This 72- Year-Old Is the First American to Officially Run 2,000 Marathons
By Stacey Leasca December 18, 2017
Photo courtesy of Humana
Larry Macon is living proof that it’s never too late to pick up good habits—even if those habits start off as a lie.
You see, Macon, who is now a spry 72 years old, just completed his 2,000th marathon in December—a feat that no American runner has ever accomplished before, at least officially. Really, it was more like his 2010th, because according to Macon, he wanted to pad his numbers just to be sure. He completed this incredible feat at the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, with a time of 7:16:31.
Photo courtesy of Humana
He doesn’t run to beat a personal record, or even to beat a world record (though he’s done that more than once). Macon simply runs because he loves it.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Macon was once was a 50-something lawyer living in Texas who spent more time working indoors than he ever did working out. When asked by his fellow lawyers how he spent his weekend, he decided to lie.
“Lawyers lie a lot,” Macon told Men’s Health with a laugh. He explained that after court sessions, he and his coworkers will often sit around and discuss the “great athletic events” they partook in over the weekend. One week, Macon said, everyone else had done something spectacular like biked 100 miles or swam for two miles, or even played 36 holes of golf. Somebody then asked, Hey Larry, what you did this weekend?
“I wasn’t going to admit I worked. That’s really not a manly thing to do,” Macon said. He glanced down at the newspaper, saw a story about an upcoming race, and replied, “I’m training for the marathon.”
Immediately after he said it, he regretted it. The marathon was just three weeks away, and he’d never run more than 10 miles in his entire life. Against the odds, the 52-year-old completed the marathon in just over 5 hours. After that, he was done with running forever—or so he thought. Because like most runners can tell you, once you catch that runner’s high, it’s hard to look back.
So Macon kept running, running, and running some more. He’s run through the four corners of the United States in 9-degree weather. (Here's all the gear you need for cold-weather running.) He’s completed a marathon in Las Vegas in sweltering 110-degree heat. He’s even run a race in North Dakota during a white out snow storm. Macon kept going through it all until one day, he beat his first world record completely by accident.
“There was a woman from Italy who ran 100,” Macon explained. “And nobody in the United States had done more than about 80 [in a year]. I thought, ‘hey I can do that.’” That year Macon did 105. Then he did 106, and just kept going.
One year, a hopeful young man from Austria came out in the hopes of besting Macon’s record. A reporter called Macon to verify the man’s claim, telling Macon the man had completed 110 marathons. When asked how many he had run, Macon calmly replied, “239.” He had actually run 255, though some of the races had not qualified as part of his record.
When Men’s Health asked about his training regime, Larry replied with another hearty Texas laugh, saying to this day there’s no real training involved in what he does. He simply runs.
“If you drag your body out on the racetrack, you're pretty good,” he explained.
His nutritional regime isn’t anything intense either, though he is an avid vegetarian. “I didn't do it for health reasons,” he said. “I don't like the way they treat animals.” But he does live by one very classic and time-tested nutritional tidbit: Drinking a chocolate milk after a race.
Beyond bringing a new world of athletic endeavors and a slew of records to his life, Macon explained that running has also brought him something much greater: a new perspective on the world.
“Running is a totally democratic effort,” he said. “You got all people of all stations in life of all ages of all races. I'm just an old white lawyer. I would have a limited exposure to the rest of the world no matter how hard I tried. But now every weekend I'm running out with all sorts of different people, people with points of views I would have never considered. It's just a wonderful experience.”
If you’re looking to be more like Macon, he said it’s rather easy. Simply enter a race with no time limit, enjoy it, take in the scenery, and never ever wear a watch. “All of a sudden you’ll be there,” he said. (Training for a marathon? Check out this tip.)
As for his next goal, Macon said he’s in for 2,000 more marathons. At this point, he’s in way too deep with his weekend warrior lie, and it would simply be “too embarrassing to quit.”