Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I'm a Full Member of the Marathon Globetrotters!

I met my first running goal of 2017. I ran marathons in two new countries (Italy and France), for a total of 10 country marathon finishes. This earned me full membership in the Marathon Globetrotters, with voting privileges. I've been working on this since 2014 when the club was new and my marathon friend David encouraged me to add some Caribbean island marathons to my calendar to get to provisional membership in the club (5 countries). I earned that status at the club's first annual reunion in Nassau, Bahamas.

My 10 marathon country medals in chronological order

It was a fun goal for me, as I love traveling to new places to run marathons, and I love visiting new countries. The Marathon Globetrotters supports both of these passions, and puts me in touch with like-minded runners from around the world. Here's a recap of my Marathon Globetrotters journey, with links to my individual race reports in case you want to learn more:

Country 1: United States
Marathon: 2005 Mardi Gras Marathon - New Orleans, Louisiana
Summary: Even my first marathon was a destination marathon. I ran through a charity program with a  structured training plan and weekly group long runs. I never would have set out to run a marathon without a group, and I found that I enjoyed running. I raised thousands of dollars for the National AIDS Marathon Training Program (which is no longer in existence). I also found that I could run a marathon, even though it was slow and I had to fight through some injuries. And New Orleans was quite a place to celebrate finishing a first marathon!

Country 2: Ireland
Marathon: 2005 Dublin Marathon - Dublin
Summary: My second ever marathon was also my second marathon country. I trained again with the National AIDS Marathon Training Program and raised thousands more for the charity. Dublin was a fun marathon, and I was no longer a beginner and no longer injured, so I took more than an hour off of my previous time for a new marathon PR. My training partners and I took a road trip around Ireland after the race. Tons of fun!

Country 3: Scotland
Marathon: 2014 Loch Ness Marathon - Inverness
Summary: It took a while for me to get out there for my third country marathon as I was busy running around the US. Scot and I traveled to Scotland to run the marathon, visit friends, and explore the country of his childhood. This was a tough marathon with lots of hills, but it was beautiful, and I loved running in Scotland.

Country 4: Cayman Islands
Marathon: 2014 Cayman Islands Marathon - George Town, Grand Cayman
Summary: This was the first marathon I ran after deciding to go for Marathon Globetrotters membership. I didn't know many runners there except David, but I really enjoyed this marathon. In spite of the oppressive heat, I thought it was scenic, well managed, and the spectators and volunteers were awesome.

Country 5: Bahamas
Marathon: 2015 Marathon Bahamas - Nassau
Summary: This was the first annual meeting and reunion of the Marathon Globetrotters, and I qualified for my provisional membership at this event. I traveled with friends Rachael and Abbi and saw lots of other running friends there. This was another hot, hot, hot race, but most of it ran along the ocean, so that was some relief.

In Marathon Globetrotters gear at Maratona di Roma

Country 6: Germany
Marathon: 2015 Berlin Marathon - Berlin
Summary: This was my second of the World Marathon Majors and my first international back-to-back marathons. Scot and I made a 10 day holiday of this trip by running Germany on one weekend and Jersey on the following weekend. I liked the marathon a lot. It's a fast course, but I wasn't trained for fast, so I just took it all in. The finish, running through the Brandenburg Gate, was iconic. The funny thing? They serve non-alcoholic beer to runners after the race. In Germany. During Oktoberfest. Go figure!

Country 7: Jersey
Marathon: 2015 Jersey Marathon - St. Helier
Summary: This is the English Channel Island of Jersey, not the US state of New Jersey! While it's part of the British Commonwealth, it has political independence, and counts as a country by Marathon Globetrotters standards. This was the club's second annual meeting and reunion. After Germany the previous week, we spent some time in England and then flew over to Jersey for the marathon. It was a smaller event, but very nice. Pretty scenery and wonderful post-race party where they had good food (beet burgers for the vegetarians) and beer or cider. I enjoyed seeing many of my friends at this race.

Country 8: Canada
Marathon: 2016 Ottawa Marathon - Ottawa
Summary: It's hard to believe it took me this long to run a marathon in Canada. This was a good one. I traveled with Scot and met our friend Angela in Ottawa. It is such a pretty city with historical buildings and beautiful public spaces. The marathon was on a hot weekend and, unfortunately, the race officials had to call the race early and re-route some of the back-of-the-pack runners. Fortunately, all three of us were able to finish the full course. This race has a weekend full of races of varying distances, so there is something for everyone. I highly recommend it.

Country 9: Italy
Marathon: 2017 Maratona di Roma - Rome
Summary: This was the start of my second international back-to-back marathon adventure. Although I knew a few people running Rome, this was a solo adventure for me. Having been to Rome before, I felt very comfortable there. I thoroughly enjoyed my marathon, starting and finishing near the Coliseum, and running past classic Roman landmarks. Even though there were thunderstorms and it rained for much of the marathon, I had fun and enjoyed meeting a new friend, Diane.

Country 10: France
Marathon: 2017 Marathon de Paris - Paris
Summary: After Rome, I spent a few days in Belgium and then met up with friends Abbi and Kristen in Paris. We drank lots of wine and ate lots of croissants and baguettes (they really are better over there). This is one of the largest marathons in the world, but it was very well executed. It got hot during the race, and my time was a little slower than in Rome, but I enjoyed most parts of this race. And...I knew that a solid finish would earn me full membership in the Marathon Globetrotters.

My One Flag (10 countries) certificate

Not all of my international marathon attempts went so well. I had two marathon DNFs (did not finish) before I finally earned my ten countries. There was the 2016 Tokyo Marathon in which I was sick and going slow. I thought I had time to take it easy, but I misunderstood how the time limits worked and was pulled from the course near mile 18. That was heartbreaking because I could have done better and finished the race if I had only been better informed. Then there was the 2016 Mexico City Marathon in which I was also sick (this time the probable cause was the altitude). In Mexico I chose to start the marathon even though I knew I wouldn't be able to finish that day. I wanted to feel part of it, so I ran the first 5K, dropping out when I reached my hotel on the course. That time it was my choice to drop, and it was the right one, but knowing that doesn't make me less sad for this missed opportunity. Now, I'm training harder and taking better care of myself so I can prevent issues like those in Tokyo and Mexico City.

So, that's the story of how I became first a provisional member of the Marathon Globetrotters, and finally a full, voting member. I have to acknowledge that I'm very lucky to have had these opportunities. I'm also humble because I know runners who have finished marathons in eight, nine and ten times as many countries! I have a while to go to get to the 2nd Flag level (20 countries) of Marathon Globetrotters, and it's possible that I'll never get there. But one thing is certain: I will continue to plan marathon adventures in new countries as long as I am physically and financially able...and I will enjoy every step of the journey.


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