GALION — When David Reid took up running at the age of 30, he didn’t set out to break any records, he just wanted to get into shape. But over his decades-long pastime he accomplished many milestones, including running a marathon in all 50 states. He has completed 115 marathons in his lifetime.
Reid grew up in Galion and graduated from Galion High School in 1965. He attended Franklin University in Columbus and then went into the Air Force.
“Uncle Sam sent me to California,” Reid said. “And I stayed there for about 40 years. I just moved back here about six months ago.”
Reid said he didn’t have any interest in running in high school, but did have to do his annual mile-and-a-half run each year when he was serving in the Air Force.
“I didn’t start (running) until I turned 30,” he said. “I’d been sitting at a desk for five or six years and when I turned 30 I thought I should do something to try to get in shape and lose a little weight.”
“I tried racketball and tennis and found out I have absolutely no hand/eye coordination at all,” he said with a laugh. “Any sport involving a ball is not fun for me, because I’m constantly chasing something around.”
Reid said he decided to try running because he thought putting his feet down — left, right, left, right — was something he could manage.
“II liked it, and I was good at it,” he said..
He started running for run and finished a few local 5-Ks and 10-Ks in his neighborhood.
“This was in the mid-1970s when the running boom first happened,” he explained. “Running became very popular and I just kind of got caught up in that. I did that for five or six years. I ran my first marathon in 1983. I joined a running club and six months later I was on a plane going to Hawaii for the Honolulu Marathon.”
The Big Sur marathon in northern California was his second marathon, and a favorite. He did 12 more of those.
“You get to run on the Pacific Coast Highway so the ocean is on one side and the hills are on the other side. It’s just gorgeous,” he said.
While running, he saw a group of people wearing yellow shirts, printed with ‘Marathon Manics’ on them.
“It looked like an interesting bunch so I looked them up online and their goal is to see how many marathons can you do. I’ve done 115 (marathons), and I’m just mediocre. A friend I used to run with is in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was the first person to hit 2,000 marathons. Two or three years ago he did 135 in one year.
“Then I started seeing these other people with 50-state shirts and thought sounded kind of interesting too.”
Reid had a friend who was a computer consultant. She would get stationed six months to a year to a different area. “If she was in Georgia, I would fly to Georgia and we would run marathons together,” he said. “We probably did 15 to 20 states together. Other than that it was traveling. The closer I got to the end (of the 50-state goal), the faster I started doing them. The last two years (running marathons) I did 32 in two years. That’s about every three to four weeks.”
In his third marathon, he finished in 3 hours and 29 minutes.
“That’s about an eight-minute pace, eight minutes for every mile for 26 miles,” he said. “I was the 279th finisher out of 4,000 people. I was fast a long time ago, but then I stayed around 3½ to four hours most of the time. I decided to go to Boston and the year I turned 50 the required qualifying time was raised and I just barely qualified. When I went to Boston I was training a lot, running about 50 miles a week.
“After I went to Boston, I started doing the 50-state thing and I decided I didn’t need to work this hard and decided to just do it for fun,” Reid said. “By the end, when I was closer to finishing my 115 marathons, I was closer to 5 or 5½ hours. Much slower, but I started lining up in the back of the pack instead of the middle of the pack because the people in the back pack have more fun. They’re not worried about the clock. They’re out there to look at the scenery. They have more time to chat. It’s just a big social thing. And that’s what it gets down to at the end. In the beginning it was about the speed, and the end it was about the people.”
Of the 115 marathons he completed, Boston was his favorite.
“Boston is the granddaddy,” he said. “For the whole race experience, there is nothing like Boston. The whole 26 miles there are people wall-to-wall. No other race has that many spectators and everybody is out there just cheering away.”
Reid equates long-distance running with meditating.
“It is just very peaceful,” he said. “I could just zone out. I could run three hours at a time and I couldn’t tell you what I was thinking about all that time. It just becomes kind of like an automatic process. I would set my pace and breath with a certain rhythm and run at a certain speed. But I couldn’t tell you’ve where I’d been. I just totally clear out my head. It was just very peaceful.
“It’s been the grandest adventure I could have every imagined.”
Reid’s last marathon was in September, 2011 in Idaho. He stopped because he had retired by then and had other things to do.
“It takes a lot of time,” Reid said of the prep-work. “When I was working, I was sitting at a desk 10 hours a day, so I could run all these miles, but when I retired I started working on my house full-time then I’m on my feet all day and I couldn’t do that all day and do the mileage after that.”
“If a story like this inspires one person to get up off the couch and go do something … whether it’s running, or walking, or basketball or going to (the YMCA) or whatever. If it inspires one person to get into motion then ‘Hoorah!’ That’s whole the point.”