me finish. Despite almost being cutoff and almost being the last finisher, I was instantly hooked on marathon running and went on to better my times at the 2008 Chicago Marathon (4:52:16) three weeks later, then again at the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon (4:39:42) six weeks after that.
Without my knowledge, running 3 marathons within 3 months qualified me for the Marathon Maniacs club. I would later find out about this club and join in 2/2009, becoming MM #1382. It is through this wonderful club and the 50 States Marathon Club that I would encounter fellow crazies and inspirational athletes like Yolanda and others!
Distance running appeals to me because it leads to a 26.2 mile path to self improvement. The definition of “improvement” has taken on different meanings at times, but the desire to strive hard and better myself has never changed. My initial goal, in 2008, was to keep improving my marathon times, which I was able to do by PR’ing my first 5 marathons. Then in 2009, I wanted to use marathons as an excuse to explore the world and visit as many of the 50 states as I could (I am currently 3 states away from completing this goal, 4 years later, and expect to finish at the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii on 12/9/2012). In 2010, I wanted to be able to run further and completed my ultramarathon goals of finishing my first 100 miler (in 28:23:21 at Javelina Jundred aka JJ100 in Arizona on 10/23/2010) and running 100 miles in a 24 hour race (102.89 miles at FANS 24 Hour Run in Minnesota on 6/4/2011). In 2011, I wanted to become a prolific runner and attain the highest level within the Marathon Maniacs, the 10-star Titanium level. I accomplished this on 9/17/2011 at the NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run in Ohio, by finishing marathons or ultras in 30 states/provinces/countries in a 365 day period. In 2012, I continued this goal and ran my 100th marathon / ultra, on 6/3/2012 at Comrades Marathon (56 mile ultra) in South Africa. It was my favorite race experience to date. Those South Africans sure know how to make foreign runners feel welcome! This ultra finish allowed me to join the 100 Marathon Club North America and the Full Hyaku Club. Currently, I am focusing on trying to become a 50sub4 Club finisher by running a sub-4 hour marathon in all 5 states. As of the time of this writing (9/28/2012), I have run sub-4’s in 35 states, and hope to finish 50sub4 in 2013. I am concurrently trying to lower my PR time to be fast enough to BQ (qualify for Boston, “Boston Qualify”). To do that I must drop my PR time down by 9 minutes 13 seconds, from a 3:19:12 to 3:09:59, which is a little over 21 seconds/mile faster, for a 7:15 min/mile pace. This sounds tough, but at least it keeps things interesting by giving me something to shoot for.
Along the way, something dreadful occurred, inspiring me to run more often. In 1/2009, my then girlfriend’s mother was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. It was the same disease that took away my beloved uncle from this world six years prior, and has needlessly taken away the lives of too many others. My girlfriend-at-the-time and I began volunteering for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN, http://www.pancan.org) and we raised awareness and funding for the charity for an upcoming team relay. The fundraiser was so successful, raising over $26,000, that it made me realize the power of running and its ability to bring attention to underrepresented causes that are in dire need of help. My first fundraiser campaign was for PanCAN, in which I ran 14 marathons in 13 consecutive weekends. I only intended to run 5 marathons in 5 states in 5 weekends, but the support I received was tremendous and I could not let the fundraiser end so quickly. I have since gone on to raise funding and awareness for 3 other charities: Back on My Feet (BoMF) to combat homelessness in our inner cities, the American Cancer Society (ACS), and Mount Sinai Medical Center’s WTC Health Program to provide free medical screenings and treatment to 9/11 First Responder veterans. I have raised over $60,000 so far, but I aspire to continue using running as a vehicle to help out the smaller charities and the causes they represent. If you would like to learn more about my efforts, please visit RunKino on Facebook, Twitter, & RunKino.com .
Thank you very much for your time in reading this post and learning about my running career, aspirations, and fundraisers!
WTC Health Program Fundraiser: https://philanthropy.mountsinai.org/kino
PanCAN Charity Fundraiser: http://tinyurl.com/runkinopancan
Back on My Feet NYC Launch Fundraiser: http://tinyurl.com/runkinobomfnyc
Strength in Running,