Pledging to “run like crazy,” an Australian distance runner has begun an ambitious quest to complete 52 marathons in 52 weeks.
If 33-year-old Tristan Miller can pull it off, the Melbourne native will have overcome the pain of getting divorced and losing his job to accomplish a feat few people could even imagine.
He plans to run about 2,200 kilometres while flying all over the world, coping with jet lag, unfamiliar foods, little training time and wildly different climates.
“This isn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done,” Miller said after completing his second marathon of the year in Tiberias.
Miller finished the race in 3 hours, 52 minutes, 36 seconds, nearly 30 minutes slower than his personal best of 3:23 and 10 minutes off the pace of last week’s marathon. He put down the gap to his body being weakened by a lingering cold he caught in snowy Berlin and the heat of an unusually warm Israeli winter day.
“I’ve probably got one three-hour marathon in me, but probably only just one,” Miller said.
The Australian finished in the middle of the pack at the Tiberias Marathon, where spectators lined the streets, clowns entertained the crowd and one onlooker brought along his pet alligator.
Miller ran the first 42.2-kilometre marathon in his quest last week in Switzerland. Next week, he plans to run in the Indian city of Mumbai before heading to the Canary Islands on January 24. In all, he plans to compete in 42 countries.
The Australian’s life took a turn for the worse in 2003. His marriage fell apart - the divorce was amicable, he says - and he began drinking for solace.
A friend then encouraged him to run with him, and Miller found meaning in long jogs.
“I think my life was in a bit of a cloud by the time I got divorced,” Miller said. “(But) I found my way out of my cloud. I found it, because you start running and the cloud lifts and life is clear again.”
Miller was already a distance runner when he lost a high-tech job in Melbourne last April. Instead of looking for a new job, he sold his apartment and decided to use the money to run marathons all over the world.
To keep him company, Miller asked his best friend - New Zealand native Darren Foss - to accompany him.
“You want to be with someone when you see some of the most amazing places in the world,” Miller said. “And he can carry the other camera.”
When he decided to take up running for the year, Miller had completed five official marathons and one ultra-marathon - a 90-kilometre run in South Africa in May. He says his health is good, and as long as he recovers properly between marathons, he believes can do it. He says he has found other runners who have done similarly intense schedules, but not on a global scale.
But training is a challenge. Last week, Miller got stranded in snowed-in Berlin for several days after the bad weather cancelled his flight. He couldn’t run n Berlin because of a cold.
Food is another problem: Miller prefers to eat brown rice, vegetables and “a bit of meat” - but he stays frequently in hotels without a place to prepare food and has to rely on eating out.
Miller thinks the year’s marathons will cost about $150,000 for himself and Foss. The Australian is looking for sponsors, and is promising to give half to UNICEF.
In the meantime, he’s preparing for the next marathon. “I’ve got 50 to go,” Miller said. “It doesn’t seem so far.”