Originally published in Goshen Commons.
On Sunday, February 23 at 6:55am, six racers walked leisurely over to the starting line to start their sixth marathon in six days, all on the Goshen College Rec-Fitness Center’s indoor track.
As Doug Yoder, who organized the six-day event of 157 total miles, declared the race would start in 10 seconds, only a few bothered to step up to the line. Yoder counted down aloud: “Three…two…one…Go!” and the last 26.2 mile race was underway.
Two laps in, Yoder turned up the speakers and blasted “Smoke on the Water” to get the racers in the competitive mode. By request, Yoder promised at least 15 minutes of polka music around the fourth hour of the race.
Yoder conceptualized the idea of a marathon six-pack as a supreme challenge for the marathon crowd.
“We always try to be on the cutting edge in what we do,” said Yoder, “not just doing things that have already been done.”
According to Yoder, the main reception for this kind of extreme endurance challenge is the members of the Marathon Maniacs, who are always looking for something new to push their limits.
Linda Kaminskis, athletic trainer, commented on the toll that the running takes on the body.
“This much running is only for the die-hards,” said Kaminskis. “Next year, my exercise physiology class wants to measure their oxygen levels (and other performance levels) to see how their bodies can handle it.”
“It’s a national event,” said Yoder, “but not very many people from Goshen know it.” The participants, who competed in at least one of the six marathons, represented 10 different states and two countries (the U.S. and Australia).
From Australia came Trent Morrow, otherwise known as “Marathon Man,” who this time completed only the first four marathons without the signature red cape he has often been seen wearing during marathons. He did, however, sport his Marathon Man t-shirt.
Morrow is attempting to break the world record for most marathons run on all seven continents in a year.
Yoder originally planned to hold the first four marathons outside and the final two on the indoor track, but the recent weather changed those plans.
“We would have used something like the Hokum Karem one-mile loop, but there was really nowhere to run,” said Yoder. But the crowd didn’t seem too upset by the change to an indoor track. Despite running a repetitive 192 laps per marathon on an oval track, most racers were excited for it.
“It posed an extra mental challenge,” said John Kiser, who finished first out of the racers and who competed in all six marathons with a time of 3:49.57. At 53 years old, Kiser has now completed 158 marathons and is always looking for something new for a personal challenge.
“I’d done a 50- and 100-miler, and I’ll be doing an ultra-marathon, so I thought this would be fun and good training,” said Kiser.
Kiser had his ankle taped up to help his Achilles tendonitis and was too sore to walk down the stairs after his last race.
“I had a goal of under four hours every day, and I got that,” said Kiser. “It’s really a heck of an accomplishment for me.”
Ben Griffin, a member of the “Marathon Maniacs,” ran to train for a 72-hour race but also said he wanted the challenge.
“Us Maniacs, we’re the crazy people who show up to these things,” said Griffin. “We’re tired…but we’re almost sad it’s going to end. It’d be nice to do again every year.”
Griffin said it’s impossible to avoid the soreness, but icing and elevating after every marathon is a must-do, and what makes it better is the community that comes with aching together.
“It’s like a reunion every year,” said Griffin, “because the same people come to these races and we catch up.”
The first female finisher of the six-pack marathoners, Marit Janse of Michigan, crossed the electronically-timed finish line at 4:20.30.
“I loved it,” said Janse after her sixth marathon that week. “I saw someone finish a marathon and get a big trophy afterward, and I decided that’s what I wanted.”
She ran her first marathon in 1993. Janse is part of the “50 States Marathon Club,” which challenges its members to run at least one marathon in every state.
But not everything about the Maple Leaf Marathon was on a national scale. Jamie Quarandillo, a Goshen native, finished her last of the six marathons with her family by her side.
During her last eight laps, her husband Josh Quarandillo arrived with their six children and a close friend who they’d nicknamed, “The Stray.”
Seven-year-old Leighton Quarandillo took the first lap with his mother, followed by 14-year-old Raja and 16-year-old Jordyn.
“It meant a lot to have my family there with me,” said Jamie, “and to have some fresh pace.”
After all the kids made their individual laps with Jamie, the whole family ran around the small 220-meter track with her on the last lap.
“I feel really good physically,” said Quarandillo, whose only complaint was her Achilles tendon.
The crowd clapped loudly for every finisher, and as the last racers came off the track, people congratulated each other and said their goodbyes until next year.
“We’re going to try it again next year,” said Yoder of the six-pack marathons. Most racers said they would be back for sure, but Quarandillo wasn’t so sure.
“I may come back to run two or three and help the other days,” said Quarandillo. But Yoder and Janse, overhearing, just laughed and remarked, “You know you’ll do it again.”
The six finishers of all six marathons were: John Kiser, Eric Van Osdol, Benn Griffin, Marit Janse, Kelsey Thurk, and Jamie Quarandillo. Full results can be found at www.mapleleafmarathon.com.