Have I become a Marathon Maniac? Not yet, but I’m getting close.
At every marathon I run, I notice a lot of folks with Marathon Maniacs singlets. At the Outer Banks Marathon, there were lots of members of the Marathon Maniacs group who gathered for a team picture before the start. We met a nice couple at the pasta dinner the night before that race who are members and run a marathon every 2 or 3 weeks.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have the money or the desire to run marathons that often.
There are crazy ways to become a Marathon Maniac (see them here), but the “easiest” is to run 3 marathons in a 3-month span. After running the Asheville Citizen-Times City Marathon in late September and the Outer BanksMarathon in early November, I just needed one more to meet the criteria.
Enter the 31st annual Jacksonville Bank Marathon on Dec. 29.
Not only will it give me a path into the group, it also will be my 15th marathon state. I’m already in the 50 States Marathon Club, which requires you to finish marathons in
I would have more states, but it’s just so pricey to travel to out-of-state marathons that I run a lot more in-state marathons. Unless I win the lottery, I doubt I’ll ever finish marathons in all 50 states.
It will also be my fifth 2013 marathon, topping my previous high of 4 in 2001 (Myrtle Beach, Pittsburgh, Grandfather Mountain and Baltimore).
Since my maternal grandparents lived in DeLand when I was a kid, I’ve been to Florida many times. But I’ve never run a race in that state. I haven’t been to Jacksonville since attending Carolina’s foggy 31-27 GatorBowl victory over Arkansas in 1981.
The long drive isn’t that appealing, but the flat course with not many turns looks like it’s worth the trip. The Jacksonville Bank Marathon made Runner’s World’s 2012 list of the top 10 fastest marathons in North America. I’ve twice run one other race on that list: the Chicago Marathon.
Many of the races on that list are there because of the net elevation loss, but that’s obviously not the case for Jacksonville.
It certainly will provide a contrast to 2 of my previous 4 marathons this year — Asheville and the Grandfather Mountain Marathon — that were full of extremely challenging hills.
I’ll go from an elevation gain of 2,812 feet at Grandfather Mountain to 1,704 at Asheville and 275 feet at the Outer Banks Marathon to only 25 feet at Jacksonville.
The only concern, and it’s minor, is if there are hot temperatures on race day. I’ve run in sweltering summer conditions this year, but that’s been a while. It’s fortunate that the race starts at 7 a.m. and there is supposed to be a lot of shade on the course.
This will be my first marathon that finishes on a real track. The closest is Grandfather Mountain, which finishes at the Highland Games around a thin dirt track at MacRae Meadows.
The Jacksonville race finishes on the track at Bolles School’s football stadium.
I did finish in a football stadium for the 2010 Marshall University Marathon, but that finish took me down the middle of the field (after they handed me a football).
Years ago, I ran the defunct Duke Children’s Classic 15K that finished on the soon-to-be destroyed Wallace Wade Stadium track. Notably, I beat one of Steve Spurrier’s sons by 2 seconds in another 5K that finished on that track.
All of these marathons this year, and the training for them, have pushed me past 2,000 miles in a year for the first time. It’s also the first time my mileage figure has been greater than the year. As of Nov. 26, my 2013 total was 2,033.4 miles.
And what better way to finish out the year than with one more marathon!