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Adding up the mega miles

It was my second run of the day and frankly, the thought that this was a bit freakish entered my mind. Normally I don't run twice in one day, but life circumstances had me miss a run earlier in the week. With warm, sunny weather for November in Buffalo, I figured why not sneak in the easy run I missed the day before?

So in the morning, I completed an easy 45-minute run. In the late afternoon came the second run, another 45-minutes this time with some tempo intervals.

In the grand scheme of running, two 45-minute runs isn't all that crazy.

Especially when I came across this article on mega marathoners in the Wall Street Journal.

Mega marathoners are those who complete numerous marathons in a year. We're not just talking two or three in a 12-month period but anywhere from 30 to 100.

The article features 73-year-old Eugene DeFonzo, who recently ran marathon No. 402. Last year he ran 35 marathons. His doctor calls him both a "nut job" and a "marvel." The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Mega marathoners are different from ultra runners. Ultra runners go long distances in one race, typically 50 or 100 miles. Mega marathoners run the traditional 26.2 distance, just a whole lot of times.

That much racing doesn't leave much time for training. Then again, some people hate training and would rather just race. Mega marathoning would be one way to do that.

While some people go strictly for quality in a marathon, looking, for instance, to qualify for the Boston Marathon, others go for quantity. Or for the fun factor, getting to travel to different locations for races. There are people who strive to run a marathon on every continent. Yes, there is even an Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon, only it's sold out until 2012.

There are those who want to join the 50-state club, running a marathon in all 50 states. In fact, there are two clubs runners can join en route to that mark -- The 50 States Marathon Club and the 50 States and DC Marathon Group USA. For those who want the travel but a lighter workload, there also is a half-marathon 50-state club.

"There's a great reward at the end of all this -- finishing, because you're going through a lot of physical and mental pain." DeFronzo said in the Wall Street Journal online video (see below).  "Of course at the finish line you feel such a tremendous relief and a tremendous feeling that you've accomplished something great."

What's the reward for doing a marathon in each state? Or running hundreds of marathons? Motivations are different for different people. Perhaps it's a bit of an obsession, boarding on a running or racing addiction. Perhaps it's a need to continuously challenge yourself. People will debate whether the mega marathoners are inspirational, whack jobs or just plain doing something dangerous. Some will think their slow times, their desire to merely finish, is disrespectful to the marathon.

But our goals, our desires, our passions are ours and ours alone, regardless of what others might think about them.

--- Amy Moritz
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