Last week I had an opportunity to catch-up with Messenger Dave Major from England. As of February 2012, he’s now approaching 500 marathons!!! It was our chance meeting on a train platform in Athens a few years ago that led to the writing of The Messengers. So last week I asked Dave several questions – the answers to which I’ve provided below:
How many marathons (and ultras) have you run?
As of 19th February 2012 I’ve run a total of 490.
How many countries have you run in?
When did you start running?
It was the 1st September, 1994. I waited until it was dark before I went out for the run as I was embarrassed about my weight and lack of fitness – in my prime of 29 years.
Why did you start running?
Weight, asthma, an unhealthy feeling and a general lack of self-esteem. The diagnosis of my doctor at the time after taking a peak flow test. He said to me “the last breath of a dead man registers higher than that. If you don’t change your ways you will either be in a wheelchair and oxygen mask by the 35 … or dead.”
What have been your most memorable races, and why?
There have been three that I’d rate the highest: London 1996 was my first, New York 2001 – as it was my wife’s 1st marathon and because it was only 6 weeks from 9/11, and the Comrades Ultra Marathon in 2008 – which, to me, is the best long distance race in the world.
What are your next running goals?
In the short term – to make my 500th marathon on April 15th 2012. My medium term goal is to set a personal best record for the marathon distance – my time to beat 3:23:42. I have a letter ready to be issued to all the news agencies titled. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again… well actually 500+ times.” My long term goal is to keep enjoying my running and maintaining my health.
What’s your day job?
I work at an airport managing, the Property and Facilities. It’s a varied job which is predominantly project based and I have a team of 12 people that work for me, 2 of which I have managed to get to run a marathon in the last 12 months.
Can you tell me more about your new running business ‘Madeyarun’?
I started Madeyarun.com with my wife Linda. We wanted to help people achieve more than they possibly believe they can. We offer discounts, travel advice, planning and price checking services through weekly bulletins & newsletters. Our “Travel Club” is a not-for-profit service where we arrange trips to other countries and marathons for runners and their supporters. Travelling together with like-minded people is a great way of experiencing new locations and marathons.
The current boom in running is bringing a lot of new people into the sport and more runners will be looking for better value races and more economical trips away. ‘Madeyarun’ is there to provide a service and after running and traveling to 800 marathons (our combined total), Linda and I should know a slightly bit more than most.
What advice would you give to new runners, and new distance runners?
Although runners don’t set out to deliberately injure themselves, become disillusioned with their performance or put themselves under immense stress, I’ve seen this on numerous occasions and I find it very sad.
Running should be fun; you should feel a sense of well-being and improvement from almost every run you complete and you should never be disappointed in completing a distance that most sedentary people wouldn’t undertake in a car without packing a picnic, credit cards and mobile phone.
So my advice is to start slow, have smaller goals to start with, and then have a reward for each one. If you can’t keep raising the bar for speed or distance, just settle at what you feel is comfortable and ‘enjoy’. You don’t have to keep ‘chasing’ improvements in speed or time unless you’re being paid for running or winning prize money. The vast majority of us spend money on our hobby and don’t earn it from running, so we need to remind ourselves to simply enjoy it!
My overall message is whatever the distance or time you complete, make sure you celebrate your fitness with a reward to yourself.
Who is your favourite runner?
Haile Gebrselassie, without a doubt. I ran the Dubai marathon in 2010 and was fortunate enough to stay in the same hotel as the great man. Speaking to him he was exactly as I imagined. His ability and longevity have been nothing but inspiring to me for almost all my running life. Arguably, he saved my life, so I can only have total respect for someone who does that.
Finally Dave, as you move into the ‘490s’ of marathons and ultras completed, what is going through your mind as you approach that truly magical marathon number of 500?!
Hmmm…now you have got me thinking!
1. Not getting injured.
2. Weather forecasts.
3. What happens if one race is called off. Make sure I have a back-up plan with other races I can enter.
4. What happens if I’m ill?
5. Would I be that upset if I didn’t make it but tried my best?
But really, I’m very relaxed about each subsequent hundred since making the first hundred. But on the flip side I’m very determined to achieve my 500!!
Thanks very much Dave. I wish you all the best in the weeks ahead. Let’s catch-up again in late April and you can tell me how the 500th race went!!
Note: Dave’s website is: http://www.madeyarun.com/
Dave is one of the runners featured in the book: ‘The Messengers’ – about runners from around the world who have completed 100 marathons or more. More information and reviews of the book can be found in the bookstore section of this runplaces website.