26 Miles Every Day
from the Men’s Fitness magazine – COOLDOWN feature
Running nearly 200 marathons has helped this former drug abuser stay on the road of sobriety
Somewhere beyond the permeable scrim of sanity that most of us breach only temporarily resides Jerry Dunn, modern-day Sisyphus. This year, Dunn will roll the rock of endurance through 200 marathons, nearly doubling his old record of 104, set in 1993. The simplicity of his formula belies the zeal of the act: Sign up for a sanctioned marathon like the Boston or the New York, then run the course 115 times before race day. Do this every month for an entire year. When he finishes Dunn will have run 12 sanctioned races and 188 solo treks.
For Dunn, running is not just a means to an end. “A big part of my story is that running has turned my life around from being an alcoholic and a drug abuser ,” he explains.
Dunn’s descent into substance abuse began at 19 when, during a span of 18 months, his father died, he flunked out of college and he was drafted into the Vietnam War. “That was too much bad stuff for me to handle in a short time,” says Dunn. “So I decided I would stay drunk for a few years and not deal with it.”
In 1983, however, he quit the bottle and focused his energy on running, which had been his preferred exercise since 1975. But it wasn’t until 1993, after participating in some ultra distance races, that he set out to eclipse the record for marathons run in a year. Yet, despite having that accomplishment stowed comfortably under his belt, it proved to be only the beginning of Dunn’s peripatetic odyssey.
“This is one of those ‘find something you like to do and find somebody to pay you to do it’ things. I love to run, and I’ve built a reputation around being able to do those things. So it has created a job for Mme.” But it’s a job through which he hopes he can influence and motivate others. “I want people to respect and maybe imitate me in that they get up off their butts and exercise, and maybe even stop drinking.”
Dunn will finish his 200th race on December 10 in Tampa, Fla., when he runs the Hops Marathon. You can follow his journey through www.marathonman.org, where he posts daily updates after his 26-mile morning jaunt.