Thursday, March 8, 2007

Captain Marvel

Ultra-runner Don Marvel at the JFK 50-miler in 1978. After getting lost and running an extra mile out of the way, Marvel still placed 6th overall.

The cultural tendency is to think that we are the first to find something. Ultra-running has an astonishing popularity, thanks to charismatic runners like Dean Karnazes, and wunderkinds like 7-time Western States 100 champion Scott Jurek. The JFK 50-miler had more than 1,000 finishers in 2006. Surely, this is a new phenomenon! We can take no such credit.

I am working on publishing an article about Easton ultra-runner Don Marvel, so I won't go into extensive detail here, other than to give you some highlights from Don's running resume. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, you would find him in the top finishers list from ultra-marathons across the country. Take a look:

- 2nd overall in the 1980 New York 100-miler in a time of 13:36:35, which was the 5th fastest time run by an American in a 100-mile race at the time.
- 1st place Columbia 24-hour run, 2 years in a row 1981-82. In the 1982 race, Don ran 124 miles, coming back to win the race after being 2 hours behind the leader at 100 miles. In South Carolina heat, no less! In 1981, he ran 132 miles to win the race.
- Ran JFK 50-miler, 3 times, finished 3rd overall in 1981, time of 6:22:04 (the winner that year was then Running Times Editor, Ed Ayers)
- 2nd place, 1979 Lake Waramaug 100K, time of 7:23:17.
- 1st place, 1982 Great Philadelphia to Atlantic City 60-miler, 7:28:09, course record.
- In 1981, he logged 6,752 miles. That year Don was ranked 6th in the All-Time U.S. 100-mile rankings.

That's a peak at the pedigree. And why did Don start running ultras? His marathon PR of 2:39 was too slow to make him competitive at that distance, so he just ran further. Personally, I am going to have a party when I crack 4:00 for the marathon!

This weekend Don will be running a 5K in Delaware on Saturday and returning to the "First State" on Sunday for a half-marathon. You can find him most mornings on or around Rails-to-Trails in Easton, and he is excited for the Bridge-to-Bridge Half-Marathon in St. Michaels in April. Truly an inspirational cat. Stay tuned, I will let you know where and when the article might land.

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