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Making Countless Steps In The Right Direction

By DAN MANGAN – from the New York Post online version NYPOST.COM

When Jerry Dunn crossed the finish line yesterday it was 4,663.6 miles down and only 576 more to go. For this year, at least. Dunn, who calls himself “America’s Marathon Man,” did eight 26.2-mile runs in Central Park in the days leading up to the New York City Marathon yesterday.

That was his 178th marathon-length course of the year.

Today, the 54-year-old heads to Providence, R.I., where he’ll run five marathon courses in a week before the official race.

He plans similar schedules in Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla., where he expects to complete his 200th and final marathon course of the year on Dec. 10.

“I feel good,” Dunn said after clocking a time of four hours, 43 minutes in yesterday’s race. That was a little fast for Dunn, who usually does it in five hours.

“You know, I always say it’s just another day at the office,” he said.

Dunn insists he isn’t crazy, although people frequently question the sanity of the massage therapist and log-home builder from Spearfish, S.D.

His “200 in 2000” quest – complete with corporate sponsorship – promotes exercise as a way of life and raises money for Run for Lungs, a lung-cancer research group.

Of his 200 marathons, 17 are official races, and 183 are solo practice runs.

By the end of the year, his 63-year-old wife, Elaine, will have run 26 official marathons.

“I’m addicted to running,” said Dunn, who did 104 marathons in 1993 to raise funds for the anti-poverty group Habitat for Humanity.

He used to be addicted to other things – drugs and alcohol – and said “racing’s pretty much turned my life around,” having been clean for 17 years.

Dunn said the New York City Marathon is something special. “I broke down and cried at the finish line today,” he said. “That hasn’t happened in a while.”

He was moved by memories of the 1993 New York City Marathon, when he dedicated his running to his late father.

“It’s been said a million times, but the crowds in New York are fabulous,” Dunn said. Running along First Avenue in Manhattan, “You can hardly hear yourself think.”

“I still get fulfillment from it,” Dunn said of his marathon odyssey. “I’m wondering what it’s going to be like when I finish my 200th one.”

Taylor